Travel Guide: Monaco
Season 8 of the European Poker Tour exceeded all expectations over the past year and will culminate later this month with the PokerStars and Monte-Carlo Casino's EPT Grand Final in Monte Carlo, Monaco. This marks the event's return to Monte Carlo after being hosted in Madrid, Spain last season, which saw Venezuelan Ivan Freitez conquer a 686-player field to capture a €1,500,000 first-place prize.
This year's Grand Final will feature 37 different events, including the second annual Champion of Champions Freeroll on May 1. If you recall, last year's freeroll brought together 50 past EPT champions who competed for €50,000 in future EPT buy-ins, including Jason Mercier and Galen Hall, who finished as the winner and runner-up respectively. This year even more champions are expect to compete for €100,000 worth of EPT buy-ins.
While that tournament will be exciting, the real attraction is the €10,600 Main Event, a tournament that has made instant super stars out of past winners like Rob Hollink, Jeff Williams, Gavin Griffin, Glen Chorny, Pieter De Korver, Nicolas Chuity and of course Freitez.
The big question is, who'll add their name to the list?
For a look at the entire EPT Monte Carlo schedule, visit //www.europeanpokertour.com/tournaments/grandfinal/
Time: Central European Time (CET)
Calling code: +377
Language: French (official), English, Italian
Climate: Mediterranean: warm, dry summer & mild, rainy winters
Population (2011 estimate): 35,986
Voltage: 220 volts.
Monte Carlo Bay Hotel & Resort
40 Avenue Princess Grace
Monte Carlo 98000
Tel. : +377 98 06 25 25
Fax: +377 98 06 26 26
According to the EPT website:
"The Mediterranean Principality of Monaco is surrounded by France but is actually an independent country. Monaco is the second-smallest country in the world, covering only two square miles and has been ruled for more than 700 years by the Grimaldi family. Its present ruler Prince Albert took over the throne in 2005 after the death of his father Prince Rainier. Prince Albert's mother was the glamorous American film star Grace Kelly who died in a car accident in 1982. Monaco is the home of the famous Grand Prix motor race, and has been synonymous with glamour, elegance - and gambling - since the 1800s."
Getting There & Around
If you're EPT Grand Finale bound and coming from afar, you're more than likely to fly into the Nice Côte d'Azur International Airport, which is located 15 miles from Monaco. That's the nearest airport and there are plenty of flights to and from Nice to choose from.
Once there, you'll have plenty of options to chose from to traverse the 15 miles to your destination. The most fun would no doubt be to catch a helicopter, which departs the Nice Airport every 20 minutes. It only takes seven minutes, but the view makes it well worth it. What's more, the heliport has a shuttle service that connects passengers to various hotels.
If you'd prefer to keep your feet on the ground, there are regular bus connections from Terminals 1 and 2 of the Nice Airport every hour between 9am-9pm, which takes about 45 minutes. If you want to save a little time, you can also take a taxi, which takes about 35 minutes and cost an average of €90.
You may also opt to come to Monaco by train, which is convenient as all international trains stop at the Monte-Carlo Station located at Avenue Prince Pierre. Finally, if you're coming by automobile, you'll either drive from France, in which case you'll want to take the "56 Monaco" exit, or from Italy, where "Monaco-Roquebrune" will be your exit.
Where to Stay
If you won your package on PokerStars, you'll receive an email with your accommodation arrangements. If not, EPT Hotels is here to help you out. There you will find information on hotels throughout Monaco, such as the Riviera Marriott Hotel La Porte de Monaco, which is just 2.5 km from the venue and has a free shuttle bus. In addition, there is a gym, outdoor swimming pool, room service and free Internet WiFi in all public areas.
You'll also find information on Le Meridien Beach Plaza, Fairmont Monte Carlo, Novotel Monte Carlo, Adagio Monaco Palais Josephine, Port Palace, Monte-Carlo Bay Hotel & Resort, Hermitage and Hotel de Paris. Needless to say, there is no shortage of luxurious options.
Out and About
Since 1955, the streets of Monaco have played host to the Formula One Monaco Grand Prix, one of the most famous competitions in the world. Unfortunately this year's race, which takes place from May 24-27, doesn't quite coincide with the EPT Grand Final, though having two premiere events at the same time might be a little too much.
Nonetheless, there is still plenty to do in Monte Carlo. Obviously there is the Monte Carlo Casino, which tends to be the number one recommended experience in the city. As pleasingvacations.com says, "Charles Garnier designed the magnificent gold and marble atrium in this famous casino, which was built in 1863. Overlooking the Mediterranean, the Monte Carlo Casino also includes an opera and ballet house called the Grand Théâtre de Monte Carlo, and is the headquarters of the Ballets de Monte Carlo."
Pleasingvacations.com also put together a convenient must-do list in Monte Carlo, which looks like this:
1. Grand Casino
2. Café de Paris
3. Old Town
4. Metropole Shopping Centre
5. Monaco Cathedral
6. Prince's Palace
7. Monte-Carlo Thermes Marins
8. The Grimaldi Forum
9. Stade Louis II
10. The Grand Prix Racing Route
If you really want to experience Monte Carlo, you need some glitz and glamour, and there is no better place to get that than enjoying the nightlife. The bar at the Columbus Monaco, one of the city's classiest hotels, is very enjoyable and more laid back than most hot spots. There you'll be able to order food, enjoy a drink on the terrace and even catch a boat to nearby Mala Beach.
Another good option is Zebra Square, which is on the top floor of Grimaldi Forum and features a breath-taking panoramic view of the harbor. Plus, it's the place you're most likely to run into celebrities and models.
The other recommended club is The Blue Gin, which is part of the Monaco Bay Resort. It's upscale and caters to the wealthy, meaning it's a great place to take all your tournament winnings!
Of course you don't want to forget about the Monte Carlo Casino itself; after all, it is the most recommended destination. There you will find plenty of gaming options to compliment poker including European & English roulette, Thirty and Forty, Punto Banco, Blackjack, Craps, Three card Poker, Ultimate Texas Hold'em, War and many more.
For more information on Monte Carlo, we recommend you check out //www.visitmonaco.com/en. You could also watch the 2011 film Monte Carlo starring Selena Gomez, but we're guessing that's not an appealing option. Also, don't forget to check out the PokerStars Blog at 12:00 CET on Wednesday, April 25 as our bloggers will be on hand to provide you all the updates from the EPT Grand Final.