After the drive from Cannes we parked in an underground parkade on the waterfront, just off Princess Grace Avenue. This required a hike up the hill towards the casino, followed by about 78 stairs. A bit challenging for some of the passengers, but the sights were definitely worth the effort. Having visited Las Vegas and a couple of U.S. casinos in the RV for meals, this is unlike anything we have seen before. About the best description is classy and stunning.
Monte Carlo Casino
One of the most representative examples of Belle Epoque architecture, the first stone was laid by Prince Albert I, in the presence of Prince Charles III on May 13th 1858. The brainchild of Prince Charles III, the design and construction was entrusted to 57 year old business-man and art lover, Francois Blanc. He hired the best architects and artists available, with the casino opening on February 18th 1863. However, this is more than just a casino, as a ballroom was added and the adjacent Hotel de Paris opened in January 1864.
Monte Carlo, translated means “Mount Charles”, in honour of the sovereign that envisaged and guided the project to completion.
Our first glimpse of the Monte Carlo Casino from in front of the Fairmont Hotel at the Grand Prix track hairpin bend. Out front are the 78 stairs we climbed to access the esplanade that leads up to the square.
Atop the stairs, the Esplanade continues up to the Monte Carlo Square. The Esplanade abounds with ultra expensive shops.
The front and main entrance to the Monte Carlo Casino.
The Hotel de Paris built around the square and adjacent to the casino.
Hotel de Paris fleet of cars, which I believe are a Maserati and a Bugatti.
View of the Monte Carlo Casino from the opposite side of the square.
At precisely 09:00, the doors opened and as I was in group # 1, we entered the hallowed halls and rooms of the Monte Carlo Casino. We might not be dressed like “007”, but we sure felt like him entering those front doors. The small entrance foyer leads to the Atrium.
The Casino Atrium is a great hall where tickets are purchased for the gambling lounges. This was actually the first casino, and it contained a small room for a 15-man orchestra. It is a long, narrow room with 28 marble columns, supporting a balustraded balcony lit by bronze chandeliers. Paintings depict the views from Monte Carlo towards Italy.
The Atrium. Departing the Atrium you enter the first gambling room.
La Salle Renaissance
A small, but imposing vestibule at the entrance to the Salle Europe, this is one of the oldest rooms in the casino. Transformed in 1968 and again completely renovated in 2012, it now houses a selection of slot machines.
Inside the small La Salle Renaissance looking through the door into the much larger 2nd gambling room, La Salle Europe.
The walls and ceiling of the door between La Salle Renaissance and La Salle Europe.
La Salle Europe
The first gambling lounge was built in 1865 and in 1878 it was transformed by Charles Geurnier to the Salle Mauresque. It was again completely rebuilt in 1898 by Henri Schmit. The current name was assigned after the 1968 restoration and it now houses American type machines. This magnificent room is lit by 8 Bohemian Crystal chandeliers, weighing about 350 lbs each.
La Salle Europe, the 2nd gambling room in the Casino.
The room contains the following paintings, which were completed in 1898:
- “Harvesting Oranges” and “Sea Outing” frescoes by Paul Steck
- “Ascension of the Alps” and “Walk along the Seafront” by Felix-Hippolyte Lucas
- “Autumn” and “Spring” by Georges Picard
- “Battle of the Flowers” and “On the Terraces” by Pierre Ribera
The allegorical bas relief sculptures that decorate the ceiling pendants are by Paul Larche and the woven rug dates from early 20th century. The extensive gilding is gold leaf and the Bull’s eyes are early observation ports where staff could observe the gambling room.
The La Salle Europe’s domed ceiling with 8 fabulous chandeliers.
Blue Train Dining Room
Located off the La Salle Europe, to the left, the restaurant was opened in 1988 and is a reproduction of a dining room on the wagon-lits during the Belle Epoque period, with the smallest of details incorporated.
Page # 2 of the menu. If you intend to eat here, bring tons of money.
After the La Salle Europe, the next room is La Salle des Ameriques.
La Salle des Ameriques
Previous called the Garnier Gambling Lounge, this room was built by Charles Garnier and opened in 1881. Transformed and renovated in 1969 by the decorator Andre Levasseur, it was renamed to the current La Salle des Ameriques, in consideration of the American games operating within the room – Craps and Blackjack.
Black Jack tables in La Salles des Ameriques
This room also contains the cashier’s station.
Station of Roulette Tables at one end of the La Salle des Ameriques
La Salle Blanche
This is the final room we visited and is located across the rear of the Casino, backing onto the patio. Originally designed by Schmit in 1903 as a parlour, it was last restored in 2011. This is now the heart of the Casino with a Lounge Bar and live music at the weekends, in addition to gambling tables.
One end of the La Salle Blanche.
Different type of Roulette tables.
American style gambling tables at the opposite end of La Salle Blanche.
La Salle Blanche Bar.
The Monte Carlo Casino oozes class from the second you walk through the outer doors and into the foyer and the Atrium. This is nothing like the plastic versions in Las Vegas and throughout Canada and the U.S. where they have no direct sunlight and stink of stale smoke. Many of the rooms in the Monte Carlo abound with direct sunlight and the entire building is spotless and smells fresh as a daisy. Gambling does not commence until 14:00, so the Casino was not in operation. Fortunately, when not operating, photographs are permitted inside the rooms. After 14:00 no cameras are permitted.
All information, as provided by the information leaflet issued by the Casino.