The Monaco Yacht Club is one of Europe’s most exclusive clubs. This place has everything: Russian oligarchs, Chinese titans of industry and members of Europe’s royal families mingle with the rich and famous from around the world.
While entry to the club is probably unfeasible for most people of average means, Bloomberg reports that there’s still a way in to the club that was founded by the late Ranier III, Prince of Monaco and husband of Grace Kelly.
For those who don’t hold a golden entrance key, there’s still a way in – to the Foster+Partners-designed building, that is. Curious tourists need to visit the Wine Palace.
Of course, becoming a member requires two sponsors, approval by club president Prince Albert II, and a fee the club declined to disclose.
The club boasts some impressive stats: It keeps 3,200 bottles of wine, Champagne, and spirits on its shelves. Most are French, with Bordeaux producers Château Smith Haut Lafitte and Château Cheval Blanc being particularly hot sellers. Prices start from just €10 ($12) a bottle and average around €40, despite the boîte’s fashionable location. The food menu is compact but ticks all the boxes, with a varied cheese platter, foie gras, palm-size tartines, smoked fish and, in summer, a pretty pile of tiny heirloom tomatoes and rounds of fresh mozzarella.
A seat on the club’s terrace allows for prime people-watching. And while the Wine Palace might not be officially part of the Yacht Club, many of the club’s members will visit the restaurant to peruse its wine selection.
Monaco boasts an impressive array of vaunted restaurants, five Michelin-starred, eleven Michelin-recommended. But for travelers on a budget, Bloomberg interviewed several locals and assembled a list of sleeper picks:
“A well-known Japanese-Thai spot on the ground-level of a very standard apartment complex, the bland exterior here belies how trendy the restaurant actually is. Reservations are essential, especially if you want to sit outside. There is an indoor dining room with a dozen tables and chandeliers dripping from the deep red ceiling, plus a wood pavilion in the peaceful garden out back. 24 Av. Princesse Grace; Lunch 12–2:30 p.m., dinner 7:30–11 p.m.”
“The Mediterranean-leaning Sass Café is a great pick for dinner. It serves such delicate dishes as tagliolini with prawns and rucola or Provençal sea bass to tables of suited and heeled couples. 11 Av. Princesse Grace; dinner nightly from 8 pm.”
Monte-Carlo Beach Club:
“Classic Côte d’Azur embodied: Think chairs with beautiful white-and-blue striped cushions and iconic views from the terrace, especially late in the day when the sun starts setting behind the mountains and the water and all of Monte Carlo stretch out before you. Nicolas Bellavance-Lecompte, co-founder of design fair Nomad Monaco, says it makes the most elegant of aperitivo hours: “I like the negroni, and to eat, I have the barbagiuan, a fritter with chard and ricotta, which is very Monaco.” 2 Av. Princess Grace; open daily.”
“Monte Carlo staffers whose job it is to know where to go— a bartender at Hôtel Metropole, the concierge at Hôtel de Paris, and two clued-in employees of the Casino de Monte-Carlo (which, to be fair, does have the same owner)—recommend Buddha Bar, once home to the 154-year-old casino’s cabaret bar. People come for sushi and stay for mojitos, which are still having a moment on the Riviera. If you don't want to go to a club but still want to listen to music and dance a little, this is the spot. Place du Casino; 6 p.m.–2 a.m. daily.”
“By day, this Karl Lagerfeld-designed Joël Robuchon restaurant is for hotel guests only, but nights from May to October, the outdoor restaurant is open to all. It’s a low-key contrast to Robuchon’s formal restaurants within the hotel; the fare is simpler and seasonal. There might be lobster medallions and eggplant risotto, sandwiches, grilled meats, or salads with white tuna belly and anchovies. Diners, Champagne in hand, tend to be mid-30s and up, a mix of couples, families, and friends out for a refined but relaxed dinner. Inside Hôtel Metropole, 4 Avenue de la Madone; from 7:30 p.m. daily May to October.”
Now that the famous Monaco Yacht Show has come and gone, tourists looking to avoid massive crowds can easily enjoy sightseeing and local amenities without needing to push through crowds of Lanvin-wearing beauties and the bajillionaires they begrudgingly tolerate.
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