MONACO – A Journey of the Senses


By Sherry Amatenstein

Global Living Magazine – Issue 4 | December 2012/January 2013

    I defy any sentient being to be depressed when he or she is within the environs of this jewel of the Cote d’Azur.

The principality of Monaco, at 0.75 square miles (1.95 square kilometers), is legendary for its gleaming casinos, Porsches, yachts and tax haven possibilities. Yet this tiny country, long considered a playground for the uber-rich, is more than a place where fortunes can be lost and sometimes (if lady luck is smiling) won. This magical sliver of land offers priceless pleasures for those in search of a revitalization of the spirit.

The sensory indulgence begins at the Nice International Airport where you board the helicopter provided by Heli Air Monaco for the six-minute glide over sapphire water, God-kissed mountains and beckoning skyscrapers. (Although some moguls, too impatient to wait 10 minutes for the next Heli Air craft, rent their own helicopter for the leg of the trip.)

No matter. The flight, with its amuse-bouche views of Monaco nestled on a sparkling rock called Mont Des Mules, is an amazing appetite stimulant for the journey of the senses lying ahead.

“Precious Stone Set in a Silver Sea”

This phrase from Shakespeare’s Richard II has often been cited in an attempt to describe the principality founded in 1866 in honor of Prince Charles III. The Grimaldis, one of the most influential families of Genoa, wrested control of the little territory on Christmas Eve, 1297 when Francois Grimaldi disguised himself as a monk and while the inhabitants were at church, led his troops to power.

Today, of course, Prince Albert II of the Grimaldis presides over the monarchy’s 30,000 residents – 25 percent are native Monegasques, the rest French, Italian and other nationalities. In 2011, for the third year in a row, Monaco held the crown for the worlds most expensive real estate market.

Looking at this luxe enclave today, a home away from home for monied visitors from the Middle East, China, the United States and Russia, it is difficult to believe Monaco was once a humble (though exquisite!) fishing village. The turning point came in the mid-nineteenth century when the Prince of Monaco, Charles III, began construction of the first casino. It is not necessary to gamble to enjoy the stunning belle époque jewel, Casino de Monte-Carlo.

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