Sunday 22 April 2012

Monte Carlo - Monaco

The famous Monte Carlo Grand Casino was the inspiration for Ian Fleming when writing the James Bond novel Casino Royale. Another Bond film, GoldenEye, was also filmed here.

This is definitely one for Formula One fans! The millionaire's playground that is Monte Carlo is located in the principality of Monaco on the C'ote d'Azur. With all that said, I am not too sure how I ended up here...

Not somewhere you will find any bargains. One word of advice, definitely bring your wallet. No seriously, bring it!

Having watched countless Monaco Grand Prixs over the years, there was no way I was coming here and not running the race track, around the Grand Fairmont Hotel hairpin and through the famous tunnel. 

Our hotel was near Place des Moulins to the north east so I immediately head west along Boulevard du Marechal Leclerc and then south on Boulevard Princesse Charlotte to Boulevard des Moulins.

Now I am directly behind Casino Square which is a beautiful setting on any day or night.  I continued through the square with the Casino itself now on my left hand side as the route carries on south towards the harbour as I pick up the race track travelling east along Avenue des Spelugues.

1.9km to this point - Now the fun starts!

The Fairmont Hairpin, F1s slowest corner

Resisting the huge temptation to make racing car noises as I sweep down the hill and enter the famous Fairmont Hairpin, the slowest corner in F1 racing, the road then descends around a double right hander (Portier for F1 fans) where Ayrton Senna once crashed while leading the grand prix.

From here, you will nwo be staring straight at the entrance of the infamous tunnel which travels underneath the Hotel. During the race, the F1 cars will travel through here at around 260km (160mph) in almost darkness. I had the darkness part okay, but I was travelling fractionally slower than the drivers.

The iconc tunnel
After roaring through the tunnel at a frightening 10mph, the stunning harbour and the brightness of the daylight now greet you as you travel west along Louis II Boulevard adjacent to the water's edge.

You are now well and truly on the race track and it is simply a case of following along it as it sweeps left (south west) mirroring the shape of the harbour as you travel through through the part of the track known as the swimming pool.
The harbour in Monte Carlo is home to some of the world's most glamorous and indulgent yachts
A sharp right hand turn brings you out on Albert I Boulevard which acts as the home straight. Come race day is lined with royalty and A-list celebrities alike and the road has the markings of the race start which really gives you an idea what it must be like to be one of the drivers waiting for the green light.

Through the first corner and now charging up the hill solely on adrenaline at this point, like a kid playing on a playstation, I could not resist the temptation to complete one more lap and a full circuit of the 3.36km track, so I followed D'Ostende Avenue east, left and then right past the Casino to Avenue des Spelugues which is where I had picked up the track earlier in the run.

The lap record of 1 minute 14 seconds is held by Michael Schumacher in his Ferrari. I was just a shade slower than that unfotunately, but I would challenge anyone to find a better 12 minute run than this!

At the end of the lap, I exited the track at the casino square and simply followed my earlier route past the grand gardens that stand in front of it back to my hotel.
Monte Carlo Country Club, home of the Rolex Monte Carlo Tennis Masters event
Overall the route from door to door is around 10km, so certainly not the longest of my guides but without doubt one of the most iconic and special runs I have experienced.

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Start - Hotel Boeril, Boulevard du Marechal Leclerc
Journey - West along Boulevard du Marechal Leclerc then south on Boulevards Princesse Charlotte and des Moulins. Pick up race track on Casino track, complete remainder of lap and then one full circuit. Exit at Casino and follow earlier route back to Hotel.
Finish - Hotel Boeril
My future mode of transport. (The scooter, not the yacht with helicopter!)

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