MONTE CARLO (Grand Prix)
The independent principality of Monaco is famous as the playground of the Côte d’Azur. With nice beaches, elegant hotels and a vibrant nightlife, this tiny domain is a favorite haunt of the jet set. In the possession of the Grimaldi family for more than 700 years, a treaty with France guarantees Monaco’s independence as long as the principality is governed by the Grimaldis. The fashionable enclave numbers only about 32,000 inhabitants and is smaller than New York’s Central Park, but it boasts some of the most expensive real estate in the world. In addition to its luxury hotels and beautiful beaches, Monaco is noted for its mild climate and magnificent scenery. Once an exclusive wintering stop for Europe’s aristocracy, today there are more than five million visitors annually. Of the principality’s four sections - La Condamine, Fontvieille, Monaco-Ville and Monte Carlo, the latter two rank highest on every visitor’s must-see list. In Monte Carlo, the Grand Casino is perhaps Monaco's most outstanding attraction. For more than a century, the principality's livelihood was centered beneath the copper roof of this splendid establishment. The resemblance to the Paris Opera House is less than accidental since they share the same architect, Charles Garnier. Also facing the square are the famed Hotel de Paris and the more modest Café de Paris.