Don’t miss the cutting-edge exhibitions at the Villa Paloma, the Principality’s contemporary art museum housed in a pristine, white Belle Époque villa perched on a cliff beside the botanical gardens. Down by the Larvotto beach, 1900s-style Villa Sauber, the second museum of the Nouveau Musée de Monaco, is devoted to seasonal shows with an international line-up of 20th-century artists and installations.
Opened in 2014, the Francis Bacon MB Art Foundation, a non-profit institute devoted to research and housed in a jewel-box villa, offers a fascinating private collection of the British artist, who lived in Monaco on and off between 1946 and 1950 and continued to visit regularly until his death in 1992. Visits by private appointment.
For a big night out, try to catch a performance of Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo, headed by choreographer Jean-Christophe Maillot, whose avant-garde dance troupe is known for its reinterpretation of Les Ballets Russes.
Tennis enthusiasts flock to the Principality every April for the renowned Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters tournament, a week-long clay court event at the Monte-Carlo Country Club (which is actually just over the border at Roquebrune-Cap-Martin).
Come July, the atmosphere heats up at the Monte-Carlo Sporting Summer Festival (July 6-August 18), now in its 45th year, where the biggest rock and pop stars of the planet perform at the Salle des Étoiles or the Garnier Opera. This year’s programme includes everyone from Ringo Starr and Santana to Cirque du Soleil and Rita Ora.
If you long for a moment of peaceful contemplation and want to escape from it all, take a long wander through the spectacular botanical gardens of the Jardin Exotique de Monaco, high on a flank of a cliff on the Moyenne Corniche. Highlights include 7,000 species of bizarrely-shaped cacti, breathtaking views, and a grotto inside the garden with stalactite and stalagmite-lined Neolithic dwellings, plus a Museum of Prehistoric Anthropology featuring relics of Stone Age life on the Riviera.
Up on the Rock, the Musée Océanographique de Monaco is a wonderland of tropical and Mediterranean aquatic creatures, from the diaphanous leafy sea dragons and a six-metre deep tank of circling sharks to the displays of whale skeletons and stuffed marine fauna.
No one leaves Monte Carlo without a tour of the Palais Princier, the salmon-pink royal palace where you’ll be able to catch a glimpse of the state rooms.
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From France Today magazine