David is having a right royal Getaway as he tries his luck with the rich and the famous in sparkling Monte Carlo.
The Principality of Monaco is just 1.9 square kilometres, making it second only to the Vatican as the smallest independent state in Europe. Its population of around 30,000 lives in four districts Monaco-Ville, which is on a rocky promontory dominating the coast, la Condamine, Fontvieille and Monte Carlo.
The tax-free haven has the added benefits of sublime climate and natural beauty. Its residents have the highest per capita income in the world and they own more sports cars than anyone else in the world.
The area which is Monaco has been inhabited since the Stone Age and the first serious building was undertaken by the Ligurians, a Ghibelline Genovese dynasty, who ruled Monaco in the 13th century.
In 1297 the first of the Grimaldis, François, literally got under the Ghibellines' guard and claimed 700 years of easy living for his heirs.
King Charles VIII of France recognised Monaco's independence in 1489, and despite Monaco's brief flirtation with Spain between 1524 and 1641, France and Monaco remained close until 1793, when the Revolutionary regime annexed Monaco. An 1861 treaty reinstated Monaco's independence and any tension has been restricted to tax laws. Monaco refuses to tax French residents or French companies with Monaco headquarters.
Prince Rainier III acceded to the throne in 1949 and his fairytale marriage to film star Grace Kelly produced Prince Albert, heir to the throne, and two beautiful princesses. Despite the glamour, not without its dollops of tragedy, Prince Rainier has a wide range of executive powers making him much more than just a figurehead.
The Palais du Prince has been around since the 13th century. If the flag is flying from the top of its tower, the prince is at home. As each Grimaldi has found it necessary to leave their mark, the result is it is not one of Europe's most elegant castles. There are 15 rooms, including the Throne Room, open to the public at various times, and the changing of the guard starts just before noon each day.
The prince opened a showcase of his private collection of more than 100 exquisitely restored vintage cars, including the 1956 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud used on his wedding day. It was a gift from Monaco shopkeepers.
Monaco Cathedral was built in 1875 using white stone from La Turbie. It is on the site of a 13th century church dedicated to St Nicolas, and is houses the modest tombstone of Princess Grace of Monaco.
The Jardin Exotique has 7000 varieties of cacti and succulents, and if that doesn't interest you, the views from the garden surely will. Entry to the garden also gives entry to a cave complex, packed full of stalagmites and stalactites, as well as the Musée d'Anthropologie Préhistorique which tells the history of humanity through archaeological finds in the area.
With all its history and culture, gambling and glitz, there's no doubt that Monaco's main claim to fame is the annual Grand Prix which takes of the streets of the principality each May. Every driver dreams of winning the glamour race. The barrier-lined circuit leaves absolutely no margin for error and demands more concentration than any other Formula 1 circuit.
They begin sending out information in November, so for details you should contact the Automobile Club of Monaco then. Many residents rent out their terraces for the event and advertise in the International Herald Tribune and the Nice Monaco Matin newspapers.
The Monte Carlo Grand Hotel really deserves its name. Like an elegant ship anchored to the shores of the principality, it is close to the Grand Opera House, exclusive boutiques and sits on a hairpin curve of the Formula 1 circuit.
Everything about the hotel is elegant and accommodation ranges from VIP, Corner, Riviera and Junior Suites to Luxury, Superior and Standard rooms offering a variety of water, city and garden views.
You can enjoy Mediterranean cuisine in Le Pistou, South-American in L'Argentin or dine in the brasserie, Le Café de la Mer. There is a delightful patisserie Café Viennois with a tempting range of things sweet and beverages, and snacks are served in the charming Lobby Bar. Wherever you are, in your own accommodation or the hotel's public areas, you are always aware of the genteel surroundings.
It is recommended that travellers see their doctor at least six weeks prior to departure. Prior to travel, travellers should be 'in date' with vaccinations listed on the Australian Immunisation Schedule, as well as vaccinations for hepatitis A, hepatitis B, tetanus and typhoid fever. Depending on the time of year of travel and exact destination, other health precautions and preventions are recommended and best discussed with your doctor.