Photo: Julie Zeveloff/Business Insider
Monaco, the tiny country with the most millionaires-per-capita, is a playground for high rollers.It’s centered around the famed Monte Carlo Casino, which sits at the centre of town and is surrounded by high-end boutiques: Cartier, Hermès, Valentino.
Below the casino sits the Port de Monaco, which is absolutely stuffed with boats, from fishing vessels to megayachts. We recently spent an afternoon wandering the harbor and were both impressed and surprised by what we saw.
The tiny principality of Monaco is a haven for high-rollers and tourists. The plush Monte Carlo Casino, with its private rooms and jackets-for-men policy, is one major draw.
Another major draw is the Port de Monaco, one of two ports in the country. It's situated immediately behind the casino, about a 10-minute walk downhill.
Set against the opulent architecture of downtown Monte Carlo and the mountains, it's a picturesque place, for the most part. But we'll get to that.
Cruising yachts were stuffed in like sardines. We saw crew members scrubbing the decks and doing other maintenance jobs.
For the most part, the cruising yachts were empty. Their owners were probably up at the casino or le Cafe de Paris, Monaco's prime people-watching spot.
Monaco may be a haven for millionaires, but not every boat docked in its port was a megayacht. We spotted some simple fishing boats.
There were actually a whole bunch of (relatively) modest vessels. But that's not what we came here to see.
One of the biggest boats in the port was the megayacht Reborn. The 75-meter mansion on water costs $712,000 A WEEK to charter.
At 80 meters, Stargate was even longer than Reborn. She's rumoured to have been built for the Qatari royal family.
But Monaco isn't just for the boating set—it's also a tourist trap. The day we were there, a Carnival cruise ship dwarfed most of the megayachts in the port.
Of course, all those tourists need something to do (how many can really afford the hefty minimums at the casino?). We were a little surprised to see a giant aquatic centre in the middle of the harbor.
There were lots of other touristy gimmicks clogging the port as well. In a nod to Monaco's racing history, there was a go-kart course.
The bouncy castles and temporary tattoo booths were a strange juxtaposition to the palace of Monaco, high above the port (top left)/
There are some businesses in the harbor as well. The famed Yacht Club de Monaco is here—officially, it oversees the sport of sailing in the principality.
UBS has a post there too, with offices mere feet from the water. Tons of banks have offices in Monaco, a known tax haven. But UBS was the only one we saw down here.
Famed Monaco hangout Stars'n'Bars is also right on the port. The American-themed bar is filled with arcade games and one of the only casual hangouts in Monaco.
As we headed out of the harbor we spotted what might have been the coolest vessel of all—a jet black speedboat racing towards the port. Like the rest of Monaco, it was straight out of a James Bond movie.
One last glimpse of the harbor at night. It was pretty peaceful. Perhaps the yacht parties don't get started til after midnight.
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