Ensconced on the Mediterranean coast of France, near the border with Italy, this tiny, tax-free principality (the second-smallest state, behind the Vatican) is ruled by the Grimaldi family dynasty, whose reign began in the 13th century. The district of Monte Carlo is home to the eponymous casino of James Bond-film fame, its lush Italianate interiors designed in the late 19th century and overflowing with frescoes, crystal chandeliers and picture windows with magnificent views of nearby Cap-Martin. The Hotel de Paris is connected to the casino by passageway, and its 187 guest rooms and rococo public salons constitute Monte Carlo’s prestige address.
The coastal Avenue Saint-Martin is adorned with cliffside gardens and is home to the Monaco Cathedral, where Princess Grace was married (and now rests). The Golden Circle and the Avenue des Beaux-Arts feature haute couture shops, and Monaco’s culinary scene, reliably superb if somewhat conservative, lately has been infused with chic new Asian-flavored venues. Each May, the Formula One cars of the Monaco Grand Prix, one of the world’s most prestigious auto races, speed through the streets of the principality.
Hôtel de Paris
This palatial Belle Epoque palace-hotel in the heart of Monte Carlo overlooking the harbor is connected to the renowned casino by a passageway.