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Monaco: a royal visit

25 MARCH 2013

Tucked inside the Maritime Alps between the French and Italian Riviera on the Mediterranean Sea, Monaco is home to the reigning Grimaldi clan, who will soon be gathering for the wedding of Princess Caroline's son Andrea Casiraghi and his fiancée Tatiana Santo Domingo.

Long associated with glamour and exclusivity, Monte Carlo is the central quarter of the principality of Monaco, hosting the annual Grand Prix, and has won the reputation of the playground of choice for the rich and famous all year round.

With all eyes on the Monegasque royals as they prepare for a new generation of weddings – it is rumoured that Charlotte will be marrying her French boyfriend Gad Elmaleh in autumn – we look at what else Monaco has to celebrate.

Top sights to see in Monte Carlo…
 

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Stroll around the Prince's Palace
Where Albert II, Prince of Monaco, married Charlene Wittstock in July 2011 in what has been described as Monaco's "biggest party in 55 years" since the wedding of Albert's father, Rainier III to Grace Kelly.

Located in a unique setting upon the "rock" of Monaco, this beautiful palace is a guardian of ancient tradition. Its splendors can be admired by all, from its Italian-style gallery and 15th century frescoes to its Louis XVth lounge all in yellow and gold, its blue room, a harmonious blend of glorious blue and gold to the Throne Room, decorated with an impressive Renaissance fireplace.

Place your bets in the Monte Carlo Casino and hit the high notes at the Opera House
Royals often gather in the Monte Carlo Opera for various prestigious events, galas and concerts that take place here. The Opera’s terraces also offered spectacular views and a fairytale setting for Prince Albert and Charlene’s wedding dinner reception.

Monaco is the smallest principality in the world, a world famous tax haven and playground of the rich and famous. And it’s no wonder, as stepping into the Monte Carlo casino is like discovering another world, where scenes of James Bond putting on his charm, and martinis, shaken not stirred, come to mind.

 



Visit Princess Grace's resting place in Monaco Cathedral
Monaco’s royal family have been in the spotlight since the former 1950's film star Grace Kelly married the country's sovereign Prince Rainier III in 1956. It is in this Roman-Byzantine-style building that past sovereigns, including Prince Rainier and Princess Grace, continue to rest.

Here you can admire an altarpiece by the Niçois painter Louis Bréa dating from 1500 and the Episcopal throne of Carrara white marble. A magnificent grand organ comprising four keyboards, inaugurated in 1976, makes for outstanding concerts.

Unwind in the palatial Hotel Metropole
Long-standing celebrity favourite Hotel Metropole claims one of the most serene settings in town. And the luxurious five star hotel, popular with local royals as well as visiting celebrities, is currently receiving design tweaks from Chanel's maestro Karl Lagerfeld, who was the mastermind behind this year's glittering Rose Ball which took place on Saturday. The theme, chosen by the fashion designer, was the 1990 French era of 'La Belle Epoque', which brought with it a host of feathers, fringes, hats and necklaces.

 



Just a stone's throw from the Grand Casino and the lavish boutiques of the chic Carre d'Or district, the glamourous hotel is home to a two Michelin-starred restaurant, and maintains its privacy, hiding from the hustle and bustle behind an arch of boxwood. You'll be blown away when you walk into the lobby, which gives off the illusion of a Mediterranean palace, as sunlight enters the great glass dome casting acres of tapestries, carpets and sofas in a kaleidoscope of warm colours.

Star-spot on the beach
A world-class place to spot Formula 1 drivers, the majority of whom, including Jacques Villeneuve and Heinz Harald Frentzen, live there, is to head to the beach for a spot of sunbathing. If you're lucky you'll also spot one of the many Hollywood celebrities and runway models that holiday here – Will Smith and Nicole Scherzinger attended last year. Keep an eye on the yachts, especially from mid-May to September, when crowds descend on Monte Carlo for the Monaco Grand Prix to catch a glimpse of the race and drivers, and hotel rooms are booked months in advance.


 

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