Not the place for a heart attack
With its combination of advanced age and staggering wealth, no Principality would be complete without a Heart Centre, for those whose life of sedentary excess gives rise to need for a speedy coronary artery bypass operation.
A heart bypass however will not bypass your wallet.- it will make a definitive shunt onto it and drain it of all available contents .
Unless you are certain you are experiencing a cardiac arrest and carrying unlimited international medical insurance, you are advised against seeking a casual diagnosis for chest pain in Monaco. Anyway, its probaby indigestion.
The dark history of the Casino at Monte Carlo
In 1872 the finest architectural exponent of the Belle Epoche style, Charles Garnier, was commissioned to redesign the Casino. His triumph was the Salle Mauresque: frescos, exotic tapestries and carpets, eight chandeliers, statues modeled on society beauties. A fitting setting for the ruin of thousands of the Casino's clients.
Many adventurous young men from noble families across Europe were drawn by the notoriety and glamour of the gaming room. Few won fortunes, but many watched their fortunes drain away in just one evening, at the caprice of chance. Every remaining franc, including the fare home, would be staked on one last deperate hope of recovery. Hope dashed, everything was lost. Some returned to their hotel rooms and commited suicide, leaving notes of regret to their now impoverished families. Others jumped to their deaths from the Casino gardens, their bodies washed ashore days later. In its first fifteen years, an estimated three thousand players committed suicide following the loss of their considerable fortunes at these tables.
The memoirs of a Casino policier of the 1870's recount the fate of a young Polish aristocrat. After some hours, one last play - one spin of the wheel - spelt his complete ruin. In front of the other players he drew out a pistol, put it to his temple, and blew out his brains, his blood spattered on the exquisite carpet. Valets rushed to carry away his crumpled body and clean up. Within a half hour play re-formed around the same table, the croupier intoning his fateful invitation "Faites vos jeux", "Rien ne va plus"..
Nowadays the green baize is part of the entertainment industry - people bet only what they can afford to lose. Which they probably will, eventually. But you never know - luck may be with you?
- Casino and Gambling
Not the place to shop with your gold card - unless backed by large quantities of the actual yellow stuff. Often the goods are not priced: if you need to know, its not for you.
Like the casino, this hunting ground is strictly for high rollers. Suitable only for those whose main mission in life is spending yet more money.
Tourists dresscode - keep your kit on
Monaco, in common with its spiritual twin, the Vatican, goes to great pains to maintain public propriety. You are warned not go bare chested or saunter around the principality in swimming shorts.
Personally I don't think this goes far enough.
They need to ban all tourists wearing cheap sportswear and rucksacks, baseball cap backwards, or whose pants appear to be falling down. Insist all visiting men wear a dark suit and tie and women haut couture with at minimum 5-inch heels, and £30k of Choppard sparklers. Those with a Body Mass Index registering "grossly obese" to be turned away at the borders.
Only then will Monaco be truly for the beautiful people. If mostly desserted.
pound of flesh
Nothing much, but if you are travelling with currency other than Euros, you will be hard pressed to find a bank that will convert your currency. There are several Bureaux de Change,
but be prepared for hefty surcharges. My tip is to change up some money before entering
In the cooler Winter temperatures a fur coat is the essential wrap. No animal rights campaigners will get far here - luxury furs are a womans birthright in Monaco. Here mother and daughter in matching furs take the pooch for walkies. The pooch has its own fur, of course.