The Monaco Experience

The tiny principality of Monaco on the French Riviera has long captured the imagination as the world’s most glamorous playground for rich playboys. If it wasn’t already famous enough for the Formula 1 Grand Prix that has run on the city’s streets annually since 1929, it became indelibly etched on the consciousness of a generation when the American actress Grace Kelly married Prince Rainier III, in 1956.

Even now, events such as the Monaco Grand Prix are never far removed from Hollywood glitz and glamour. Many film stars and other celebrities attend the event, and its proximity, both in distance and date, to the Cannes Film Festival has been used as a cross-promotional tool in the past.

Monaco is home to many Formula 1 drivers. Most of them would claim that it is a good location due to the easy access to all the European race tracks, and the team factories in England and Italy. But the real reason which they won’t readily admit to, is that Monaco is a tax haven, where inhabitants pay no income tax. That could help a young maverick race driver save a packet for his retirement!

During a race weekend, the whole marina is packed with yachts. Many are rented out as viewing places for the race. A lot of flats overlooking the race track are also rented out for outrageous sums of money.

Along the route that the racetrack takes, it swerves around the Grand Casino de Monte Carlo. Gambling has been an integral part of the principality’s income since 1856. Since then a few more casinos have sprung up to benefit from all the tourist traffic. Interestingly, the citizens of Monaco are forbidden from using the gambling facilities of their casinos, and identity documents are checked at the door to make sure no one breaks this rule.