Five places to eat, drink and schmooze in Monte Carlo (during the Davis Cup tie and the Rolex Masters):
The dining terrace at the Monte Carlo County Club
Those who sit around the white table cloths are there to see and be seen; the clay-court tennis, being played out just below them, is only of minor importance. There have been times when the players, angry at being ignored, or angry at being distracted, have shouted up at the diners. The response? They barely stopped to put down their flutes and their forks. But when the diners do get involved, they want everyone to know about it. Just because you’re having a 200-euro lunch, that doesn’t mean you’re above whistling at any players who happen to displease you.
A school disco for billionaires. Don’t bother getting there before midnight. And expect to pay 20 euros for a can of coke (if you’re going teetotal), more for anything stronger.
The Hermitage Hotel
Life used to be rowdier at the Hermitage. On the occasion of a dinner party with half a dozen male friends at the Hermitage – this was just before the First World War – a Russian duke blithely ordered sixty bottles of Champagne, and after they sank only fifteen of them, they smashed the others by flinging them against the marble pillars and mirrors in the dining room, before taking pot shots at the crystal chandeliers with their revolvers.
Another Romanov was so addicted to the smell of just-pulped strawberries that he would order a dozen bowls of the fruit to be delivered to his suite every morning, whether or not they were in season. After working the strawberries into a mush, he would inhale deeply, and then demand that they be immediately removed. Don’t expect any of that mayhem, but this is an intriguing place, great for people watching.
Stars and Bars
For the visiting Americans pining for a burger, walk down to the harbour.
The Monte Carlo Casino
Inside, this isn’t half as glamorous as you imagine it to be. All casinos have an air of glossy-haired, shiny-faced despair and sadness about them, but nowhere is the gap between expectation and reality bigger than in the Principality. But, if you’ve never been before, worth a quick visit.