Glorious sunshine, gleaming white yachts, and Lacoste a lot
t-shirts on suntanned bodies, this small Mediterranean principality closes its streets and
opens her heart to you.
Welcome to the Grand Prix of Monaco.
Unashamed wealth lines the streets, with designer clothes and
luxurious cars equivalent to the average mortgage. The Grand Prix is best followed on
television, but to really feel the atmosphere, this is the place to be.
Catching the rays on the deck of a yacht..... The gentle
lapping of the waves is drowned by roaring, high-powered engines going through their
paces. The atmosphere is warming up, and the distinct aroma of burning compounds fills the
Slight traces of fuel
vapour drift up to the otherwise cloudless blue sky. Saturday is the final practice day,
as the drivers battle for pole position.
With only 20 starting places on the grid
available - due to the hazards of fast-paced, formula one machines, racing through the
narrow streets around the Casino - there are losers before the start.
Watching the Grand Prix in Monaco can be tricky, as even tickets
for the practice days go quickly!
The helicopter arrival of Prince Rainier and his family forge regal
links with the race; Princess Stephanie even named her swimwear collection Pool Position.
The tribune along the start-finish
straight is considered by many to be the best; where you could even sneak a peak at
Princess Stephanie urging on her favourites - many of the Grand Prix drivers have homes in
this tax-free haven.
Another exciting tribune is at the first curve. As the lights
turn, front grid drivers step on the gas to get the tightest line first. Even Michael
Schumacher's race was ended here one year.
Then it's a long, climb uphill; yet the drivers reach the top almost
as fast as they've clicked through the gears.
There are seats along here, although you'll never get a good picture,
unless you're an expert with the pan. This is a place to feel the raw energy of the racing
machines in your eardrums.
A quick left, and then a right-hand swing around the Casino. The
tribune here is a great place for some palm trees and ocean backgrounds in your shots.
At the Casino you can also book a table for a race day menu with
ice-cold champagne, or if you have a room at the Hotel de Paris, look down from the
The cars descend towards the Mirrabeau curve, where Michael Brundle
once had a car go over his head, and coolly said that it was one way to find out which
tyres the driver was using.
There are shops and restaurants along here that offer places at a
How about watching the flames shoot out of the exhaust? At this
tribune, that's what you'll see as the cars reach the Mediterranean and enter the slightly
Tunnel access is only for stewards, emergency crews, and lucky
photographers with accreditation.
Wherever you are, you will see agency photographers walking the course
during the race. They will be lucky to get an incident, but they are working on the unique
scenery pics that make the Monaco Grand Prix so special.
Feel the force as the drivers come out of the tunnel, and watch them
manoeuvre through the chicane.You're right by the marina at these tribunes, and can even
watch the party people getting drunk on their yachts. Every year someone goes overboard.
Past the moorings, the drivers cruise along the harbour road and
around the open air pool (the majority of tribunes are here); slowing right down for the
Virage de la Rascasse then gearing themselves for the home straight acceleration, (or
previously) a visit to the pits.
The standing area on the rock-face of La Pelouse affords a superb view
of the most scenic race track in the world, but transferred onto film the cars may look
minuscule in the frame; unless you have telephoto equipment.
There's always an opportunity for some candid photography though.
As well as a few memorable pictures, you'll get a
roasting tan over the long weekend. For some of us, this is called work.
Each night the circuit is opened and people can drive
around the streets in their own Ferrari cabriolets; though 30kmh is the speed limit for
Whether it's Luis Crystal Roederer - the King of
Champagnes - on ice, or Heineken in a can, the Monaco flavour remains the same; even the
Germans sing out the Grand Prix toast in an almost French accent: Prost!
Combining major sporting events, like Forumla 1, with travel plans appeals to many. If
you're like me, you might want to visit a Grand Prix race or two on your travels. So, with
one eye on the F1 calendar, I've done the research for you.
Monaco Travel Notes:
Additional travel links to get you on your way to the Principality in the South of France.
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