Whether the rich and famous are arriving into Monaco for the Grand Prix or just to begin another long, hot summer holiday on their mega-yacht, they don’t do so by taxi. Even private cars don’t quite cut the mustard in this posh principality, the smallest but chicest country in the world. No, when the A-listers arrive in Monaco, they do so by helicopter. It might sound extravagant – and have everyone who sees it on your Facebook wondering when you won the lottery – but arriving in Monaco by helicopter doesn’t actually break the bank.
Picture the scene: you land at Nice Côte d’Azur Airport, collect your luggage, then make your way to the Monacair desk. There, you are handed your boarding pass and asked to take a seat while someone takes your luggage from you and slips a tag around the handle. You breeze through private security, your luggage carried on ahead for, and hop in a Mercedes for the short drive to the airport’s helipad. Ushered to the helicopter, you climb in – bagging the front seats if you’re quick – and watch as the pilot prepares for take off.
And then, you’re off. It’s an exhilarating seven-minute flight that starts when your helicopter turns to face the Mediterranean Sea, soaring out above it. The seaside ‘sur la mer’ towns of the French Riviera pass by on your left, nothing but the horizon to your right and below your feet. You’d expect the time to fly but it feels so much longer when you’re trying to take in the views and snap some photos all at the same time.
The apartments (Lewis Hamilton is a resident) and yachts of Monaco’s Fontvieille neighbourhood come into view as you approach Monaco Heliport. It’s a thrilling arrival, your pilot well-rehearsed in landing right on the ‘H’. And then your seven minutes are up and you have arrived in Monaco like the millionaires. All that is left to do is hop in the awaiting Mercedes and take in the views as you are chauffeured to your ship. Ah, how the other half live.
The cost? A rather princely €140, that’s around £125 depending on the fluctuating exchange rate and only about £25 more than a taxi from Nice to Monaco will cost you. Now, who says you can’t do Monaco without a millionaire’s budget?