It’s impossible to overstate the influence of the majestic Hotel de Paris in Monte Carlo, or the culinary influence of the Le Louis XV-Alain Ducasse restaurant within it. In 1987 Prince Rainier II of Monaco charged chef Alain Ducasse with opening a restaurant in the iconic hotel. The result was a triumph: less than three years after opening, the restaurant was the first hotel restaurant in the world to be awarded 3 Michelin stars, and has not lost a single one at any point in the intervening years.
The opulence of the décor beggars belief; ornate high vaulted ceilings drip with chandeliers and gold trim, frescoes of cherubs and royal portraits line the walls among giant vases of flowers and candelabras. It is often compared in magnificence to the Palace of Versailles; you even eat off golden chargers with golden cutlery. The large French doors leading out to the terrace are dressed in light silk sashes, you can wander out there to enjoy a champagne or cigar between courses and marvel at the glittering Mediterranean stretched out below.
The menu is surprisingly simple given the intense visual luxury all around, but it is no less beautiful for it - and it is extremely difficult to find fault. Those of us who enjoy pushing the culinary boundaries could perhaps accuse the food of being a touch unexciting, but it is magnificently executed, and its sense of perfect technique and tradition somehow fits perfectly with this setting that harkens back to an age of luxury long past. If you have ever dreamed of dining in a palace, come to this place. It will cost you, but then so does fixing a dent in your car.
The Joel Robuchon Monte Carlo at Hôtel Métropole is another restaurant that certainly deserves its Michelin stars, although this time (quelle horreur) there’s only two. This sumptuous restaurant is owned by chef Joel Robuchon, who has been awarded a staggering 26 Michelin stars, more than any other chef in the world. Under Robuchon’s direction, the executive chef Christophe Cussac executes modern French food with stunning skill and imagination. Fresh, seasonal produce is the philosophy, all prepared in an open kitchen where guests can see these megastar chefs at work. While the prices are not as eye-watering as Louis XV (you can even get a lunch menu for 55 euro) it’s still far from cheap - you will normally expect to pay into the hundreds of euros.
A lovely lunchtime treat awaits you at Elsa, a chic beach club restaurant with a Michelin star. Fresh, light, and 100% organic produce makes up the exquisite menu designed by rising chef Paolo Sari, based on the cuisine of the French and Italian Rivieras. Start with something light - delicate artichoke carpaccio or raw red prawns, moving onto ‘gold’ risotto, wild citrus sea bass or juicy roast suckling pig with caramelised shallots - all organic, bien sur. This restaurant is part of the Monte Carlo Beach Hotel, so why not get a lounger by the pool and make a day of it, enjoying the elegant yet relaxed vibe. Meals range from 30-65 euro, there are also wonderful tasting menus available.
Dine up high with a spectacular view of the port and the famous rock at Le Vistamar, at the decadent Hotel Hermitage. Take a table on the terrace at lunchtime and indulge in the gourmet seafood menu that earned chef Joel Garault a Michelin star. This restaurant excels at sophisticated seafood dishes like lobster with truffle jus, bacon and leek, or their famous bouillabaisse serves over three courses; there’s also a small selection of sensational meat dishes. To finish, you will be hard pressed to resist one of their signature hot dessert soufflés. You can get a menu at lunchtime for between 44 and 110 euro, while a la carte mains fall in the 50-65 euro range.