Postcard from Monte Carlo

by Loria Stern

Stepping onto the iconic red-clay courts of the Monte Carlo Country Club, it’s hard not to be struck by the sheer beauty of the surroundings: The sparkling Mediterranean Sea glistening in the distance, and the red-clay courts fenced by stone masonry dating back to the early 1900s.

The Monte Carlo Country Club has a rich history starting when the club’s founders, a group of British expatriates and tennis aficionados, sought to create a haven for tennis enthusiasts on the French Riviera. Starting in 1897 with the inaugural Monte Carlo Masters, the club has become a premier destination on the tennis circuit for high-profile tournaments and among the glitziest backdrops for drop ins and visitors from around the globe.

As a first-time visitor to this event, I was excited to experience the thrill of world-class tennis in one of the most picturesque settings imaginable, and I vowed to return one day to play on the courts myself—either as a visitor or as a participant in the ultra-exclusive media tournament the club hosts each year alongside the Masters 1000 tournament. Until that day arrives, I’m sharing my tips for first-time attendees to help visitors navigate this bucket-list event.

The correspondent herself on the world’s toughest assignment.

All visitors to the tournament are greeted by stunning roads lined with cobblestone fences and Art Nouveau metal gates. To avoid the crowds, I recommend entering and exiting through Entrance 4, which offers a more scenic route from the Monte Carlo Beach Club and the exclusive Le Mer club. The scent of jasmine along this route in the evening is intoxicating.
When it comes to accommodation in Monte Carlo, there are several options to choose from. I stayed at Le Méridien, which offered basic but comfortable rooms, a convenient walking distance to the tournament, and a reasonably priced Belgian brasserie on site. The hotel also features a handful of swimming pools, right on the sea, as well as a gym, which did not meet my expectations.

Another option is the Monte Carlo Bay Hotel, which has a more luxurious feel, but comes with a higher price tag. This is where most of the players stay, so you may even spot a few familiar faces at dinner. For a truly splurge-worthy experience, choose either the Hermitage—a beautiful, French-style hotel that offers a more upscale atmosphere—or the Cap-Eden-Roc. Both of these hotels boast Michelin-starred restaurants on site.

In terms of food, be prepared for typical tournament prices, which can be double what you’d pay elsewhere. To save some money, I recommend stocking up on snacks from the Marché market or the patisserie across the street, which offers fresh options at a fraction of the cost.

Dressing for the tournament is a whole experience in itself and, of course, the Monegasque do it best. Men: don a sports jacket and a cloth napkin, and pair it with tennis shoes or walking sandals like Birkenstocks. Women: bring your straw hats and jewels, and dress in relaxed formal attire. And don’t forget sunglasses and sunscreen; the sun can be intense, especially in the afternoon. If you stay all day, bring layers, because it gets chilly at night.

As I left the tournament on my final day, I couldn’t help but feel grateful. From the stunning scenery to the excitement of the matches, this tournament is truly a memorable experience. Making my way back to my hotel, I inhaled the atmosphere of glamour and sophistication that only the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters Tennis Tournament can provide. Très bien!