There’s some irony to associating ‘eco-friendly’ with Monaco, which is commonly associated with hedonism and excess as much as the iconic Grand Prix. By popular choice of helicopter or yacht arrival, one is transported to the boutique-lined, casino-fuelled glitz and glamour of this micro-state on the French Riviera. However, many here are making strides towards sustainability and proving that ‘green’ can be glamorous.
Since 2006, the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation has been dedicated to the protection of the environment and the promotion of sustainable development. The reigning monarch’s foundation supports public and private organisation initiatives in the fields of research, technological innovation and social awareness practices.
Now, Monaco is not only home to the original Formula One motor race in Monte-Carlo, but the ePrix, too – a biennial automobile race of the Formula E championship (that is, a race featuring only electric-powered cars). Meanwhile, luxury hotels, restaurants and independent businesses are contributing to the protection of the environment in various ways.
To enjoy a greener side of the good life, follow Bazaar’s guide to modern Monaco.
The elegant Hotel Metropole Monte-Carlo is the only independently owned luxury hotel in Monaco, and prides itself on being ‘a respectful luxury destination’. This Belle-Époque style hotel boasts two Michelin-starred restaurants, a Givenchy spa (one of only three worldwide), a rooftop pool imagined and designed by Karl Lagerfeld, and excellent vantage points to enjoy the live motorsports – should you visit during event times.
The hotel’s environmental policy, ‘Green Attitude’, is discreet to the discerning luxury traveller, but important actions supported by a motivated ‘Green Committee’ make it significant.
Behind the scenes, the hotel is working to continuously improve the energy performance of the hotel and better control waste, and is involved in various environmental, humanitarian and charity actions.
Guests will notice that the hotel has removed plastic straws from beverages (some cocktails will keep straws made of fully biodegradable PLA); there is a fully electric car and a hybrid BMW series 7 available for transportation; and an informative request in-room to ‘Act Green’ during your stay.
The Hotel Metropole restaurants are committed to serving seasonal, local produce, and the late Michelin-starred ‘chef of the century’ Joël Robuchon designed a fully vegetarian menu (with vegan and gluten free creations) in collaboration with Dr Nadia Volf. A feast for all the senses, this gastronomic delight demonstrates that the best-tasting food can also be the best for you and for the planet.
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Do try to tear yourself away from the Hotel Metropole for some equally exceptional experiences elsewhere.
At the seaside Monte-Carlo Beach hotel, rich in nostalgic glamour, you’ll find Elsa; the first all-organic restaurant to receive a Michelin star. Helmed by visionary chef Paolo Sari – who is passionate about healthy, organic ingredients – the menu’s impeccable ingredients are sourced from farms and fishermen in the surrounding areas.
Choose from the Market, Tasting or Inspiration Menu with (all organic) wine pairing recommended by the sommelier while enjoying dramatic views of the Côte d’Azur. You’ll cherish every mouthful.
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For a somewhat lighter bite, join locals and tourists alike at Mada One, a new brasserie concept at One Monte-Carlo (a luxury living complex in the heart of Monaco). The unique restaurant offers natural and healthy ‘on-the-go gastronomy’ from innovative chef Marcel Ravin. Think creative, modern meals allowing you to dial the indulgence up or down.
Another memorable meal is to be had at Ravin’s Michelin-starred Blue Bay restaurant at the Monte-Carlo Bay hotel and resort, where he fuses flavours from the Mediterranean and his native Caribbean. It’s here where you’ll find an excellent example of Monaco’s impressive urban agriculture initiative.
Unexpectedly positioned on top of the casino roof at Monte-Carlo Bay lies one of Terre de Monaco’s garden plots growing vegetables, fruits, herbs and edible flowers, which feed the kitchen. The company (which also partners with Hotel Metropole and other hotels) uses techniques based on intensive bio-agriculture and permaculture.
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The Terre de Monaco team propose personalised collaborations with restaurant chefs to design bespoke gardens to their needs and wishes. The results mean that more and more short circuit seasonal produce – minimally packaged (if at all) – makes its way to visitors’ plates.
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Sorry Aperol, but here it’s all about Le Monaco Spritz made with L’Orangerie, the first premium orange liqueur from Monaco.
Hand-crafted at Monaco’s only distillery, L’Orangerie – with its luxury retro branding positioning it as the perfect chic souvenir – is created from the boulevard’s bitter orange tree fruit that would otherwise go to waste. Using traditional artisan methods, the oranges are hand-picked, washed and individually peeled before being infused to create limited quantities of liqueur. A tasting at the atelier is highly recommended, as is ordering it at select bars in the principality.
If beer is your tipple, head to Monte-Carlo’s only micro-brewery Brasserie de Monaco. Enjoying pole position on the harbour, this laidback bar (which was originally founded in 1905) brews four artisanal beers. Ensure you sample them with the traditional bar snacks: Monaco speciality barbajuan, which are beautiful Swiss chard and ricotta pastries; and Socca, savoury chickpea flour flatbreads cooked in a pizza oven.
Nearby Stars ‘n’ Bars is another relaxed spot, with stellar views of the port from its rooftop, to enjoy a drink or meal as an alternative to all the fine dining. In support of the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation it has launched a dynamic community ‘eco-hub’ with activities to boost wellbeing and to learn about our planet. Leveraging its premium location, it hosts diverse public and private events promoting sustainability. In addition, the bar has doubled its efforts in recent years to reduce its ‘carbon foodprint’ (the environmental cost of rearing, farming, processing, transporting, storing, cooking and disposing of the food it serves). It’s certainly more than a sports bar.
With an international reputation, Monaco’s Oceanografic Museum makes for an inspiring visit. While you’ll be wowed by the wonderfully rich aquarium, it also schools of the dangers facing the marine world and serves as a reminder that conservation is classless: it is – of course – important for all to understand.
Known as ‘the temple of the sea’, given its imposing shoreside positioning, carved into a cliff face, the museum houses more than 6,000 specimens and hosts regular exhibitions, including a new permanent space dedicated to the vulnerable sea turtles.
If you fancy an outdoor stroll, visit the Princess Grace Rose Garden. Opened in 1984 by Prince Rainier III in memory of his wife Princess Grace (aka Hollywood actress Grace Kelly), the garden, featuring more than 315 varieties of rosebush, retains a Mediterranean character through the planting of hundred-year-old olive trees.
The La Condamine Market, open daily, also makes for a pleasant stop-off. The vibrant stalls offer fresh organic produce, including tempting Monegasque specialities, colourful flowers and artisanal crafts. At this small but thriving market locals gather, and tourists bag a bargain.
Those wishing to stay active and maintain some balance among the indulgence will find a haven at Le Tigre Monte-Carlo. With a spectacular setting at the Monte-Carlo Beach hotel, it’s positioned both seaside and poolside, with yoga classes taking place outdoors on the hotel’s pontoon or dock. In addition to yoga, Le Tigre runs a variety of gentle and dynamic disciplines (in group or private classes), including meditation and Pilates. There are also treatments, including body and facial massage therapies, a hammam for physical and mental relaxation, plus a range of beauty treatments. Given the hotel’s Green Globe certification, which recognises its commitment to sustainable development, the spa too runs with green principles in mind
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