Published on September 08, 2023Updated on October 20, 2023
Exceptional hotels, Michelin-starred restaurant, legendary events and prestigious guests… The saga of Monte-Carlo Société des Bains de Mer spans a few centuries and tells the story of a passionate search for perfection. Let us tell you its story in twelve key dates, against a backdrop of sunny climes and Dolce Vita...
It all began in 1863, with the foundation of Monte-Carlo Société des Bains de Mer and the opening of the Monte-Carlo Casino. The Monaco Riviera began attracting the crowned heads of Europe, who came to spend the winter. The Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo, Café de Paris Monte-Carlo and the Hôtel Hermitage Monte-Carlo were built in the elegant Belle époque style, to welcome them as required. Luxury cars paraded outside the Casino de Monte-Carlo, diamonds sparkled, Sarah Bernhardt inaugurates Salle Garnier in 1879… as a foretaste of the greatest of adventures.
As they fell in love with the Riviera, British visitors inspired a new project in the Principality: the creation of a golf course. A sumptuous 18-hole course was created at Mont Agel, overlooking the Mediterranean, becoming the favourite meeting point of the most renowned athletes. That same year, Salle Garnier welcomed Diaghilev and his Russian Ballets. Exceptional times became the norm in Monaco.
In the 1920s and 1930s, European jet-setters were looking for new forms of summer entertainment. Monaco’s beauty and climate attracted celebrities and royal families alike. The Monte-Carlo Beach, a hotel nestled between the sea and pine woods, opened for business in 1929, one year after the Beach Club, and became the symbol of the dolce vita by the seaside. Three years later, in 1931, the Sporting d’été established itself as the place to be by hosting festive and prestigious events.
Saturday night fever infected Monaco. In 1971, Régine worked with Société des Bains de Mer to open an innovative club: Jimmy’z Monte-Carlo. Mick Jagger, Rudolf Nureyev, Farrah Fawcett, Johnny Hallyday, Jean-Paul Belmondo: it was the meeting point of international jet-setters, where the best disc jockeys performed, to the delight of revellers who occupied the dance floor and the garden until dawn.
As the ultimate culinary destination, Monaco attracts the world’s top chefs. In 1987, this is where Alain Ducasse, a 33-year-old chef with two Michelin stars, decided to move. At the request of Société des Bains de Mer, he created the Louis XV, a gourmet restaurant at the heart of the Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo. He designed epicurean, elegant menus, celebrating local Mediterranean produce and appealing to experts and amateurs alike… earning him his third Michelin star.
The 1990s dragged by, as idleness was in fashion. In Monaco, the Thermes Marins were refurbished and converted into a high-end centre entirely dedicated to well-being. Swimming pool, sun deck, sauna, treatment rooms… the Thermes became, and have remained, the ideal location for a well-earned break.
At the heart of the Monte-Carlo Opera House, Salle Garnier was given a new lease of life. Works started on the modernisation of the interior space while respecting the original architecture. H.S.H. Prince Albert II, who had just been enthroned, inaugurated the new site in 2005 to the music of Rossini’s Il Viaggio a Reims. Salle Garnier regained its place on the international stage, regularly welcoming the world’s most famous artists.
A legendary address in Monaco, the bar at La Rascasse became part of the Monte-Carlo Société des Bains de Mer Resort. A new chapter was written, focusing on festive, eclectic events. It is also an unmissable annual meeting point for Formula 1 aficionados… as the bar is located on one of the most spectacular bends of the Grand Prix.
The perfect embodiment of Monaco’s hedonism, the Monte-Carlo Beach was completely redesigned by Iranian architect India Mahdavi. What remained: the glamour, the mildness of the seaside and the iconic, Art-Deco style diving board. What changed: everything else, modernised and enhanced with luxurious and colourful notes. The Elsa restaurant, dedicated to natural & local cuisine, opened its doors, attracting gourmets and connoisseurs.
The first port of call of international jet-setters, Buddha-Bar Monte-Carlo opened its doors in Monaco, featuring a plush atmosphere, oriental-themed décor and fusion cuisine served under the gaze of a five-meter-high Buddha. It became the favourite haunt of lounge music lovers.
Three years later, in 2013, Monte-Carlo Société des Bains de Mer celebrated its 150th anniversary an event attended by stars from around the world.
That same year, the COYA Monte-Carlo restaurant opened its doors only steps away from Jimmy’z Monte-Carlo, immersing its guests in Latin American culture as part of a multi-sensory journey.
New features abound in Monaco, from the renovation of Jardins des Boulingrins to the opening of the ultra-trendy One Monte-Carlo and its shopping promenade. Michelin-starred chef Marcel Ravin opened a new restaurant poetically named Mada One, a unique site dedicated to “snackonomy”. Meanwhile, the Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo celebrated the creation of the sumptuous Patio, a timeless place that features the greatest fine jewellery houses.
Monaco continues to develop. 2020 marked the inauguration of the new Place du Casino and the renovation of the legendary Country Club. In 2022, the Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo welcomed Em Sherif Monte-Carlo, a high-end Lebanese restaurant that offers traditional and generous cuisine. We should also mention the opening of Pavyllon Monte-Carlo, a restaurant by Yannick Alléno, the Michelin-starred chef who delights all taste buds. Last but not least… the brand new Café de Paris Monte-Carlo, an iconic place enhanced by its renovation. Monaco's history continues to be written… with new must-see places such as Maona Monte-Carlo or Amazonico Monte-Carlo.