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Off-Track Activities – Monaco Grand Prix

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What do to away from the track in Monaco, Nice and further afield when you are coming to town for the Monaco Grand Prix, including advice and ideas for extended holidays on the French Riviera. This year’s race takes place on May 26-29, 2016.

Casino, nightlife and things to do in Monaco

Entrance to the Casino de Monte Carlo will set you back €10, just don’t forget to bring your passport and to pack something smart to wear. Jackets are recommended for men, and no trainers are allowed. Even if you are not staying in Monaco (and let ‘s face it, most fans can’t afford to!) it’s still worth soaking up a bit of the pre or post-race atmosphere in Monaco.

La Rascasse is a lively club that’s not as bankrupting as Jimmy’z, Black Legend or Moods (expect to pay at least €30 a drink if you find yourself in one of these bars.) With the party spilling out onto the racetrack itself on the Friday and Saturday nights, this is a fun place to grab a beer before heading off for some dinner and shuteye – or maybe a few more affordable beers – back in Nice.

No weekend in Monaco would be complete if you didn’t make the trip up the hill to check out the Prince’s Palace area of the principality, with exceptional view of the surrounding area. You can also take a tour of the state apartments. Other places to see in Monaco are detailed in the official Visit Monaco site. More information on what to do at the track is in the Trackside section of this guide.

Things to do in Nice

There’s always something to see or do in Nice. In addition to the activities below, there’s also some interesting 2016 activities. The Stade Charles Erhrmann in Nice is hosting concerts by Coldplay (May 24) and Maroon 5 (May 29); more details here. Also on  Grand Prix weekend (May 26-29), there will be an Italian food and wine fair on the Promenade de Anglais every day from 10am to 8pm with around 150 vendors.

Old Town

Not the cheapest place to stay, but well worth a visit if you have time to spare in Nice. The Vieille Ville is all tiny winding streets and red tiled roofs, colourful architecture, food markets and cosy little cafes where you can sit and watch the world go by. Also great for an evening out, the Old Town has a host of superb restaurants.

Castle Hill

Grab your suncream and a bottle of water, and head up Castle Hill for breathtaking views over the city and beyond. It’s a bit of a trek at over one hundred steps up, but with plenty of benches en route, plus waterfalls, war memorials and a café for a well-earned rest at the top, it’s well worth it. There’s also a lift at the eastern end of the beach that will take you halfway up. From there it’s a gentle walk to the top.

Art & Architecture

Culture vultures will be more than satisfied with what Nice has to offer. From the impressive collection of modern masterpieces at Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain to the colourful impressionist works found at Galerie Jean Renoir and Musée Matisse, the artistic leaning in the galleries and museums of Nice is very much towards the modern. Musée National Message Biblique Marc Chagall is another must-see if you have a few spare days in Nice – a collection mainly focussed around Chagall’s religious pieces. And in direct contrast to the modern art on show in Nice’s galleries is the profusion of churches and cathedrals worth checking out. Cathédrale Saint Nicolas is one of the best-known examples of Russian Orthodox building outside Russia itself, and Chapelle de la Miséricorde is a Baroque masterpiece – as is the tiny Eglise de l’Annonciation.

Private Beaches

The end of May is a gorgeous time to be on the French Riviera. Nice’s town beaches are shingly, but the beachfront hotels and restaurants more than make up for the ouch-factor in the luxury service they provide their patrons and visitors. If you have the time, try to devote at least one afternoon in Nice to a bit of cocktail-sipping and reading on the beach. Many have lockers and neat matting to guide you out for your dip in the sea, and the poshest of the lot is Plage Beau Rivage. For watersports, try Blue Beach.

Riviera holidays

Your grandstand tickets are booked and you’re coming to the Monaco Grand Prix, so why not extend your trip a little and make it part of a proper summer holiday? Whether you simply stay on in Nice for a day or two at either end, or if you fancy renting an apartment in neighbouring Antibes, St Tropez or St Maxime, there are plenty of options for making the most of your trip.

And for something really special, there’s always the opportunity to fly out to Barcelona for the Spanish Grand Prix (May 8-10), spend a leisurely ten days making your way up the coast to the French Riviera, before checking out the Monaco Grand Prix and flying home out of Nice. It’s a short flight or a half day by road, and trains go via pretty Marseille.  Here’s a run-down of our favourite places to stay near Monaco.

Saint Raphael

A great place for campers and families who like a big choice in beaches – though with plenty of hotels and rental apartments too – Saint Raphael is a stunning port town just 60km from Nice.  Full of Belle Epoque architecture as well as some colourful Byzantine influence too, it’s a simply stunning place to spend a few days with the mountains as a backdrop.

Cap d’Antibes

Stunning beaches, palm-fringed promenades and long balmy evenings await you in glamorous Antibes. It’s also a great spot for art lovers and art collectors, with several impressive galleries and museums for both appreciating and purchasing art and sculpture. Pablo Picasso lived here and was deeply inspired the striking colours of Antibes.

St Paul-de-Vence

A walled medieval village overlooking the Riviera, this well known artists’ retreat is stunningly unspoilt – a real Provencal gem that’s also picture-postcard pretty. Think mazes of cobbled streets and wide, lush gardens. St Paul-de-Vence is found 12km inland from the Cote d’Azur and well worth a stopover of a day or two.

Villefranche Sur Mer

A quiet resort with better beaches than Nice and plenty of yacht-watching on offer during the long summer months. Check out the Citadelle St Elme which dates back to Roman times, and be prepared to eat out or make do with the offerings of its two rather small supermarkets.

Sanremo

A hop over the border in north western Italy, Sanremo is a chic harbour town with some wonderful shopping, good beaches, plenty of ice cream parlours and a big casino. Its train station links with all the major cities along the French Riviera, and is only 75 minutes from Nice airport by road. This is where we stayed for the race last year and we can highly recommend it.

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