Monaco See And Do
Monaco is famous for its over-the top, stratospherically priced shops and restaurants, and the antics of the Grimaldis, its ruling family. The postage-stamp principality was said by Evelyn Waugh to be "supremely artificial," and today this feels more true than ever, with the towering luxury apartment buildings, Belle Époque palaces, and a harbor full of palatial yachts. The casino, an extravaganza of 19th-century architectural and interior design, is the place to get a quick, strong dose of James Bondstyle gambling and excess. Top-end shopping happens at the Avenue des Beaux-Arts and the Avenue Monte Carlo. Alain Ducasse's Le Louis XV restaurant in the Hôtel de Paris is pretty much the swankest eatery in southern France. To get past its doors, or those of the casino or many clubs, for that matter, men will need a jacket and tie. For those in a hurry, just pop down to the port to see the yachts unload: The parade of surgical and sartorial excess is worth the drive.
The madly popular European sport of Formula One (or just F1) racing comes to Monaco just once a yearand it is an event. Held on a Sunday toward the end of May, the race often overlaps with the Cannes Film Festival down the coast, providing a double dose of glamour with two different demographics (think sports fans and lizard-skinned yacht owners vs. Hollywood celebrities, paparazzi, and, well, lizard-skinned yacht owners). The city is closed off as massively overpowered open-wheel cars scream around its tight bends, up and down its hills, and past the port, all to a packed crowd. Don't count on getting a room in town without reserving months, or even years, in advance; the same goes for staking a claim to a table at the more glamorous restaurants like Le Louis XV.