It’s one of the most glamorous events in the motor racing calendar. Every May the rich and famous descend on the small European nation of Monaco for the Grand Prix, which sees cars whizz through the city streets. It’s partly the stunning setting and partly the upmarket image of the event which makes it such a draw for the A-list, but is it possible to see the Monaco grand prix without taking out a second mortgage?
Plan Your Travel
Monaco doesn’t have its own airport and the nearest is at Nice, a few miles away down the coast. Flights into Nice are more expensive over the weekend of the Grand Prix, so if you were planning a holiday anyway, be flexible with when you arrive or leave and factor in a few days in the south of France either side of the main event. Consider other airports – it’s around two hours’ drive from Monaco to Marseille or Genoa in Italy, slightly further to Turin and Milan. Eurostar trains run direct to Marseille, and you also have the longer option of a cross channel ferry and driving.
Monaco is expensive, and even if you can afford the sky-high hotel prices it can be almost impossible to find a room in the city. France and Italy have a great range of budget hotels under the Etap, Formule 1 and Ibis brands, and staying in Nice or across the border into Italy can be much more reasonable. Camping is another cheap option, but book your pitch as far in advance as possible. There is lots of self-catering accommodation within 20 miles of Monaco, with everything from luxurious villas to cheaper town centre apartments. The benefit of self-catering is also that you’ll save money on eating out as you can grab a takeaway or cook simple meals yourself. Get together with a group of friends to reduce the price per head even further.
Seeing the Race
The main race on the Sunday is the star attraction of the weekend and there’s often no way round the high ticket prices as demand is so high. Tickets for practice sessions on the Thursday and Friday are significantly cheaper and you’ll still be able to see your favourite drivers tearing round the circuit. On the race day, head to the Place D’Armes near the Royal Palace where there are large screens showing the race live, along with entertainment and food and drink stalls. Soak up the atmosphere without having to pay to be actually on the course during the race. Another great alternative is the Formula E event which is held just before the main Grand Prix event, on a similar section of track. This is the Grand Prix for electric vehicles, and technological advances mean it’s just as fast and thrilling as the petrol powered version. Grandstand tickets for Formula E in 2017 cost just 20 euros – a bargain compared with the 300 euros or more you’ll have to shell out for a Formula 1 ticket.