The country of Monaco is a small one, and one of its most famous neighborhoods is Monte Carlo. (Note: it isn’t the capital of Monaco – that honor belongs to the neighborhood of Monaco-Ville, also known as Le Rocher.) Monte Carlo can refer to two things – the ward of Monte Carlo, where the famous Monte Carlo Casino is, as well as the Monte Carlo Quarter (one of four in Monaco), which encompasses several neighborhoods.
What will you find in Monte Carlo? Well, it’s a neighborhood on a steep hill, at the base of the Alps in the French Riviera. It is overshadowed by the Monte Carlo Casino, the most famous casino in the world, haunting grounds of the rich and famous. But you can also see the Hotel de Paris, the Café de Paris, and the home of the Opera de Monte Carlo, the Salle Garnier. You’ll also find the country’s only public beach.
- Monte Carlo is home to Monaco’s Formula One Grand Prix car race. This is an annual race (held since 1929!), and is one of the most prestigious car races in the world. It is run on the Circuit de Monaco – a narrow race course on the very streets of Monaco. It is extremely dangerous to race it, as the streets’ twists and turns don’t lend themselves to fast driving. Watch this cool historic video of the very first race, and then this more modern look at the race. Then check out thisarticle on walking the race route. Discuss how things change in almost a century – from the town itself to cars to the way people view luxury.
- You can see Monte Carlo in any number of films, from James Bond to Alfred Hitchcock. More recently, it’s been seen in Iron Man 2, Madagascar3, and the video game Gran Turismo. But part of the siren call of Monte Carlo, for moviemakers, is the glitz and glamour. Read this top ten list of one writer’s top ten films set in Monte Carlo. If you were to make a movie set in Monte Carlo, what would it be about? Jot down a few ideas, and discuss what the allure of Monte Carlo is, as a backdrop for film.
- But the main draw of Monte Carlo is money. First, there are no taxes in Monte Carlo for citizens. How does Monte Carlo make money? Tourism and casino profits. And the casino, oh, the casino. Take a look at this 360 panoramic view (scope around!) outside of the beautiful building of the Casino. Then check out this live webcam of the Place du Casino. It’s especially beautiful at night. What draws your eye the most? Is it the historic architecture? The cars and glamour? Or the juxtaposition of wealth and everyday life? Do you think it would be strange to live there, where the permanent population is so small, and the tourism population is so large?