Marvellous Monte Carlo Tennis

Ever thought about going to the Monte Carlo Masters? It’s a wonderful tennis tournament with surely one of the best ever court side views, which combines both tennis and stunning scenery. Read on to find out what it’s like to attend this high class tourney.

Monte Carlo is one of the tennis tournaments that I haven’t yet attended and is high up on my bucket list! As much for the high quality tennis and views, as for the fact that Rafa won his ninth title there this year!

As I love sharing the ‘fan experience’ from as many tennis tournaments as possible, I’m pleased to publish this guest article, written by Kyle Ross, about his experience at the event. 

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There are many tennis fans out there who swear by the European clay court season as the pinnacle of what a tennis tourism experience should be: springtime tennis in beautiful mediterranean locales. 

The players are eager to make the transition to clay and for many of the European-based players it’s a chance to come home as they gear up for what remains the most provincial of the Grand Slams, the French Open. For spectators the clay court season is an opportunity to watch tennis in places like the Stadio Nicola Pietrangeli in Rome and Court Central at the Monte Carlo Country Club, with the first resembling tennis played in a Roman garden and the latter as if a tennis stadium has been dropped onto a yacht club: 

StadioNicolaPietrangeli copy

Court Central at Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters copy

Why Monte-Carlo?

Working backwards from the French Open, the 3 big events are the Internazionali d’Italia in Rome, the Mutua Madrid Masters in Madrid and the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters in Monaco. It’s this last one I want to talk about, because:

  • Monte Carlo is the tournament that most frequently predicts the French Open Finalists
  • It’s an enduring tennis event with a legacy that spans a century of tennis tradition
  • It’s the first event of the clay court swing and acts as a harbinger of what the rest of the spring has in store for us. (And in the notable 2005 case of Richard Gasquet, sometimes Monte Carlo doesn’t predict all: When Gasquet would conquer the world)
  • And I’m sure we all agree that the views are magnificent!

Monaco is a tiny principality tucked in between France and Italy on the Cote d’Azur, and Monte-Carlo is its stylish capital city known for its casino (built in 1863 and made popular by numerous people, including James Bond) and its most famous princess, American actress Grace Kelly. Whether it’s the striking beauty of the city and the coast or the favorable tax structure they have in place, ( Monaco has notoriously exclusive standards for residency, mostly focused on mandatory income and assets), it’s no secret that numerous tennis stars have homes in Monte-Carlo

Side note re French Open clay court lead up tournaments: Check out GSG’s wrap of the Barcelona Open 2016 here.

At the Tourney

Of course, there are many ways to visit the 2017 Monte Carlo Masters event, and I choose to see it with Topnotch Tennis Tours. (You may have heard of their parent company Grand Slam Tennis Tours, which specializes in travel to the four major events, and Topnotch travels to select masters events on the ATP and WTA tours, such as the BNP Paribas in Indian Wells, Miami Open, and the above-mentioned Internazionali d’Italia in Rome.)

To give you an idea of the service involved, the first transfer they organize for you is a Helicopter transfer to and from the airport in Nice, France. It’s like this (unfortunately having Federer on the flight is not incuded!): 

Transportation

If you’re arriving on your own, you should know that Monte Carlo is small and the streets are tight. Avoid using a car if you can. A train will treat you very well. During the tournament it stops at the “Monte Carlo Country Club” station, which is about 500 meters from the tournament gate. If you’re coming from Nice, the #100 bus leaves the station every 15 minutes and you should get off at the Saint Roman stop, which leaves you with a short walk to the gates. 

The Seats

Court Central is a smaller stadium than most big events and there isn’t really a bad seat in the house, but rest assured, my seats were better than most of the other people in the stadium. Not so close that I could see the fuzz off the balls, but close enough to see the bits of dirt. I couldn’t smell Nadal, but I could clearly see the sweat. 

Practice Courts

While all Masters 1000-level events are generally appealing in that they offer fans access top tour players without the size, scope, and red-tape of a Grand Slam, Monte Carlo is an intimate site with great practice court access. You can get close, and what you get is a special view of the best players on earth re-engaging with the clay after months away from it. You see the spray of the clay. Hear the spin on the ball. And you smell the sea.

Here’s a video of Fed and David Goffin practicing: 

Some Notes on Ticket Rules

  • Children under 5 enter free, as long as there is one responsible adult present. 
  • The tournament holds no liability if there is a strike or a “force majeure event”.
  • Animals are prohibited from the entire site.
  • No re-entry.

Food and Drink

There are 8 unique food options on site, from the ubiquitous and near-compulsory “Tie-Break” in the food court to higher-end gourmet fare at Lopen or Le Masters, which has sea views as delicious as its food. 

There are no explicit rules stating what you can and cannot bring into the grounds, though all bags are subject to search. Our suggestions, based on non-scientific and anecdotal research, would be to bring what you’d like to enjoy inside, but nothing you wouldn’t mind tossing in the garbage or eating/drinking in five minutes outside the gates. 

If you’re looking for some food outside of the grounds, we’d recommend Elsa, a 100% organic seafood restaurant that has earned 1 Michelin star. Of course it’s not cheap, but it offers a quality meal that rivals the quality of the tennis a few steps away.  

Off-Site

Through the Topnotch tour package I stayed at Le Méridien Beach Plaza Monte Carlo. It’s a fashionable, 4-star hotel, well-appointed and close to everything. The tennis doesn’t last forever, so for me one of the highlights was their Unlock Art program that the hotel offers which gives you free and easy access to the nearby Monaco National Musée Nouveau. All I had to do was show my room key.

Topnotch Travel Tours

Travel is inherently stressful with a lot of moving parts, and when you throw a tennis tournament into the mix it can be daunting. Some people prefer to do it themselves, but it also makes a lot of sense to leave it to the people who create tennis tours every day. They have lots of options, but you’re also able to work with them to craft unique, custom experiences. And these guys love tennis; they love to play it, talk about it, and watch it, all while traveling to great places. If you’re planning on traveling to the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters in 2017, I’d highly recommend getting in touch with Topnotch Tennis Tours to have them take you there.

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