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Mary Rose McLean with five reasons to come to the Monaco Grand Prix

Monaco - Mary-Rose McLean

Monaco is known for casinos, James Bond, azure blue seas dotted with superyachts and as the party capital for the rich and famous. But in among the glitz and glamour, it’s also renowned for its annual Grand Prix, when every May sees the narrow streets host the best racing drivers in the world.

This year’s Monaco Grand Prix has just finished, with a tense finish for the ultimate victor, Mercedes driver Lewes Hamilton. Plagued by tyre problems and wearing Niki Lauda’s helmet as a tribute to the recently deceased driver, Hamilton hung on to take first place. Second was Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, and third Hamilton’s teammate, Valterri Bottas.

If you didn’t make it this year, and you’re not sure whether it’s worth the trip, here are my five reasons to travel to the French Riviera for the Monaco Grand Prix.

  1. Experience the excitement of the French Riviera during the Grand Prix.

Every year, the whole stretch of the French Riviera is buzzing for the Monaco Grand Prix. The event generates a hum of excitement you just don’t find anywhere else. Expect loads of events to attend, thousands of people and a party atmosphere. The entire region, centered around Monte Carlo transforms into an even more exhilarating place to visit. More than 120,000 spectators make the trip, and you should definitely be one of them!

The Monaco Grand Prix is one of the Triple Crown races, known to be the most difficult in the sport. It’s a 77-lap race of a 263 km track that packs in lots of sharp turns and zero room for mistakes. This very traditional race has a historical past, and in 2019, Monaco is the last remaining street track. Visitors have a unique opportunity to sit up front and close to all the action, smell the smoke burn and experience the volume of the engines.

Of course, its location helps make it an attractive place to visit, and the Grand Prix is part of the reason Monaco and the French Riviera have blossomed into such special destinations. And a holiday to the Monaco Grand Prix is guaranteed to about much more than just the race.

  1. Turn it into a road trip and visit Monte-Carlo and nearby cities.

Accommodation in Monte-Carlo during the Grand Prix is prohibitively expensive for some but staying anywhere in the French Riviera will give you access to plenty of fun. Turn your trip to the Grand Prix into a road trip, and you will see culture, art and beauty everywhere you go. Fine dining, fine hotels and fine entertainment are the watchwords, and if you come for the Grand Prix, you’ll end up staying because Monte-Carlo and neighbouring cities like Nice, offer so much more.

  1. Party with the stars – maybe!

As the Monaco Grand Prix begins just as the Cannes Film Festival finishes, you may well spot plenty of A-list celebs extending their holiday. Plenty of stars, such as Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Will Smith and Cameron Diaz have been seen at the Grand Prix over the years – who know who you might see? I can’t guarantee you’ll see an A-list celebrity, but there is definitely a high chance.

And if you don’t end up dancing next to an A-lister at a party, you will still have the time of your life. Monte-Carlo is famous for its nightlife all year round. Add in the excitement of the Grand Prix, and you’re in for a treat if you’re a social butterfly. Plenty of pre-and post-race fun can be found in the fine dining restaurants, casinos and bars in Monte-Carlo.

  1. Have a flutter at the Casino de Monte-Carlo.

If dancing’s not your thing, have a go at the tables at the world-famous Casino de Monte-Carlo. It’s been featured in two Bond movies, and in the original book Casino Royale by Ian Fleming. If Bond was a real person, he would definitely be found here.

It’s not the only casino in the area, though. Along the coast you’ll find the Hyatt Regency Nice Palais de la Mediterrane and Le Croisette Casino- Casino Barrire de Cannes, both very much worth visiting.

  1. Combine Grand Prix excitement with chilled out beach days.

The French Riviera boasts 71 miles of gorgeous coastal beaches and promises at least 300 days of sunshine every year. In short, you can’t come to the French Riviera and not go to one of the nearby beaches.

Monaco has a very small coastline, and it is generally the preserve of the wealthiest of visitors. Think superyachts and heliports for the most part. However, there is one nearby public beach and it’s perfect for a quick swim. La Plage du Larvotto is a pebbly, clean beach with plenty of amenities, bars and options for water sports. If you prefer your thrills on land, there is also an area for skateboarding and rollerblading.

Head along the coast to Nice and you’ll find the Bay of Angels, which has three miles of gorgeous, pristine beaches. There are also plenty of restaurants and places to shop along the Promenade de Anglais. In Cannes, the best beach is La Croisette, along the Boulevard de la Croisette, which is close to the film festival site – another chance to mingle with the celebs!