01. About Monaco

Monaco itself is a very small, built up area which is located some 13 – 15 miles from Nice in France. There are a lot of undulation changes in Monaco and many areas are accessed by public elevators/escalators. During the F1 period, getting around is made very difficult as many of the roads are closed to allow the cars to run on the track, and many other roads are closed for pedestrian access only.

It is very well policed during the Grand Prix, and by-and-large, most people will speak a reasonable amount of English, do try to be polite when asking though! (Pardon Madame/Messuier , parlez-vous anglais sil vous plais" will get a much better response than "Do you speak English?")

During F1 Monaco is at capacity meaning you should be prepared to wait; for cabs, trains, restaurants, hotel check-in etc etc, patience will help a lot! There are 100,000 people descending on an area roughly the size of Central Park in New York, most of whom don't speak the language.

There is no denying that it can be expensive during Grand Prix as most of the restaurants have special "F1 menus" which invariably is a 3-course meal for circa 100 - 200 Euro. Lunch can often be the same, and believe it or not, they are all packed.

The stands and facilities which are built temporarily to cater for the 12,000 stadium fans are all uncovered.

Weather is normally around 20 - 25 degrees but rain is not uncommon.

Currency is Euro and all electricity is by standard European Union socket, Monaco is by some margin one of the safest countries in the world, there are more cctv cameras per square mile than anywhere else in the world, their police also have a fearsome reputation of not being light on criminals.

02. Getting to the South of France

Monaco itself is a very small, built up area which is located some 13 – 15 miles from Nice in France. There are a lot of undulation changes in Monaco and many areas are accessed by public elevators/escalators. During the F1 period, getting around is made very difficult as many of the roads are closed to allow the cars to run on the track, and many other roads are closed for pedestrian access only.

Monaco is served by Nice International Airport (code NCE) with most major airlines flying there. Airlines which fly to Nice are:

  • Easyjet
  • Aer Lingus
  • Lufthansa
  • Air France
  • Alitalia
  • Swiss
  • Norwegian
  • Brussels Air
  • Delta (direct from JFK)
  • Emirates (direct from Dubai)
  • British Airways
  • Ryanair from Dublin

You can also take the train with Nice and Monaco train stations being served by Gare de Lyon in Paris with the excellent TGV Duplex high-speed trains, journey time of 5 hours 37 minutes to Nice and 6 hours 5 minutes to Monaco.

03. Where to stay?

Monaco itself has a variety of hotels, most of which are at the more luxurious end of the market and all of which during Grand Prix are eye-wateringly expensive! It is unlikely you will be able to book a hotel directly as the rooms are sold well in advance of the race to Monaco Grand Prix specialists and F1 / GP2 teams. Once you are in Monaco, everything is within walking distance, but do bear in mind that there are a lot of elevation changes/hills and that a lot of the roads are closed during the Grand Prix.

In addition to the hotels, there are a number of private charter yachts in the harbour, again these do come at a high cost and over the F1 weekend you will be sharing the yacht with lots of other weekend guests who have chosen to enjoy the viewing packages. If you can afford it, there is no substitute for being in the heart of Monaco during the GP.

If you are on a tighter budget, Nice is the most popular option in the South of France as it has excellent transport links (see point 8 below) and is a beautiful city in its own right. Nice is, by some margin, the largest city in the South of France and is located right on the Mediterranean and the "Bay of Angels".

Beausoleil is also a popular choice for Monaco as it is literally across a road from Monaco with one side being Monaco and the other being Beausoleil. You are within walking distance of everything but the hotels are quite a bit cheaper. The hotels in Beausoleil are mainly 3 or 2 star but do offer great convenience.

There are a number of smaller villages between Nice and Monaco, all of which offer hotels of varying quality, transport to these smaller villages can be a challenge as most hotels and towns are at capacity.

04. Getting around once there

Nice airport to central Nice is no more than 15 – 25 minutes depending on traffic, cabs cost around 35 – 40 Euro and there is a regular bus service. All hotels featured on MonacoGrandPrix.com come with a chauffeur driver to meet you on arrival at the airport and take you directly to your chosen hotel.

Once in central Nice, the most convenient way to Monaco for the race weekend is by train. There are trains every half hour or so and they take around 25 minutes. Do bear in mind there will be a lot of people queuing to use the train network so whilst the journey itself is only 25 minutes, you could be queuing and waiting on the train for longer.

We suggest allowing 1 hour 30 minutes from leaving your hotel to being at your viewing in Monaco, same on the way back. A tip to avoid queuing on the way back is to not leave immediately after the day’s action but to stay around in Monaco a little longer. If the train isn’t for you, there are private / shared car transfers available, a car will collect you at a pre-arranged time and take you from your hotel in Nice to Monaco, a lot of roads once you arrive into Monaco itself are inaccessible and as such the driver can only drop you off close to the viewing.

Taxi’s are also available from Nice and during Grand Prix cost between 100 and 150 Euro, you cannot pre-book coming back from Monaco. ALWAYS agree your fare with the driver before leaving. Lastly, there are a number of helicopter companies which can fly you from Nice to Monaco, fares available on the website, the flight itself is around 7 – 8 minutes, is stunning as you fly along the coastline and at the Monaco end a mini-van will take you as close to your viewing as it can get.

Do again be prepared for a bit of a queue as this service is very popular during GP. Helicopters will only fly from 08:00 to 20:00 in either direction.

05. Hotels

Monaco Grand Prix package prices largely depend on where you decide to stay. Hotels in Monaco are incredibly expensive during the Grand Prix, but they are of course located right at the heart of the action. Most Monaco hotels are 4 to 5 star and all are well located for the Grand Prix action.

Nice proves a very popular and much lower cost substitute with excellent transportation network to and from Monaco. Hotels here do vary quite significantly in quality, whilst the hotel might boast 3-stars, it is our experience that a lot of the cheaper hotels in Nice are more like a UK 2-star. Likewise, some of the 4-star properties are more akin to the 3-star grading in the UK. Rooms in the French hotels are always on the small side, however bear in mind that you are unlikely to spend a lot of time in the hotel as you'll be at the Grand Prix enjoying the F1 action most of the weekend.

06. Where to watch?

There are a mind-boggling array of vendors all offering “the best” views of the Monaco Grand Prix circuit. Budget will dictate where you watch from with a simple rule; the cheaper it is, the less good the view.

• Grandstands: All stands in Monaco are close to the track, given the circuit runs through the streets of the Principality. The stands are all very well sign-posted from the train station, just take your time and follow the sign to the appropriate stand. They all offer seating, some of which is bench style seating (not comfortable you need a seat cushion) or a regular plastic seat. All stands in Monaco are uncovered meaning you get wet if it rains and burned if it is sunny! Make sure you take sun-protection and plenty of water. There are vendors around selling food and drinks as well as “portaloo / portajohn” toilet facilities. The stands are always busy so be prepared for a bit of a wait to get in and out of them.

• Free viewing: There is none. There is also no “walking around” the circuit as you need the correct tickets to get you into the correct area, security and policing of the event is strict.

• Balconies or terraces. Many of the buildings located around the streets of Monaco offer spectacular views of the track, these are normally fully catered and offer private restrooms. These will vary between private residences and office space, with the number of passes issued being regulated by the police to one pass per 1 linear metre, there is no such thing as a “cheap” balcony, this invariably means that it is filled to capacity or poorly catered and perhaps with a sub-standard view of the circuit –sometimes all three! MonacoGrandPrix.com has several terraces which have been personally hand-selected for their spectacular views and comfort, we do not fill them to capacity so you will not be viewing from behind someone else. The menus are carefully chosen by us to cater for all tastes and our bar remains open as long as there is action on the circuit.

• Yachts: The main Port Hercule in Monaco which the track runs past is packed with yachts which you can view from. These yachts are chartered, the berths secured and the person chartering the yacht sells the space on, normally with food and drinks included. Some yachts can be accessed from shore and some need to be accessed by getting a rib tender from the second harbour (Fontville) into the main harbour (Port Hercule). In our experience, yachts tend to be some of the busiest places to view on Sunday, the ambience is wonderful and the view, if you get one, is quite good but do be aware you will be sharing the yacht with lots of other race fans. MonacoGrandPrix.com offers yacht viewing for all 3 days but recommends perhaps Thursday or Saturday as the better experience on board.

• Restaurants: Monaco has a number of restaurants located around the circuit and all offer a set menu with some offering a drinks package. Do be aware that very few of the restaurants in Monaco offer a particularly good view of the track, we would single out Le Café de Paris UPSTAIRS as an exception but this is only available on Saturday. (Sunday it is a private client which books the restaurant)

• Hotels: There are hotels around the circuit which offer viewing from their ‘suites’, some of which are nothing more than converted bedrooms. For 51 weeks of the year you can sleep in this room, then for Monaco GP weekend, the furniture is taken out and you can view from there. Most of these rooms are booked by private companies and split between a number of people, there are some rooms which are available privately.

07. Where to eat?

Monaco restaurants will inevitably have special Grand Prix menus. There are some spectacular Michelin Star restaurants in Monaco, Louis XV by Alain Ducasse boasting 3-Michelin Stars, Restaurant Joel Robuchon at the Metropole Hotel with 2 Michelin Stars and a host of other fine dining establishments. These will be booked well in advance of the event.

All of the hotels in Monaco offer a variety of dining, and there are hundreds of excellent restaurants in the Principality. Do be aware that these special F1 menus can be somewhat expensive, most of them require payment in full with the booking, and they will give you an allocated time slot.

Nice also has a plethora of Michelin star restaurants but also far more casual dining. There is a great deal of outdoor eating and if all you need is a pizza or a burger, this is easily accommodated. French and Italian cuisine is plentiful with lots of seafood and steak restaurants too. Very few restaurants have "F1 menus" on, but they will be busy. We don't recommend having to book unless it is fine dining, the quality and variety of restaurants in Nice is excellent.

MonacoGrandPrix.com has a restaurant guide available to all who book with us.

08. What do I see when I am at the track?

Monaco Grand Prix is not only about the F1 action, on each day there is a host of activity. Porsche Supercup, GP2, Formula Renault and various track displays mean that there’s rarely a whole lot of time though the day, there is racing action on from 08:30 to 17:30 each day.

Uniquely in Monaco, practice takes place on Thursday. There is NO Formula One action on Friday, click this LINK to see last years schedule to give you an idea of how the days will pan out, and perhaps to plan your train times etc. (Times have not varied a great deal in the past 3 or 4 years).

09. Can I sight-see / Walk the track?

You bet! The roads of Monaco reopen each day at around 19:00, this is an ideal time to walk the track, we heartily recommend it so you can see this amazing racetrack at first hand. You can also visit the Palace at Monaco Ville which is its own little town with lots of restaurants and shopping.

The Casino is open for those who wish to see, but they won't allow you access without your passport. Friday afternoon is another great time to enjoy the Principality as the roads are normally open from 14:00.

10. Nightlife!

Monaco is as much about night life as it is about the racing itself. With the Cannes film festival happening right next door it is bursting with A-List celebrities and a host of drivers.

The main party which attains the headlines is Amber Lounge, this is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights with the winning driver contractually obliged to attend Amber Lounge on Sunday evening. There is also JimmyZ's, Billionaires Club, Podium Lounge, Yacht Parties, Red Bull Energy Station and a whole lot more besides, if you would like to attend one of these we strongly recommend booking well in advance, MonacoGrandPrix.com are agents for all of the above.