The Stade Louis II is set right on the Mediterranean coast, in the suburb of Fontvieille, a short distance from the cliffs of the Côte d'Azur. Although its capacity is a little under 20,000, the spectacular setting and stunning design make it one of the most impressive stadiums in French football.
The Stade Louis II is named after the grandfather of Monaco's late Prince Rainier III, who opened the ground in 1985. It is home to AS Monaco FC and, as such, no stranger to big European nights, notably in 1998 and 2004 when the local favourites reached the UEFA Champions League semi-finals. Since 1998 it has hosted the UEFA Super Cup, while the running track around the pitch is used for international athletics events.
Built near the site of the old Monaco stadium, the Stade Louis II was the brainchild of Prince Rainier III, who brought in top architects from Paris to construct the multi-storey sports complex. Much of the venue's facilities are underground, including its car park, swimming pools and gymnasia, all of this was built on land reclaimed from the Mediterranean in the early 1980s.
Supporters will find plenty of other attractions to distract them in glamorous Monte Carlo. Long a byword for jet-set excess, the famous Monte Carlo Casino – built in the 19th century and designed by Parisian architect Charles Garnier – remains an icon of old-world splendour. Guests must be smartly dressed, with a well-stuffed wallet and a steely nerve essential for anyone wishing to break the bank.
Those unwilling to gamble can take a punt on a day at Monaco's celebrated aquarium in Monaco-Ville, while other family-friendly options include the national museum near Larvotto beach and the Naval Museum featuring Prince Rainier III's private collection of scale models.
The splendour of Monaco's ruling House of Grimaldi can be sampled at the royal palace in Monaco-Ville, where the state Carabiniers perform the changing of the guard at 11.55CET every day. Monaco Cathedral is also worth a visit. Built on the ruins of a 13th-century chapel, it houses the tombs of, among others, Princess Grace – more widely known as Hollywood star Grace Kelly – mother of current Sovereign Prince Albert II.
Nightlife in Monaco has the reputation of being a glitzy merry-go-round, frequented by European royalty and international celebrities, epitomised by the discotheques and floor shows at the Monte Carlo Sporting Club, or the American Bar at the Hotel de Paris. Dining out is a lavish affair, but there are cheaper options around La Condamine and the old town.
By air – Nice airport is 22km from the city.
Buses from Terminals 1 and 2 regularly make the 45-minute journey to Monte Carlo while a taxi may also be an option.
By train – Monaco-Monte Carlo station is a stop for many international trains and is connected to all the top resorts of the Côte d'Azur. The station is on avenue Prince-Pierre in La Condamine, adjoining Fontvieille where you will find the Stade Louis II.
By road – The principality is linked to all neighbouring countries by major motorways (principally the A8 highway). From Italy, take the 'Monaco-Roquebrune' exit. From France, take the '56 Monaco' exit.
For further details go to www.visitmonaco.com
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