Travel

Monaco

Tomorrow the British Grand Prix kicks off at Silverstone but last month we went to the most glamorous Grand Prix of them all; Monaco.

We went with Jonathan and Louise who had managed to arrange for us to use a friend’s flat in Monaco-Ville for the week.

Also known as La Rocher or ‘The Rock’, the old fortified town sits high above the harbour of Monte Carlo and is where the Prince’s palace is located.

Although it is only a short climb up the hill, La Rocher couldn’t be more different from the glitzy Monte Carlo.  While Ferraris and Lamborghinis roll past the high-rise buildings and massive yachts down at the harbour, La Rocher is a quiet medieval town with narrow cobbled streets and pretty buildings.  The flat we were staying in was in a little square, not far from the Palais Princier with plenty of cafes and restaurants nearby.

We arrived on Thursday night and went to Ingrid’s flat for a few drinks.  This is where we got our first view of Monaco Harbour and it was amazing.  The yachts were all lit up and there was clearly a party going on down there.  We could see all the way across the harbour up to Monaco-Ville on the other side.

Later that night, as we walked home along the race track, we found the party.  It was being held on the Force India team owner’s yacht and it looked amazing.  It had lasers and everything!

I had grandstand tickets for qualifying but we were planning to watch the race on Sunday from Ingrid’s flat.  However, when we walked past the ticket office on Friday and saw there were race tickets still available, it didn’t take much discussion before we had tickets for Sunday, too.

These tickets, we discovered, also gave us access to the pit lane that day and as we walked past the garages, we could see the engineers working on cars in various stages of disassembly.  It was cool.

On Saturday I went to watch qualifying while everyone else went to Nice.  I had a great seat in grandstand K and could see all the way from the exit of the tunnel, through Tabac, past the harbour and swimming pool and down to Rascasse.  It was my first experience of how close to the cars you get in Monaco.

That night we went to a party high, high up in the hills surrounding Monaco.  It was in an old estate with an incredible view all the way down to the sea and the lights of Nice airport up the coast.

Sunday was race day. We all wore the McLaren team kit and even bought a Union Jack to wave at Lewis and Jenson as they screamed by.  It was hot in the sun but I didn’t care.  Our seats on Sunday were even better than I had for qualifying.  The track ran right around us and we could see the cars fly from the tunnel into Tabac corner just metres away before hearing them thunder down the straight behind us and up the hill toward Casino Square.

Lewis didn’t do too well but, of course, Jenson won so we had the chance to wave our flag.  I had such a great time.

On Monday we chilled out in Nice before hitting Monte Carlo casino late that night.  The casino is quite different from what we had experienced in Las Vegas; a bit more classy and a lot less busy.  We did well on the blackjack table though and everyone came out with more money than they went in with.

Monaco is a crazy place.  Supposedly it wasn’t as busy as it usually is during the Grand Prix but it still had an amazing atmosphere.

But Monaco is also a city of two halves.  Monte Carlo is all yachts, Ferraris and parties but up on La Rocher it’s another world altogether; one of cobbled streets and little squares to have coffee and crepes.

Check out the pictures in the gallery.

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