Monte-Carlo – spectators’ experiences

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Rubens Barrichello, Honda, Monte-Carlo, 2006Tell us about your experiences of visiting the Monte-Carlo street circuit.

You may wish to include:

  • When you visited the track
  • Where you watched from
  • How easy it was to get to
  • How much of the track you could see
  • What support races there were
  • What you liked and didn’t like
  • How much it cost and whether it was good value

Please use the reply box below to leave your comments.

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339 comments on Monte-Carlo – spectators’ experiences

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  1. I have had a few experiences at Monaco. My first was at the Monaco Historique in 2000 where I was a photographer. As a snot-nosed 18 year old, the place blew me out of the water. As a photographer, I could get anywhere and my previous experiences working at race tracks in America were restrictive and uninspiring shots. Monaco was different.
    You could go everywhere around the track and even stand at the famous hairpin. It was a pure dream. In 2002, I worked at the Historics and stayed down the coast with a friend for the GP weekend. I scored to watch the race from on top of the ING Bank at the Hotel Mirabeau corner. DC almost died in a plane crash the week before then won in Monaco. Guts of steel that not even das Schu could take away. My friend Mat scalped some fairly cheap tickets to watch at the first turn where saw (and felt) a young Felipe Massa loose his brakes and shunt HARD into the armco.
    Monaco is a magical place and I have been to GPs around the globe and I would go back in a heartbeat. And no matter what people say, its negligable how much more expensive it is. Stay outside of Monaco, take the train, and bring your own food to the track. You’ll slick by for cheaper than you imagine.

  2. Pamela Duffy said on 10th July 2007, 16:18

    I have read with interest your comments. I am in a slight dilema. I would like to arrange for partners 50th Birthday for next year and not sure which package to go for – I know to stay in Nice but where is best place to be K Grandstand?
    I would appreciate a reply if possible, thanks.

  3. Firemarshall said on 25th July 2007, 12:36

    TO PAMELA DUFFY: grandstand K offers a great view of the harbor from the tunnel exit to the first “piscine” chicane. It’s one of the widest view of the circuit from a stand. I think I can help you, cause I live near Monaco, I work in Monaco and I am marshall at the Grand Prix. If you like, contact me at firemarshall@hotmail.it I’ll be glad to help you for your partner’s birthday

    • Araceli said on 8th March 2010, 0:49

      Hola pienso ir a monaco el 15 y 16 de mayo. Me gustaria me recomendaras un donde pueda ver las carreras. No muy caro soy de Mexico y recuerda que mi moneda esta por mucho abajo del euro. Por ahi he leido de un tal Cafe Paris no se que tan bueno sea la ubicacion y tampoco se si se necesite reservar.

      De antemano muchas gracias!!

      • F1_Gal said on 8th March 2010, 1:11

        Hola. Si usted no tiene mucho dinero el Café de París no es una buena idea. Es muy caro y de lujo. Los asientos son baratos Admisión General en la roca ( “Sector Rocher”). Para dormir hay un albergue en Cap d’Ail, una pequeña ciudad próxima a Mónaco, a poca distancia. O se puede acampar o dormir en otra ciudad, cerca de Mónaco y tomar el tren o el autobús a la ciudad.

  4. Jennifer said on 11th May 2008, 20:46

    Not sure if anyone will see this question in time but I am going to be in Paris for over a week surrounding the Monaco Gran Prix and thought about flying or taking a train down to watch qualifying. I would arrive in Nice at about 9 in the morning and leave Nice at 20 in the evening. Is this realistic? Can I get in and out of Monaco and actually see the cars in that time? I have heard the wait for taxis and trains is quite long in the days around the race.

    Thank you

  5. There is a bus from Nice airport to Monaco, leaves I think every half an hour and takes about 45 minutes. If you are going to watch the race that starts at 2pm and ends about 4pm you should be able to make it. But I would suggest to make the arrangements for transport out of Monaco earlier, the taxis are problem during the GP weekend.

  6. Gav said on 18th May 2008, 22:19

    A group of friends and I have tickets to the GP (Race Day) on stand E (chicane). I have a couple of questions…

    1) We’ll be arriving from Italy by train. From Monte Carlo station where do we head towards in order to catch the free shuttle across the harbour to the stand?
    2) What facilities are there around stand E, ie, toilets, bars and stalls?
    3) Are there any restrictions in terms of bringing your own beers into Monaco/the stands?

    Thanks

  7. Went to Monaco in 2006. And while it was awesome as an experience, there are a couple of things I’d do differently.

    For starters, due to the high ticket cost we elected to go general admin. Never again ! Mortgage the house if you have to & buy a grandstand seat. GA in Monaco is literally crouching in amongst the rocks and trees on the side of a cliff ! We could see about 50mtrs of the track from our vantage point, and although there was a giant screen much of it was obscured by trees. Also, once we had dug ourselves in, we couldn’t move or we would have lost our spot. There was prolly 5000 people crammed into a space for 200, so you couldn’t give up your hard won spot for anything. And we got there early !
    Since there was only one support race prior to the F1’s, it was a pretty boring six hours sitting there in the dirt……
    A friend went this year & sat at Stand K which had a great view of the cars coming out of the tunnel, plus over the bay. I’ll definitely sit there if I go again.

    We stayed in Nice – far cheaper – and caught the train in which only takes about 15 minutes (although there was about a twenty minute queue to get on said train). The station brings you right to the heart of Monaco & it is easy to walk anywhere on the track from there. You can bring in your own food & drink although we found the stuff trackside to be reasonable price & quality. Plus really good value merchandise in the street stalls as you came out of the train station. Who cares that it was not genuine !

    Getting home was not a problem – sure it was slow moving out of the track, but thats the case anywhere. And we didn’t have to wait for a train (they put on extra services).

    Great track, great experience. It has to be top of anyones GP wish list.

    • Andy Bennetts said on 7th April 2009, 9:04

      I have race day tickets for this year, but can you purchase seated tickets for practice and quali on the day – even if you’re not too fussy about which stand to go to.
      Do you know if there are any restrictions on still photography (not video which I believe is restricted).
      Many thanks

    • I did the same in 2008. Backpacking around meant I couldn’t afford 300-400 Euro for a grandstand ticket (AU$ > Euro exchange rate not real flash) so went for 70 Euro on the hill (beware of scalpers just metres away from the official ticket office selling the same for 80 euro). On top of those drawbacks it was raining a bit too. Crappy view of the race (but nice one of the whole place overall, go for a walk up there afterwards), not comfortable, didn’t really know what was going on in the race. Glad I did it but would never go on the hill again.

      After the race is over, you can walk around the track before its opened to cars again, recommended… the teams are loading up trucks outside the pits, go pose for a photo on the podium, check out the boats in the harbour (might even get invited to join one of the parties), watch a few Ferraris & Porsches race when they do open the road again,…

      Getting from Nice to Monaco & back was easy on the train, the special services for the race, the wait in the line to buy a ticket was longer than the rest of the journey (something common to French rail I was to discover)

    • Eyal said on 10th March 2010, 11:09

      Thanks for the information

      should we buy train tickets in advance ?

      Thanks

      • F1_Gal said on 10th March 2010, 17:10

        If you’re just talking about the local train service (commuting to and from Monaco from where you’re staying nearby) you do not need to purchase tickets in advance.

        • Eyal said on 10th March 2010, 18:23

          Hi Gal,

          Thanks again…

          I was talking about the train from Nice to Monaco. I understand that the lines to bug this ticket could be very long.

          Second and important question:
          Are the tickets on the race day are cheaper if I buy them on the track itself on the race day?

          I got tickets for the race day but I am thinking to buy the tickets for the qualification on the 15/5/10 and not pre order them.

          If yes what is the discount rate?

          Thanks,
          Eyal

          • F1_Gal said on 10th March 2010, 18:54

            Yes, on race day it is possible that the lines are long (especially post race). However, I stayed within walking distance so I do not have direct experience with the trains on race day in particular. I know that it is packed post race and even getting on a local bus is near impossible.

            If you are looking to avoid lines, I imagine that buying your ticket in advance is a good idea. You could probably do this at the train station upon arrival in Nice.

            Personally, I think the best idea is just to stick around Monaco after the race is over and wait for the crowd to die down! Soak it all in and enjoy the restaurants and street scene.

            As for buying race tickets for Saturday, I remember paying 70 euro on race day for a Rocher ticket and on the website for this year’s race the same ticket is listed at only ~50 euro. Based on that logic, I would buy a ticket now, especially if I wanted a grandstand as those tend to sell out.

  8. Ian D said on 21st February 2009, 2:38

    I’ve been a couple of times, 2004 & 2008. I did the same as pink peril & went for Gen. Admission tickets both times. Last year i sat on a rock for 9 hrs & got a numb bum. There are areas where you can sit comfortably on the side of the hill, but you’ll need to get there very early to get them (8am, or before). Next time i’m planning on paying a bit more for the other gen. area(stand z i think),right next to tabac, only prob no tv screen in sight.

    Last year even with the exchange rate, i managed to do the weekend for £250 plus spending money.
    I went by train, eurostar & SNCF, cost just under £100, theres a night train from Paris gets you to Monaco about 9am. Got travel info from seat51.com.

    If you don’t mind camping, theres a campsite at Menton on the French/Italian border, £6 pp per night last year. Its basic, but got OK bar/restaurant with outside dining area overlooking the med. Only downside is its on a platau overlooking the town, although there is a bus service its only a couple of times a day, & not great times for race days. Its about 10 mins by train to Monaco, & if you look up the local map theres a shortcut making it a 10 min walk to the station.

    As for Monaco itself, its only expensive if you want it to be, use the street vendors, for the occasional cold beer, or sandwich, or take your own, the only restriction i noticed was a ban on glass bottles for obvious reasons. On Friday afternoon theres no racing so its a good time to walk the circuit, also both times i’ve been they’ve opened things up on a Friday afternoon once it was the pitlane & the other the access area to the paddock on the quayside. So you get to see the background bits if you’re interested.

  9. donwatters said on 23rd February 2009, 18:44

    Went in 2003. Stayed in Ventimilla (sp?) just across the Italian border. Great hotel. Not very expensive. Great food. Stayed in Nice for a week after the race. Again, not expensive and great food all around. All in all, a most memorable experience and well worth the effort. Monaco has a very pronouced historic vibe which made it seem not so commercial.

  10. James said on 14th April 2009, 0:09

    Saw the 1979 Monaco GP.

    I was in school in Geneva with several other Americans. A group of us rented a car and drove down to Monaco. The Lowes stay was courtesy of a friend’s father, a WWII Army buddy who owned the Lowes.

    Favorite memories:

    Topless women at the Lowes pool. Thank you. I think about you late at night, sometimes in the shower.

    Watching the Lauda/Pironi wreck. Lauda didn’t get past the front of the Lowes but Pironi coasted to a stop where the road goes under the hotel. He was helped from his car and, because he thought he was out of the view of the stands, he zipped down and ****** next to his car. Very funny.

    We had checked out of the room and loaded the car before the race started. The car was parked in the lot in front of the Lowes, right where the race course makes the curve, by the old casino. Wanting to get a jump on traffic and get on the road back to Geneva and term finals, we jumped in the car immediately after the race ended. The only way out the front lot was onto the track so, since no one stopped us, off we went. There were still safety vehicles and disabled race cars on the road. Course workers were blowing whistles at us and waving caution flags. I was driving and I didn’t care (20 yr old punk). Right out the Lowes parking lot, around the hairpin, accelerate past Pironi’s wreck and under the Lowes to the start-finish line. The crowd cheered and the gendarmerie/coppers politely urged our exit from the course. Closest I’ll ever have to driving a GP.

  11. I participated with American film company based in London in the filming of the wet and wild 1972 Grand Prix Monaco. Clients were Marlboro, British Racing Motors and Prince Ranier. Rode with Princess Grace following race from her viewing stand in her convertible. Partied atop Hotel de Paris. What a night!

  12. I went to the GP this year. Awesome. I only went to Monaco on the Sunday. I was in Grandstand L which overlooked the pits, so before and after the race I was able to hang over the balcony and get a good look at what was going on in the pits. Saw a number of the drivers, team principles and a few famous folks like Max Mosley and Richard Branson.

    For the race, the grandstand was very good. Had a nice view of the track, a bit of the pits and in the background was the marina. There was also a big screen on the side of the opposite grandstand, so I could watch the race when cars weren’t right there.

    It is louder than Belgium, probably because the tall buildings and cliff faces capture and echo the sound back. They give out ear plugs with the tickets, but if you are sensitive to noise, you might want to bring your own.

    Beer, water and food is available once inside the track, and it isn’t too expensive.

    Heikki Kovalainen hit the wall just in front of us. I was impressed with the guys who ran out and started picking up the pieces of the car while the cars were still cruising by at high speeds. Strangely, I went to Belgium in 2008 and saw Nelson Piquet Jr. spin out as well. Apparently I am bad luck for the drivers!

    I stayed in San Remo, Italy. I took the train. You need to transfer in Ventimiglia. The cost was €1.90 San Remo – Ventimiglia and €2.50 Ventimiglia – Monaco. The train rides are 13 minutes and 22 minutes respectively, but the arrival and departure times are synchronized so well, so it’ll probably take around 60 minutes to get there.

    I would suggest looking for a place to stay in Ventimiglia, that would be better than San Remo just because it cuts out the transfer.

    Pictures can be seen if you follow the link above to my blog, which is linked specifically to the Monaco GP entry.

    Cheers,
    Greg

  13. Andy Bennetts said on 4th July 2009, 21:52

    Monaco was always going to be expensive, but this year the Euro exchange rate didn’t help at all. My son & I rented an apartment in Nice & travelled to Monaco by train. We had race day tickets and bought tickets for practice and quali at the track. This had the advantage of our being in Casino Square grandstand for practice and the L stand overlooking the pits for quali. In both stands, it was possible to move around after initially taking your seat – it was too packed to do that in Stand K where we had race day seats.
    Photography during the race was limited, but we both got some good shots from the other stands. Overall a great trip – take earplugs – you’ll need them.

  14. Jack said on 29th August 2009, 9:45

    I am looking at tickets for 2010 and they have packages for a 3 day pass = Thursday/Saturday and Sunday.

    This may be a really silly question but why is Friday not included and why is Thursday? What happens on these days?

    • Andy Bennetts said on 29th August 2009, 12:42

      There’s no racing on the Friday. That doesn’t mean nothing happens – best to check on the day if any events are planned, but you won’t see cars on the track.
      If you have a 3 day pass you might like to consider sitting in different grandstands – see my earlier comments.

  15. Jack Foster said on 17th October 2009, 17:00

    I went tot the Monaco GP in 08. Awesome! I sat between Rascasse and Hodges just across from the pit entrance. It was a great place to watch. You get to see all the drivers and celebrities coming into the pits from their off site quarters. I stayed in Nice and used the train. Very easy to get to. I used the VRBO (vacation rental by owner) to rent an apartment. Great way to go.

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