Dowager Queen of the Riviera
If you’re not staying with the Grimaldis (the royal family that has ruled Monaco since the 13th century), try the palatial Hotel de Paris. The regal stopping place of emirs and archdukes since its inception one year after the opening of the Grand Casino next door, the Hotel de Paris looms over the main square, a must-see for curious tourists and destination for the fabulously rich and very famous.
Much of the hotel’s acclaim owes to its highly rated restaurants, particularly the formal Le Louis XV, a dazzling jewel box that has been the domain since 1987 of Alain Ducasse, one of the world’s most celebrated chefs.
Here Ducasse prides himself on using humble Mediterranean ingredients of the finest quality and refining them into a superb, albeit simple, haute cuisine. The restaurant’s opulent Louis XV decor includes Baccarat crystal, damask linens, gold-rimmed china, and silver service.
The new Centre Thalassotherapie de Thermes Marins, wedged into a cliff adjacent to the hotel, is reached through an adjoining walkway beneath the hotel. Time spent at this state-of-the-art spa is—like an evening at Le Louis XV—sheer heaven.