Do you remember when we were kids and some people we knew (never us, of course!) would make prank phone calls and say “Do you have Prince Albert in a can? Well let him out!”
So now that I am nestled into the heart of Monte Carlo I can tell you that if Prince Albert is in a can, it’s Cannes, just down the road.
My guess is Prince Albert is revving up for the running of the Grand Prix in a few days.
The entire town is already layered in protective wires and behind barricades. Gentlemen, start your engines please.
JACQUES GARCIA MON AMOUR
Although I have never met the interior designer Jacques Garcia, I know that I am in love with him … or more precisely, his hotels. I want to write a master’s dissertation on the way his style has changed over the decades and what he has done to the look of luxury.
Every time I walk into the lobby of the Hotel Metropole in Monte Carlo, I am reminded again of the way Garcia combines historical periods of décor with modern twists and gives us comfortable but plush surroundings. Home was never this good.
The hotel is on the main square, right along with the Casino and the Hotel de Paris as well as all the fancy stores on the Avenue Beaux Arts and directly across the park from the cinema. They have the best afternoon tea in town, two big time restaurants and serve breakfast outdoors on a balcony overlooking the Casino.
There’s a perfectly manicured park out the front and beyond that, some shops and the cinema. In fact, after dinner last night we darted over to watch Coco Avant Chanel, the new movie starring Audrey Tatou as Coco. I understood about half the French, but the clothes were an international language of their own.
Aside from having the Jacques Garcia décor, a new ESPA spa, and this great location in the heart of town, the true reason for my loyalty to this hotel is the fact that is has a mall right beneath it! The mall is three floors of glam shops—many of them luxury big names. There are a number of gourmet foods shops, including a branch of Fauchon and the newest arrival—Laduree.
Laduree was once a Belle Epogue tea room in Paris, but in the last decade or so they were bought by businessmen who expanded the brand and have turned it into a luxe brand as meaningful as Louis Vuitton. The macaroons are probably the best in the world but must be consumed immediately, while the powdery shells are still moist and soft. I’ve been on a strict diet, but I am never one to skirt my responsibilities so I ate one rose and one salted caramel.
RUNNING OF THE ROSES
It’s kinda like the Kentucky Derby or the Triple Crown, in that the Cannes Film Festival (an hour away) is invariably in the same week as the Grand Prix. People hang off the balconies of apartments to see the action. There is a royal grandstand (just out my window as I write this) and you can book several different luncheon packages that assure you of not only a fine meal, but a ringside seat.
Trials begin May 21 but the final race is May 24. There are gastronomic treats available for the four days including lunch at the iconic Louis XV, Alain Ducasse’s three-star restaurant, which will cost you only €1030 on Mai 24. Café de Paris—a modest bistro across the street- has a lunch the same day for only €270. For reservations and the list of all available offers, go to www.montecarloresport.com or call for reservations 377-9806-3636.
Naturally if you plan to hang here, you have the look the part. Up until now you had a wide choice of big name designer shops and a handy array of “it” handbags, such as the one I saw yesterday in the window of YSL—a mere $22,000 for a gray croc bag.
Weep no more my lady, because Zara has come right to the heart of town, alongside the Hotel Hermitage and just behind the main square-park. This Zara is two stories high and takes up a city block with the most stunning clothes I’ve seen in years, all at affordable prices. The cute young things in their very tight jeans and very high heels are swarming all over the store.
If shopping, race cars or gambling aren’t your thing—not to worry. Just walking the hills and staring at the architecture and flower beds will delight your soul.
The cars are fun to look at, as are the dogs on leashes and the well-tanned and very rich locals.
If you are into whimsy, you may even chuckle over the built-in defibrillator stands ready for use in case of emergency.
By Suzy Gershman for PeterGreenberg.com.
Go on a shopping spree with Suzy! Join her October 13-21 traveling through Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro with Suzy Gershman’s Born to Shop & Spa tour with InterContinental Hotels. Contact Sarah Lahey at srlahey @ gmail.com for more information. And don’t forget to check out Suzy’s blog at www.borntoshoplady.blogpsot.com.
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