Whilst Monaco’s food identity is not one to be widely known, there are plenty of fun food facts that make the Principality an ultra-special destination for any foodie traveller.
Some 139 different nationalities rub shoulders and Monaco’s cosmopolitan atmosphere is reflected in the menus of its restaurants.
Fascinating and delicious, here is some trivia behind Monaco’s gourmet offering:
• Alain Ducasse’s Louis XV at Hotel de Paris Celebrates 35 years
On 27 May 1987, the Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo entrusted the kitchens of the Louis XV to Alain Ducasse. It proved an excellent choice, with the venue going on to become the first luxury hotel in the world to earn three Michelin stars, in 1990. A stellar treble that the iconic Hotel still proudly holds today. In June 2022, Alain Ducasse has entrusted Emmanuel Pilon as Head Chef taking over from Franck Cerutti who is retiring after 23 years of incredible service.
Learn more: www.montecarlosbm.com
• World’s Largest Hotel Wine Cellar at Hotel de Paris
Wine Cellar Hotel de Paris © Monte-Carlo Société des Bains de Mer
The spirit of excellence extends underground to the Wine Cellars of the Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo ,. Created beneath the hotel in 1874 and modelled on a Bordeaux wine cellar, housing some 350,000 bottles laid down on over a kilometre and a half of racks, and include no fewer than 3,700 exceptional vintages. For those in search of the truly memorable, this rare and private place offers tasting sessions or even fine dinners like no other. The Wine Cellars of the Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo can seat up to 40 diners in a specially created reception room. In 1976, H.S.H. Prince Rainier and H.S.H. Princess Grace celebrated their twentieth wedding anniversary here.
Learn more about Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo’s intriguing wine cellar:
• Tall Tales & True
Crepe Suzette © Monte-Carlo Société des Bains de Mer
Two of the most illustrious names in the history of the hotel and restaurant industry met in Monaco. In 1884, César Ritz, manager of the Monte-Carlo Grand Hôtel et Continental invited a certain Auguste Escoffier to join the hotel’s kitchens. The creator of the Peach Melba, the man widely considered to be the world’s first international celebrity chef is also- incorrectly - assumed to have invented the Crêpe Suzette.
It was, however, just a short distance away from the now-defunct Grand Hôtel that the iconic dessert was born... somewhat fortuitously. The Prince of Wales, the future King Edward VII of England, was having lunch at the Café de Paris , where he was often to be found in those days. As Chef Carpentier was preparing crêpes drizzled with liqueur at the Prince’s table, the contents of the pan unexpectedly caught fire. The astonished Prince of Wales asked the Chef for the recipe. Unwilling to admit his error, the Chef replied that the recipe had been specially created for the occasion, and suggested naming the dish “Prince’s crêpes”. The Prince of Wales instead gallantly proposed that the delicious dessert be named in honour of his dining companion, Suzette.
• A Royal Treat
Soufflé chaud et granité au pamplemousse d'ici
© Monte-Carlo Société des Bains de Mer
The Principality and the Côte d’Azur are teeming with local specialities and ingredients used to make delicious dishes. Do you know which dishes are most popular with the Prince’s Family? While they particularly appreciate regional products made with fruit, vegetables, and fish, one of their big favourites is lemon pound cake from the neighbouring town of Menton. A beautifully sweet delicacy with a citrus aroma that was always a treat for Princess Caroline’s children, Charlotte, Andrea and Pierre Casiraghi, when they were young.
• Bitter to Sweet
Every year, in the deepest winter, a timeless ritual can be seen in the streets of Monaco. The gardeners of the Principality collect bitter oranges from the trees that grow throughout the city. For decades, over 500 trees have been harvested this way annually, to ensure the fruit does not fall and rot in the street. It is a tradition familiar to the residents, who are invited to come and help themselves to the fruit. The majority of the oranges harvested (over 3 tonnes annually in recent years) are sent to l’Orangerie , a distillery that uses its savoir-faire to marvellous effect, making an all-Monegasque, completely natural liqueur!
• Much beloved Christmas Bread
One of the Principality’s most cherished culinary traditions is the Pan de Natale. Blessed once by families or at the Cathedral during Christmas Eve Mass, the Pan de Natale (or Christmas Bread) is a large home-baked loaf, on which between four and seven small walnuts are laid in the shape of a cross (a sign of faith), along with an olive branch (a symbol of peace), and an orange or lemon branch (a symbol of the abundant local produce). On Christmas night, the bread is placed on the table and blessed by the eldest or youngest present, with the following words: “May evil begone and righteousness come, with the aid of God and this olive branch. ”