By: Duncan Quinn
The art of Monégasque living.
I am in Monte-Carlo, an old and dear friend of a venue, pondering the art of life. Perched on my terrace at the Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo, I’m looking down upon what some might say is the most famous casino in the world. Originally opened in 1858 as “Les Speluges,” by 1863 the Grimaldi family set up a new company to run it, Société des Bains de Mers et du Cercle des Étrangers, in partnership with a French stock-trader-come-casino-whizz named François Blanc, who had taken Europe’s gaming scene by storm. Monsieur Blanc created the infrastructure for the aristocracy and idle rich to travel to Monaco, the parties and balls to entice them, and the gaming rooms to amuse them. As part of his genius plan to have every gambler of note make pilgrimage to the green baize of his Chemin-de-Fer baccarat, blackjack, and other gaming tables, he also changed the name of the area where the casino sits to honor his business partner and co-founder of SBM: Prince Charles Grimaldi. And thus, the casino became the Casino de Monte-Carlo.
As I prepared for an evening in the company of beautiful people, I laid out my understated Audemars Piguet Royal Oak on the dresser, next to the Vesper Martini I had requested. After a quick sip, I pondered the cufflink array before me, from the sublimely simple to the outlandishly ridiculous. With the devil of perception being in the details, I had to carefully consider the message I was sending. Having decided on the beautifully cut, one-button, single-breasted navy herringbone suit with the high-peaked lapels, I opted for a classic midnight blue, woven silk dobby tie and matching socks with my simple 120s 2-ply white cotton shirt. The cufflinks would be a secret nod to Michael Caine’s character Jack Carter in the classic late 1960’s film noir, Get Carter.
We’re being swaddled in an ultimate level of service which apprehends every need from afar, but the art of luxury is the art of living. So, I always try to bear in mind the wise words of the Irish wag Oscar Wilde: “[Cynics] know the price of everything and the value of nothing…”
With that thought in mind, we head to the sweet embrace of Michelin-starred chef Yannick Alleno for dinner at the nearby Hôtel Hermitage. On a beautifully designed terrace overlooking the port, surrounded by landscaped plants and canopies, I am greeted by a snappily dressed maître d’, ready to escort me to my appointed seat. I take in the lighting, scents, and scene around me as a coup of the finest Krug Champagne alights in my palm as if by magic; as well as the plethora of supercars clocked on the brief walk here in the failing sunlight, which kisses the water and the superyachts in the port in a way only the Côte d’Azur can.