Blog: Simon WarburtonFerraris and gin palaces

Simon Warburton | 21 June 2012

Everything about Monte Carlo you might think a cliché is pretty much true once you arrive.

I haven't been to this tiny principality perched between France and Italy for 20 odd years, but it really hasn't changed a bit.

In a sense, how could it? Just a measly 2km long, there is nowhere else to build except up and the vertiginous towers that cling to the cliff-edge look precarious enough already without adding any more.

I'm here for the 15th Automotive News Europe Congress where the great and the good of the industry have gathered in Monte Carlo's prestigious Fairmont Hotel and from where a gargantuan cruise liner has just departed, seemingly feet away from where the coffee break was being held.

Every other car seems to either a Ferrari or Bentley, replete with so much bling, you can't help staring in disbelief, particularly as everyone driving them seems to be considerably younger than I am.

We play spot the Formula 1 bits of circuit as familiar to us from the telly as anything, particularly the mind-boggling 170mph tunnel and look enviously at the various gin palaces bobbing in the harbour on the second-longest day's evening sun.

But I couldn't live here. Even if I had a Ferrari, it all appears to be about being seen rather than actually driving, while the staggering cost of basics has to be witnessed to be believed.

Having thought better of the EUR120 per person seven minute helicopter transfer from Nice to Monaco, we took a more modest taxi instead, whose animated driver gave a 100mph commentary the entire way on everything from Monegasque politics to the strength of the pound versus the Euro.

Last night - just before AN Europe's excellently organised dinner in the Salle des Etoiles - we decided to venture out for a sundowner, by the er, Casino.

Much in the manner of certain British newspapers of yore however, we rapidly made our excuses and left having seen the price of one beer on the menu that came in at - a cool EUR14. There doesn't seem to be much of a recession in Monaco.


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