Springtime in Paris may be celebrated in song, but, in my opinion, late September is the best time for travel in Europe. That’s particularly true of the Principality of Monaco, an exclusive enclave nestled along the northern shore of the Mediterranean between France and Italy. The August holiday crowds have long since gone home, the stifling summer heat has cooled a bit, and the better restaurants once again have prime tables available.
If you’re a yacht lover, the trip can go from merely delightful to absolutely sublime by taking a day-or four-to visit the Monaco Yacht Show. It runs from Wednesday, September 21, through Saturday, September 24 this year and is held at picturesque Port Hercule in Monte Carlo.
Many of those in the know consider the Monaco show, now in its 15th year, to be one of the world’s best for everything to do with superyachting. One of the reasons is its focus squarely on large yachts-the smallest this year is 70 feet, the largest well over 200 feet. There are no runabouts or midsize family cruisers, so there are no distractions. And, although the show has grown to fill much of the harbor and its quays, its physical size remains manageable for those wanting to take in the entire spectacle.
There’s also an attendance level that some shows would consider low, approximately 22,000 persons over the show’s four-day run, but this only ensures a very pleasant experience. The show’s venue, coupled with a ticket price of 40 euros (about $50) per day, keeps away those who aren’t serious about their boats. You’ll enjoy not having to wade through a sea of Bubbas sporting “Git ‘er done tanktops and munching on a dripping plate of cheese fries. On the other hand, you may need to step aside as the royal golf cart and accompanying security detachment makes its annual tour of the show. HSH Prince Rainier III, who died earlier this year, was an enthusiastic yachtsman and patron of the show, a passion shared by his son and heir, HSH Prince Albert II, who often joined him on tours of several yachts at the show each year.
Don’t let the show’s relatively compact dimensions mislead you into thinking that you’ll be shortchanged. The exhibitor list runs to 530 companies from 34 nations, including 95 yacht builders, 55 naval architects and designers, and 40 brokers. There are numerous equipment suppliers, repair/refit yards, and consultant companies for such things as financing, registry, crew management and technical assistance. There is also a large in-water display of tenders, slow and fast, modern and classic, and everything in between.
In addition to the marine exhibitors, there is a considerable presence of luxury goods companies that are of interest to the typical well-heeled show attendee. Suppliers of fine linens, china, and crystal-both Baccarat and Lalique will be there-can fulfill orders for use aboard and at home. There is a seemingly endless display of collector-quality watches, fine pens and exquisite jewelry, and if you can’t find it at the show, it’s a very short walk to the myriad nearby Monte Carlo shops with their dazzling window displays.
If you plan to extend your European trip outside the principality, stop by the Maybach display to try out the plush leather recliners in the rear of their extended super-sedan. And if your road trip tastes run more to speed than comfort, take a look at the Bugatti Veyron, a curvaceous 1,000-horsepower, $1 million two-seater that will take you faster than human beings were meant to go without breaking free of the bounds of gravity. For that feat, several suppliers can furnish helicopters for your yacht and business jets for use elsewhere.
A Sampler of the New Yachts on Display – Farmont 70′ Med Adventure Sunseeker 82′ & 105′ Pershing 88′ Southern Wind/Farr Nauta 95′ (sail) Kaisewerft Baron 102′ Perfect Harmony Benetti 115′ Classic & 184′ Riva 115′ CNB 117′ Taransay (sail) Mondomarine 132′ Baglietto 138′ ISA 154′ White Lie Oceanco 204′ Lürssen 207′ Ariel
Monaco Yacht Show By the Numbers – 130,000 square feet of carpet, mostly red 112,000 square feet of interior display area 40,000 feet of temporary electric cable 21,000 visitors in 2004 1,300 potted plants 530 total exhibitors 95 yacht builder displays 93 superyachts afloat 55 yacht designer displays 40 broker displays 35 world premiere superyacht introductions
The Essentials – What: Monaco Yacht Show Where: Port Hercule, Principality of Monaco When: Wednesday, September 21, through Saturday, September 24, 2005 How much: Entry fee 40 Euro (approx. $50/day) Show and hotel info: www.monacoyachtshow.com Weather: Averages high 74F, low 67F, monthly precipitation 4 days Arrival: Nice (France) airport, then to Monaco via Heli Air Monaco (www.heliairmonaco.com), or by rental car; train service also available Dining: There’s an air-conditioned dining area within the show, but we prefer to step out to one of the many sidewalk cafés that line the waterfront boulevards. Survival tips: Leave your car at your hotel-parking near the show is non-existent; wear comfortable shoes-though taxis and shuttle cars are plentiful, demand is high, so you may choose walking instead of riding.