The Grand Prix is one of the most important events in the Riviera’s calendar. It’s the biggest and most prestigious, even more so than Cannes, and kick starts the summer season. Heading to Monaco for the race? Here’s what you’ll need to know before you go.
Monaco and the Principality are quite the place for the three months around the Grand Prix. The grandstands, crash barriers, tyres and blockades are set up two months before the race, and take about a month to disassemble afterwards. While flights to Monaco are cheap, be prepared for inflated prices along the Riviera during the event and into the summer. Ready? Set? Let’s go!
If you don’t already have your tickets then you’d better get on it. Tickets for the races are very expensive, more than you’d ever think to pay for a football match or other sporting event. The most popular place to watch it is from the grandstand, unless you know some friends with a private balcony overlooking the track or a fancy yacht moored in the harbour.
Prices vary according to the day, a bit like this:
- Thursday: the cheapest day, with the first practise sessions of the event. There’s one session in the morning and one in the afternoon and it’s the first chance to see the cars and the stars.
- Friday: only a few minor races take place in the morning and in the afternoon, entry to the grandstand is free.
- Saturday: prices get a bit more expensive for Saturday to see a F1 practise race in the morning and a qualifying session in the afternoon to determine who gets pole position. Afterwards there’s a GP2 race.
- Sunday: the most expensive day! There’s a warm-up session in the morning and then the big race takes place in the afternoon.
How to see the races for cheap?
Head to Rocher, the section located on the hillside beneath the Old Town. You’ll have amazing views over the whole circuit and costs only €70 on Sunday. The only thing, you’ll need a strong pair of binoculars to see anything. Also, don’t expect anything fancy in terms of amenities.
The next cheapest option is Tribune P, located on the harbour. Tickets will set you back €350 on race day and has minimum visibility but a lot of noise! Prices rise from here, with some tickets costing as much as €550+ for race day.
Monaco isn’t a big place, so you can imagine that hotels in Monaco book up pretty quickly and go for a premium price during the event. The best place to stay if you don’t want to splash out on a €700 per night room in the city, is Beausoleil, a French town that neighbours Monaco. Here you can find a dozen family-run hotels within walking distance of the casino and the harbour.
The further away you stay, the cheaper hotels will be. Hotels in Nice or Ventimiglia with 2-3 stars will set you back around €150 per night. The races in Monaco are just a short train ride away.
Eating and drinking
If you want to avoid getting ripped off at Monaco’s restaurants, there are a few things you should know when planning your trip. Stick to sandwiches for lunch, which you can buy at one of the many snack bars or bring along with you from your hotel. Save even more by making them yourself from some delicious goodies from the supermarket.
For dinner in Monaco, head to Monaco-Ville, the old town on top of the Rocher. Look for anything without a menu translated into English and you should be alright. For some restaurants, advance booking is essential. For evenings drinks, head to Tribune T, where you can enjoy some drinks on the circuit. There are lots of small bars around there.
Are you ready for the Grand Prix? Will you be watching it from home or from Monaco?