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How the Ligurian Rock of the "Monoïkos" became an Independent Sovereign State : the Principality of Monaco.

Inhabited since Antiquity (the traces of primitive habitation have been found in a cave in the St Martin Gardens), the Rock of Monaco no doubt owes its name to the Ligurian tribe of the "Monoïkos" who occupied it in the sixth century B.C.

But its history is really only known from the thirteenth century A.D. : on 10th June 1215 the Genoese laid on the Rock the first stone of a fortress, on the foundations of which lies the present Prince's Palace. Over in Genoa, a merciless struggle was taking place between the Guelphs and Ghibellines. Expelled from Italy in 1295 and taking and refuge in Provence, the Guelphs mounted an expedition led by François Grimaldi known as "Malizia" and seized the fortress of Monaco on 8th January 1297. From that date onwards, the history of the Rock is intertwined with that of the Grimaldi family, one of the most brilliant families of the Genoese aristocracy, whose sovereignty over Monaco was successively recognized : in 1437 by the Republic of Genoa, in 1489 by King Charles VIII of France and the Court of Savoy and in 1494 by the Catholic Kings. Sovereigns of the independent State of Monaco, the Grimaldis were also Lords of Menton and Roquebrune until in 1848 these two areas proclaimed themselves "free communes".

On 2nd February 1861 a new treaty between Napoleon III and the Principality of Monaco recognized the incorporation in France of Nice and Menton and at the same time recognized the Principality as an Sovereign State.

This date marks a new phase in the history of the Rock and the starting point of an epic which in one hundred years was to make of the Principality, on the international tourist level, a symbol of refinement and one of the high spots of the art of living.

A tourist vocation born of limitations cleverly overcome

Independent, but reduced to its borders of the Middle Ages and deprived of the resources of Roquebrune and Menton, the Principality then decided to base its economic development on what was not yet known as "tourism" and to exploit to this end all the advantages which Nature had unstintingly given it:

  • a setting whose beauty was already famous
  • a climate of exceptional mildness (the average temperature for the year is 16.31 degrees C)
  • a great amount of sunshine (1.583 hours) on average per year.

To exploit these advantages, it was first of all necessary to display them, make them known and enliven them : a gaming house, the "Société des Bains de Mer et du Cercle des Etrangers" (The Sea Bathing and Circle of Foreigners Company) was set up and the monopoly of its use was granted in 1863 to François Blanc. Under his guidance the name of Monaco became synonymous with fortune, gaming, holidays and travel. Luxury and refinement too since appeal could be made to the greatest names of the era, in particular to Charles Garnier, the architect of the Paris Opera House, for the building of the Casino.

The establishment of scheduled links by land and sea with Nice and the opening in 1867 of the Nice-Ventimiglia railway made possible an increase in the number of visitors whilst hotels rose from the ground and, on the old plateau of the Spélugues, renamed Monte Carlo in 1866, villa and private residences were constructed. With the creation in 1869 of the Monte Carlo Opera, the organization of concerts and choreographic and lyric spectacles, culture from now on became a close and harmonious neighbour of leisure to make Monaco a place whose fame continued to grow and to attract the greatest celebrities.

Born in the 1860s out of limitations imposed by History and overcome thanks to the spirit of enterprise and vision of the future possessed by Prince Charles III, the tourist vocation of the Principality grew from strength to strength.

Tourism remains one of the main driving forces of the Monégasque economy

In 1989 the average rate of occupation of hotel rooms, counting all hotels right through the year, reached 61,62 %. Constant expansion has, of course, brought about considerable development both of the turnover figures of firms directly connected with tourism (hotels, restaurants, travel agencies and shops) and in the field of employment.

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Since his accession, the role of H.S.H. Prince Rainier III has been vital. He once declared:

"Our prosperity, which is making regular and marked progress, is shown by the record figures of the tourist trade as well as by the increasing activity of Monégasque industries and commerce. We can only hope to better these results if we make unceasing efforts to improve our equipment. The Principality owes it to itself to develop with the times and show itself capable of modernization".

These words have been transformed into deeds by the adoption of a policy of development created so as to combine modernity and sophistication.

"Improving equipment" : gaining ground ...

The future for the Principality, depends on first of all gaining ground and then making better use of it. After having transformed the old railway line (now underground) into a major road and demolished its second railway station in order to make possible the construction of a hotel and apartment complex, the Government of the Principality recovered from the sea the platform of Larvotto (where SBM built the Monte Carlo Sporting Club) and Portier (Green area and future Cultural and Exhibition Centre). Then followed the construction of the new area of Fontvieille : 22 hectares completely recovered from the sea by means of a revolutionary new technique on which today stands a new urban and industrial complex consisting of a residential zone of 2,000 dwellings with their administrative offices, the new Louis II Stadium, a landscaped garden and rose garden, a three-star hotel, a heliport, a yachting harbour in addition to an industrial zone of 53,000 square metres, bringing the total surface area of premises in industrial or commercial use in Fontvieille to nearly 270,000 square metres.

... and use it better.

In parallel with this policy of creating new space, and partly owing to it, a large-scale operation of renovation and modernization of existing infrastructures has been launched : renovation of old area, improvement of the road network and parking facilities, increase in equipment making pedestrian movement easier ...

In line with this policy, the area of the old Louis II Stadium has been used to create a large commercial complex complete with shops, a car-park for 700 vehicles, a road transport station for commercial vehicles and very attractive new museums with exceptional collections of old cars, postage stamps and coins. In addition, numerous free public lifts provide links between the Larvotto beaches and the Place des Moulins, the Exotic Garden and the Princess Grace Hospital Centre, the harbour and the Avenue de la Costa, the Place St Dévote and the area of Monéghetti, the terraces of the Casino and the Congres Centre-Auditorium and the Boulevard Louis II.

"Develop with its times" : diversification

At the same time, other investments have been made to follow the development of the tourist market and diversity supply and product.

Business tourism and conferences have developed to a considerable extent. From 36,000 nights spent in hotels in this connection in 1971, the figure rose to 229,000 nights in 1989, a third of the total, and in 1992, in spite of the crisis, 185.019 nights were registered, 27 % of the total. Numerous promotional activities undertaken in the period between November and March will improve these results even more in the years to come.

In this field, some large-scale projects have already been approved and more are to be in the future :

- first, in the sphere of equipment : the modernization of the International Meeting Centre but above all the building between 1976 and 1978 of the Monte Carlo Congress Centre-Auditorium, erected overhanging the sea, a multi-purpose establishment with on its four floors a total of 1,800 square metres and provided with all the necessary technical equipment, particularly in the audio-visual field ;

- in the sphere of organization of reception and leisure : within a radius of 200 metres around the Congress Centre-Auditorium there are five luxury hotels with a total of 1,400 rooms, a large number of restaurants, the Casino, the Winter Sporting Club, the Café de Paris, a swimming-pool, two night clubs, discotheques, four cinema halls and a great number of deluxe boutiques.

The co-ordination of the whole of the reception process (the reservation of meeting rooms and bedrooms, programmes for both work and leisure) is provided by the Tourist and Convention Service of the Principality, thus enabling congress and seminar organizers to deal with only one authority.

The development of leisure tourism is also the subject of a policy of development and similar diversification. Here again, to cater for a trend towards shorter stays and meet the needs of a clientele which is always demanding more comfort and higher quality, the keywords are modernization and diversification:

- modernization with the creation of new artistic centres such as the Princess Grace Theatre inaugurated in 1981 and the building or renovation of several hotels.

- diversification with the creation of facilities for new forms of tourism, such as yachting : the harbour in the Condamine has now been supplemented by the provision in the new area of Fontvieille of two yachting harbours whose basins have surface areas of 5.5 hectares and 3.5 hectares respectively. A Cultural and Exhibition Centre is also to be constructed on the site of the old Centenary Hall.

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Richness and variety are the two adjectives usually applied to the hotel industry in the Principality. Witnesses of a splendid past and incomparable luxury, the old grand hotels are still here. It was in their corridors that the short history of Monte Carlo has been haphazardly written form the confidences of the celebrities who have walked along them.

Symbols of a legendary period, they have defied time and from their tradition of yesterday arises their reputation of today :


The equestrian statue of the Sun King which ornaments the entrance hall certifies that its luxury and comfort are worthy of the Chateau of Versailles. It contains 271 rooms, recently renovated, three high quality restaurants - "Le Louis XV", "Le Grill", and "La Salle Empire" - a covered swimming-pool with sauna and health centre, a bar where one sees the great figures of this world, luxury boutiques and a fabulous wine- cellar ... who has never dreamt of spending a night, once in a lifetime, in the Hotel de Paris ?


A close neighbour of the above-named, it has been completely redecorated in the purest style of the "Belle Epoque". It has 236 modernized rooms and a high quality restaurant with a terrace overlooking the harbour ... One of the symbols of great hotel-keeping in Monte Carlo.


A great luxury establishment, open from April to September in the exceptional framework of the bathing facilities of Monte Carlo Beach. It has been completely renovated with fittings and furnishings providing the greatest possible comfort for its guests.

In addition to these establishments, which belong to the famous Société des Bains de Mer, some new hotels have been built as a logical process of renewal in the hotel world.


This is a veritable city inside the city. It has 636 rooms, 5 restaurants and 4 bars, a cabaret, an American games room, 16 meeting rooms, a communication centre, a swimming-pool on the roof, a health centre with a sauna and boutiques (a world apart where one can spend several days without feeling the need to venture outside).


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This is a superb hotel complex (316 rooms) with two swimming-pools and private beach. It is managed by the British group "Trust Houses Forte".


With increased comfort after recent renovation, 100 modern rooms, a swimming-pool and a high quality restaurant. Its management is provided by the Société des Bains de Mer.


A magnificent establishment entirely reconstructed in the "Belle Epoque" style. 170 rooms, 30 of which are complete suites, 3 restaurants, a swimming-pool with heated sea-water, conference rooms, a luxurious shopping gallery with a hundred boutiques located on four floors and a car-park with 600 places.


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Situated close to the landscaped park in Fontvieille, opposite the Princess Grace Rose Garden. It has 192 rooms, a lobby-bar and a great restaurant with a terrace.

Mention should also be made of the Alexandra, the Balmoral, the Louvre, the Miramar, the Versailles, the Siècle and the Terminus, so many establishments which are worthy complements of the tourism vocation of the Principality.


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The restaurants of the Principality are distinguished by the quality of the food, the richness of certain wine-cellars, the diversity of specialities and types of restaurants.

In fact, from the great tables to fast food, from Monégasque and Italian cookery to Indian, Mexican or Chinese dishes, from the picturesque framework of the old vaulted rooms of Monaco-Ville to the splendid decor of the Salle Empire, the visitor can satisfy his every whim. Among the 150 or so great and small restaurants - it is impossible to name them all - are :

The restaurants Le Louis XV, Le Grill, La Salle Empire (Hotel de Paris), Le Belle Epoque (Hotel Hermitage), Le Foie Gras (Hotel Loews), Le Gratin (Hotel Beach Plaza), La Coupole (Hotel Mirabeau), Rampoldi and Le Bec Rouge are the strongholds of great cookery.

Le Saint-Benoît, Le Café de la Mer, le Quicksilver, l'Escale and Le Saint-Charles specialize in fish and seafood.

Le Pulcinella, le Polpetta, Le Pinocchio, Chez Bacco, Chez Gianni and Le Santa Lucia provide Italian specialities.

Le Castelroc and Le Pistou provide the opportunity to enjoy certain traditional Monégasque dishes.

The Salle des Etoiles of the Monte Carlo Sporting Club is the fairy-tale setting for numerous gala dinners during the summer season.

Le Cabaret located in the gardens of the Casino and the Folies Russes of Loews Hotel provide a dinner and floor-show with international attractions.

For further information, consult the brochure published by the Tourist and Convention Service entitled "Restaurants".

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Having, in a radius of 200 metres, five luxury hotels, a great number of restaurants, the most famous Casino in the world, the Café de Paris, a swimming-pool, several night clubs and cinemas, luxury boutiques ... this seems impossible and yet this is the astonishing concentration of these poles of interests that Monte Carlo has become, making it the ideal town for the organization of any event combining the useful with the pleasant.

The Monte Carlo Congress Centre - Auditorium

The Monte Carlo Congress Centre-Auditorium is a veritable masterpiece of contemporary architecture, poised over the sea at the eastern end of the Spélugues real estate complex. Two years were required for the construction of this edifice which was designed by the architects Jean Ginsbert, Hubert Weisskamp and Jean and José Notari. The Centre is above all an original work. The unconformity deliberately chosen shows itself first of all at the level of the platform which supports the edifice. It is surrounded by a protecting sea-wall with a specially designed profile. This sea-wall has in it a regular alternation of cavities and deflectors whose function is to break the force of the sea while giving the structure great lightness in appearance.

The originality of the Congress Centre is also shown in the hexagonal shape of the real estate complex with which it is integrated. This geometric figure re-occurs throughout the whole of the Centre. The building of staircases where no step is perpendicular to a wall, the fitting of false ceilings and floor coverings represented so many problems whose solutions could be nothing but unusual.

The Auditorium named after H.S.H. Prince Rainier III was designed for multi-purpose use. It may in fact be used for congresses but also for symphony concerts, the recording of music and variety shows. The problems of the acoustics were the subject of intensive research and led to a solution unique of its kind : a metallic starred framework, a veritable lace of more than 3,000 metres of steel tubing, provides, between the holes of its immense net, the rest of the volume required by the acoustics. The wall coverings of the Rainier III Auditorium have been treated so as to provide a perfect adaptation to the various uses planned, using vertical cylinders whose surfaces are half made of reflecting woodwork and half of sound-absorbing material. Electrically controlled, these cylinders can pivot on their axes and present one or other of their faces as required.

The seats are equipped with a special arm-rest in which is housed all the equipment required by a person taking part in a conference (a microphone, headphone, language-selector and writing block). Six interpreters' cabins are completely isolated from the hall by double glazing and projection equipment makes it possible to show audio-visual cassettes as well as films of all sizes from 8 to 70 mm and in Dolby Stereo. Equipment is provided for sound and lighting control, together with four cabins, as well as by a scenery unit which complies with the most recent standards.

The Congress Centre - Auditorium has a ground floor consisting of an entrance hall with reception facilities and information offices. Staircases, escalators and lifts provide access from this hall to the upper floors.

On the first floor there are several rooms, a communications office with telephone and telefacsimile equipment and the "Troparium", a winter garden overlooking the sea, enclosed by immense bay windows and containing a magnificent Aubusson tapestry, seventy square metres in area, created by the artist Jean-Michel Folon.

On the second level there is the Auditorium Rainier III, a magnificent hall with 1,100 seats and a stage of 220 square metres ; a huge circular foyer, a snack bar, various offices and a committee room with 180 seats.

The third level has direct access to Loews Hotel and houses two foyers of 120 and 170 square metres, transformable into two committee rooms which are able to accommodate 120 and 180 people respectively, and various offices.

The decoration is both simple and original. Its brown tones, bronze and tobacco, give the whole structure a warm and restful atmosphere.

The Congress Centre - Auditorium provides exhibitors with a total surface area of 1,800 square metres, spread over four floors and able to accommodate 100 exhibition stands from 7 to 9 square metres.

Add to this the perfectly designed lighting, an internal television circuit and background music and you will easily see that the Congress Centre - Auditorium is a perfect compromise between work and relaxation.

The latest techniques have in fact been incorporated into a decor suitable for a four star cruise liner sailing the Mediterranean.

Proof of its efficiency, the Congress Centre - Auditorium has already accommodated important events for the following :

Abbey Life, Actua Life and Casualty Insurance, Agip, Air France, Alfa Romeo, American Electronic Association, American Express, Anomalies labro-palatines et crano-faciales, Apple, Arthur Young, Association Internationale de la Couleur, Australian Mutual Providence, Bausch and Lomb, Bayer, Beckman, BMW, Bonnfinanz, Bosch, British Petroleum, British Leyland, Bull, Cadillac, Canada Life Insurance, Cardiostim, Castrol, Chase Manahttan Bank, Chirurgie cardio-vasculaire, Christian Dior, Ciba Geigy, Citroen, City Bank, Coca-Cola, Conference on Inflammation, Control Data, Convention Mondiale sur les systems de paiement et les transferts électroniques de fonds, Crown Life Insurance, Deutsche Bank, Deutsches Reiseburo Verband, Digital Equipment, Dunlop, Distripress, Dulcis et Zyma Ophtalmologie et Rhibologie, Elf, Esomar, Esso, Eurolloyd, European Petrochemical Association, Falcon, Fédération Nationald des Parfumeurs Détaillants, Festival International du Lin, Fiat, Fina, Ford, Gastech, General Electric, General Motors, Goodyear, Gould Electronics, Grand Marnier, Heinz, Hippocrate 2001, Hitachi, Honda, IBM, ICL, Insol International, Instituto Finanziere Milanese, Intercam, International Data Corporation, International Herald Tribune, Irish Life Insurance, Jaguar, Juveline Diabetes Foundation International, Kodak, Lancia, Lancôme, Lesieur-Cotelle, L'Oréal, Lycra RendezVous, 3M, Magenti, Marelli, Mattel, McDonald's, Mercedes-Benz, Metal Bulletin, Merieux, Merrill Lynch, Mitsubishi, Motta Iglo, Nissan, Northwestern National Life, Nuclear Magnetic Resonance in Medicine, Nuernberg Versicherung, Opel, Panasonic, Paveli, Peugeot, Pfizer, Philips, Piaggio, Pipeline Contractors Ass., Porsche, La Psychanalyse de l'Enfant, Renault, Renault Vehicules Industriels, Rendez-Vous de Septembre des Assureurs, Revlon, Risk Management, Rims, Saab, Seat, Shell, Siemens AG, Skull Base Study Group, Squibb, State Farm Insurance, Stress, Sun Life Assurance, Suzuki, Texas Instruments, Thomson, Toshiba, Total, Toyota, Union Européenne de Radiodiffusion, Unipart, Vichy, Volkduersorge, Volvo ...

The International Meeting Centre

Overlooking the main harbour of Monaco, the International Meeting Centre is an essential complement to the Congress Centre - Auditorium. It houses the Salle du Ponant (seating 500), the Salle des Spélugues (100) and has 800 square metres of surface area available for artistic or professional exhibitions.

The International Meeting Centre is equipped with a system for simultaneous translation into five languages and very comprehensive audio-visual equipment including facilities for the projection of films from 8 to 35 mm.

Situated in the same building, the Princess Grace Theatre possesses a marvellous auditorium with 356 seats for the presentation of high quality spectacles (plays, concerts, lectures and all types of cultural events).

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The Winter Sporting Club

In the very heart of Monte Carlo, it has several meeting rooms and exhibition halls of various sizes.

The hotels

... do not limit themselves to simply providing bedrooms for people attending conferences but can also accommodate their proceedings. A good number of them have, in fact, rooms specially equipped for this purpose, in particular Loews Monte Carlo (with direct access to the Congress Centre - Auditorium), the Hermitage and the Beach Plaza.

The future Cultural and Exhibition Centre : Le Forum Grimaldi

Its construction on the Portier platform will make it possible to substantially increase the reception facilities of the Principality by providing an exhibition surface of one floor of about 4,800 square metres, a great auditorium with 1,200 seats and 7 conference rooms with 900, 400, 200 and 100 seats.


The Fontvieille Space

A circular big top of 62 metres in diameter (3850 square metres) made of special tent canvas, with 4 supporting poles.

With its circus concept and "theatre in-the-round", it has a very comfortable seating capacity for over 4000 people. With only 4 standing poles for support, the audience has unobstructed views.

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A complete service :

The congress office of the Tourist and Convention Service of the Principality of Monaco can, on request, guarantee either by itself or by using outside skilled labour, a complete organization service, based on many years of experience :

  • accommodation
  • tourism and travelling (transfers, excursions, visits, journeys before and after the congress)
  • reception and leisure (cocktail parties, banquets, galas, spectacles, fashion shows, programmes for people accompanying delegates)
  • reception (at the airport, at the congress centre, in the hotels, by multilingual hostesses)
  • technical assistance for the organization of meetings and exhibitions in the congress centres
  • miscellaneous services (brochures, briefcases, badges, gifts, trinkets ...)

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Published by GALE FORCE of Monaco