Monte-Carlo Beach

“We were living a dream with our feet in the water”

A symbol of the boom in seaside tourism in the 1930s, the establishment by the sea also has its regular guests, such as René Croesi, who enjoys talking about its history, stars and legends.

2022 – Le Monte-Carlo Beach aujourd’hui.

In the 1920s, the Société des Bains de Mer quickly realised that if British and Russian visitors came to Monaco for the dancing, opera and gaming, and the season generally ran from Christmas to Easter, they needed to offer something in the summer, or the guests would prefer other destinations. This is how the Monte-Carlo Beach came to be inaugurated in 1928, and it’s worth remembering that its Olympic seawater swimming pool is still the largest on the Côte d’Azur,” says René Croesi, former artistic and administrative director of the Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte-Carlo. He became familiar with this seaside resort in the 1960s, when he studied with Anne Grinda, daughter of the director.

1975 – Le Prince Louis de Polignac.

“He wanted young people to come to the Beach, so he welcomed us in and we were a happy bunch of kids. We knew how lucky we were to be there with all those celebrities,” recalls the music lover. The first among these were obviously columnist and social event organiser Elsa Maxwell, who brought in a stream of Hollywood stars, and Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel. “More recently, Karl Lagerfeld would come down from his palatial villa for a swim, and Princess Grace would bring her children for a dip in the water, accompanied by friends such as David Niven, who lived nearby in St-Jean-Cap-Ferrat,” continues René Croesi. “Back then, when people wanted to sunbathe, guests had to carry an air mattress onto the beach. One day, as Prince Rainier III was returning by helicopter from his villa on Mont Agel, he thought that this didn’t look aesthetically pleasing for an elegant establishment, and that it looked like a morgue. So he asked his cousin Prince Louis de Polignac, president of the Société des Bains de Mer, to have them replaced with daybeds.”

Danièle Garcelon, la directrice du Monte-Carlo Beach,

A 1930s icon, the Monte-Carlo Beach has continued to evolve and modernise with the times. Today, its eco-friendly restaurant is called Elsa, and its lounge-restaurant, La Vigie, which features live DJ music, evokes the memory of Lagerfeld. Originally designed by architect Roger Séassal, the establishment was revamped in 2009 by architect, scenographer and designer India Mahdavi, using more contemporary designs and colours. “Before, you had to book in advance or you would be lucky to get one of the tents by the shore; now there are almost 170 of them, which is a welcome change. Everything has been democratised, and you no longer have to wear a tie when you go to the Casino de Monte-Carlo or the Hôtel de Paris; Danièle Garcelon, the director of the Monte-Carlo Beach, and Frédérick Thiébaut, the director of the Beach Club, are also ensuring that this magical place stays up to date, and the hotel is now part of the Relais & Châteaux group,” concludes the Monegasque, who is delighted to have recently found pebbles on the beach of this 1930s legend.

1966 – Les célèbres tentes de la plage privée du Monte-Carlo Beach.

By Eve Chatelet