From the glistening snow-covered trees in the centre of Monte Carlo’s Casino Square, to the Christmas market down by the marina, I can’t think of anywhere in Europe which celebrates Christmas more gloriously than Monaco.
The “Monaco Christmas” is glamorous mix of fur coats designer handbags and knee-length boots. Add in around 20 Santa’s including a sophisticated one in the Metropole Shopping Centre, a band of Santa’s at the Christmas market, and finally Santa doing a circuit of Casino Square on Christmas Eve and you can’t fail to feel festive and frivolous.
I love a Monaco Christmas! Firstly most of the principality is musically enhanced. There are Christmas tunes tinkling out of speakers hidden away in tropical bushes along all the main streets, when you shop, stroll or simply sit out sipping a coffee, you’ll be doing so to jolly Christmas songs from Michael Buble and the warbles of Mariah Carey… I promise that’s not as irritating as it sounds.
Secondly the decorations are amongst the best I’ve seen. Prince Albert clearly splurges at this time of year and no expense has been spared when preparing the thousands of snow laden real Christmas trees that decorate the square and the surrounding streets and gardens. Screw your eyes up, ignore the clear blue skies and you could imagine you are in a Gstaad style snowy resort. The Island of pines in the centre of Casino Square make up the centrepiece of the display. By day you look upon a snow encrusted wonderland, by night the trees start to sparkle with an impressive light show that this year changes them from red to white to red, (just like the Grimaldi flag), whilst tasteful Christmas tunes stream from the speakers placed all around the centrepiece. It’s not just the humans who enjoy the show – the local ducks appear to have taken up temporary residence under some of the pines. Perhaps the lighting means it’s warmer than their nearby duck pond, perhaps they just like Mariah Carey. If you keep an eye out you can see them waddling between the Ferrari’s and Porsches.
Thirdly the Metropole Shopping centre is always a delight, offering a place to go if the weather clouds over. It’s particularly fun at Christmas and is strewn with sophisticated gold baubles and streamers. Plus there are cute little snow scenes dotted around. Every year these scenes differ, last year it was forest gnomes that chopped wood, this year, squirrels skating and building snowmen. Wander between designer shops, down to Fnac in the basement, finish by getting your photo taken with Santa. Delightful!
Finally the Christmas market down by the main marina next to the ice rink is a highlight. In addition to loads of stalls selling Christmas gifts and a million types of crepe and sausage, there are Santa bands, puppet shows and rides for young delighted kids.
With all that, even though the sun will probably be out, you wont be able to resist getting into the joyous, stylish Christmas festivities in Monaco – no mice pie or Brussels sprouts required!
See Monte Carlo’s best Christmas trees here!
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