Heli Air Monaco

Anything goes in Monaco… and for one weekend I was more than willing to fulfil the pretence: to act rich, famous and fabulous, like the rest of the visitors to this extravagant place. Fast cars, high heels, designer handbags… everywhere, the glitz and glamour is overwhelming.

When the time comes to wave goodbye to France’s most prestigious principality, there is only one way to depart. Heli Air Monaco run an impressive operation, with regular flights between Monaco and Nice airport, transporting passengers in style. The helicopter trip costs 120 Euros and takes just 7 minutes in the air. Conveniently the price includes a pick up from your hotel. Unlike usual flights, the Monaco Heli-Air is a speedy turn-around, and within fifteen minutes of arriving at the helipad we were in our seats and ready to take off.

The flight is exhilarating, zooming over expanses of azure blue sea, it is the most memorable way to finish your holiday, and perfect for posh jetsetters.

More information here: www.heliairmonaco.com

Many thanks to the Monaco Tourist Board, Visit Monaco, who organised the trip. More information here.

www.visitmonaco.com/en

Things to do in Monaco

Known as a playground for the rich and famous, most residents of Monaco own a jumbo yacht, a private jet or a top of the range automobile to employ flamboyantly in and around town. Surrounded by France and just a 15-minute train journey from Nice, it is easy and quick to reach, and at just two square kilometres in size, Monaco is a very manageable weekend destination. With its own royal family, a hospital, an Olympic sized stadium and a cathedral, it constitutes a self-sufficient principality of France. As a 36-hour addition to my Provencal summer holiday, I had just enough time to experience some of the best that Monaco has to offer.

To stay
Le Meridien Beach Plaza: we arrived as the final members from UEFA were departing; the hotel had hosted guests for the Champions League draw just a couple of days before. This 4-star hotel has a unique location, overlooking the Mediterranean, it is the only Monaco hotel with its own private beach. The suites are spacious and airy; we had a huge (and very comfortable) king-size bed and a lovely little balcony. A big breakfast buffet is served downstairs on the patio, and you can then spend the day soaking up the sun on the beach, or take the concierge’s tips and see the city’s popular sites.

To eat
Odyssey at Hotel Metropole: Odyssey is the third Joel Robuchon eatery at the swish Metropole Hotel. As a casual option for guests wishing to enjoy a light bite, it is in contrast to the two smart, Michelin-starred fine dining options within the hotel. Odyssey is the creation of two French masters, King of Chanel Karl Lagerfeld and Chef extraordinaire Joel Robuchon. Karl, who designed the dazzling pool and restaurant, came to see it for the first time on the night we dined there, and Joel also popped in to say hi! The cocktails are impressively ornate and very strong, exotically flavoured with spices and herbs. From the menu of tapas style dishes, the marinated lamb chops and crispy battered courgette flowers are my top recommendations.

Maya Bay: a lovely, reasonably priced lunch venue, this restaurant is divided in two with separate Thai and Japanese sections. The ideal exotic dining options for Meridien hotel guests.

Le Louis XV: Monaco’s most prestigious restaurant can be found at the resplendent Hotel de Paris. With 3 Michelin stars and a crowd of tourists outside proving its status… this Alain Ducasse restaurant is unbeatable.

To see
Monaco Cathedral: It seems impossible that a cathedral so big should exist in a place so small. Built with stark white stone from La Turbie in 1875, this Roman-Byzantine-style building houses the burial places of past sovereigns, including Prince Rainier.

Prince’s Palace of Monaco: Every day at 11.55 am, without fail, the changing of the guard takes place outside the palace. Walk up the steep steps and catch a spectacular glimpse of Monaco. As the official residence of the Prince of Monaco there are many beautiful and luxurious artefacts to see if you do venture inside.

To do
Stade Louis II Tour: Visit the impressive stadium complex and take a tour with a knowledgeable guide to learn about sport in Monaco. See the pool where Prince Albert met his wife, the changing rooms where the multimillion-pound superstar footballers prepare before a game, and the pitch where the matches take place.

Oceanographic Museum: this exotic aquarium and museum is housed in a surprisingly grand old building. After admiring the multicoloured fish and other sea creatures, you can stroke baby sharks and starfish in the unique touch pool.

To be seen at
Casino {of Monte Carlo}: Prepare to be amazed, this is where millionaires bet the big bucks. A must see, it is definitely worth spending 10 euros to feel part of this famous Monaco institution.

Jimmyz: Part of the popular Sporting Club, Jimmyz has a reputation for attracting all the stars and celebs. To join them – pay the (extortionate) entrance fee, drink champagne and dance until the sun comes up… in true Monaco style.

Many thanks to the Monaco Tourist Board, Visit Monaco, who organised the trip. More information here.

www.visitmonaco.com/en