Monaco, November 2017.
“I must hurry back to my house and my flowers in Monaco”- Lillie Langtry
Have you ever dreamed of being so stupendously rich enough to go on a spending spree of a lifetime and quite literally buy whatever you wanted no matter the price tag? Well for people who live here it’s not so much a dream as it is a reality. Welcome to the playground for the absurdly affluent.
Yes kids, I’m talking about Monaco. What can I say about this place? Me and a friend were on a trip to Nice, France and being keen explorers we decided to take a little excursion to the super rich tax-haven. Now, all I knew about this place before setting off is that it is a rich, small country that hosts a car race. Oh and Selena Gomez was in the film about it. In other words, very little. From the moment I stepped off the train at Monaco-Ville station I had stepped into another world. The first thing I noticed was how everything (and I mean everything) in sight was in pristine condition, even at the train station. There’s no cracks in the pavements, no graffiti on the walls, no chewing-gum stamped into the ground and no funny smells as you walk past a drain. It was like being in a movie.
As you follow the narrow walk ways through the backstreets of Monaco you may stumble across a chic little Zadig & Voltaire boutique or a maybe a Ferrari dealership. The women you see out shopping are dripping in diamonds and Dior and the gents are ever so dapper in their Ralph Lauren sweaters and Rolex studded wrists. You simply cannot walk twenty-or-so feet without hearing the sudden roar of a Lamborghini zoom past you at an astonishing speed. As me and my friend we walking around, we spotted celebrity US model Jeremy Meeks and his girlfriend on a casual stroll around the neighbourhood. Yes, the one who was in jail. One thing about Monaco is that it really is the perfect place for bumping into celebrities. The country is only 2km² and a third of the population are millionaires. The place is positively crawling with A-listers, mostly due to the extremely lenient tax laws. The other two thirds either work for the millionaires or are Monegasque nationals who are entitled to a reduced housing rate.
Coming from some such a lower class background, I really was amazed to see how the the other half live. It was a bitter sweet experience. Though I was enjoying seeing the pretty sights of Monaco, I was a tad insecure about the fact I was essentially the poorest dressed person in the country. Part of me felt a slight resentment (or jealousy) to these people for squandering so much money on luxuries they simply don’t need. I saw little old ladies in shops with barely enough life left in their manicured hands to raise their platinum MasterCards to the counter. Another part of me felt that I wasn’t good enough to be there which would have been different if the people were actually friendly but in all honesty I really got the impression that rich people of Monaco only care about each other. I didn’t even get so much as a smile and I couldn’t figure out why.
Despite this, it is still well worth a visit if you’ve got a free weekend and a spare few thousand to spend on a hotel. If you are like me and you don’t live in the top 3% however you could do what I did and stay in Nice and visit Monaco as a day trip. The 20 minute train journey is literally 3€ from Gare de Nice Ville with the most picturesque views of the Côte d’Azur you’ve ever seen.
Friday, 16th February 2018.