“…I prefer good memories to regrets. …” – Grace Kelly. Would you like to escape the chaos of modus operandi for a while, go on an adventure, click some Polaroids, and make some memories?
The bus that takes our protagonist, Grace, her friend Emma, and her sister Meg, on their Parisian trip, travels pretty fast, but we can take our time on this flight of fancy.
Join Wego as we take the beautiful Parisian route as seen in the movie Monte Carlo based on the novel Headhunter by Jules Bass, and perhaps we will find our way to Monte Carlo as well. Even if your travel buddies cannot join you, discover the enchantment of forging new friendships along the way.
While meeting your doppelganger might remain a whimsical possibility, let the spirit and allure of the places we’ll explore on this whimsical escapade work their magic, adding a touch of alchemy to the tapestry of your memory lane.
Our first stop is at Notre Dame Cathedral, also known as Notre Dame de Paris or Our Lady of Paris. This Gothic marvel stands as a symbol of Paris and France’s architectural prowess. Originating in the 12th century, Notre Dame took 300 years to build, showcasing a blend of French Gothic, Renaissance, and Naturalism styles.
Within its walls, the cathedral boasts extensive displays of Neo-Gothic artwork. Daily masses, open to tourists, are conducted thrice a day. Operating hours are 10 AM to 12:30 PM and 2:30 PM to 7 PM from Monday to Saturday, with Sunday hours from 3 PM to 7 PM.
Notre Dame is set to welcome visitors again after the 2019 fire later this year on 9 December 2024. There’s no entrance fee to the cathedral. Nonetheless, you need to pay EUR 10 to access the tower and crypt in Notre Dame.
Embarking on the next leg of our adventure, we encounter the Gothic sibling to Notre Dame – none other than Paris’ illustrious lady of iron, La Tour Eiffel, or the Eiffel Tower. This Parisian dream, a brainchild of the French government, emerged as a centennial celebration marvel for the International Exposition of 1889, marking the 100th year of the French Revolution. Initially a crowd-puller, it swiftly transcended into a global muse for artists, evolving into an icon of modernity and avant-garde during the 1920s.
Venturing through its four floors, the ground level at 57 meters offers a unique subterranean perspective, while 330 steps lead to the first level, granting both respite and a transparent view of the bustling forecourt. An elevator from this point seamlessly transports you to the second level at 115 meters, presenting a panoramic spectacle of the City of Love. It is here that Grace, Emma, and Meg soak in the awe-inspiring vista, with Grace deftly pointing out the Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre, Sacré-Cœur, and the Grand Palais.
Ascending further, 670 steps unveil the second level, providing a 360-degree visual feast of Paris. To reach the summit at 300 meters, an elevator awaits, ushering you into Gustav Eiffel’s private office, a champagne bar, and an unparalleled bird’s eye view of Paris.
Sitting pretty on the Right Bank of the Seine is the Louvre Museum or Musée du Louve. It is housed in part of the Louvre Palace, which dates back to the 12th century. The Louvre Museum dates back to 1793 and houses some of the most famous and important works of Western art, including the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, the Raft of the Medusa, etc.
Grace, Emma, and Meg do not get to spend much time at the Louvre, but you can spend an entire day there marveling at the art and enjoying the serenity. In the words of singer-songwriter Ella O’Connor, “…they will hang us in the Louvre. Down the back, but who cares? It’s still the Louvre. …”.
And if you want to take a break from world-famous art and escape into nature, the Tuileries Garden waits for you in all its glory. The guided tours of the Louvre’s Masterpieces are available every day of the week sans Tuesday. Wego recommends that you book tickets in advance from their official website to ensure a comfortable day at the museum.
Perched atop Montmartre like a whimsical crown, the Basilica of Sacré-Cœur de Montmartre, or simply Sacré-Cœur, stands as a poetic ode to the sacred heart of Jesus and a majestic Roman Catholic haven in Paris. The National Commission of Patrimony and Architecture formally anointed Sacré-Cœur as a national historic monument of France on December 8, 2022, adding another layer of prestige to its venerable existence.
Defying the very laws of physics, Sacré-Cœur reigns supreme at 83 meters above, its foundation anchored by 83 wells delving 38 meters into the earth, fashioning a solid pedestal amidst the limestone and gypsum-rich Montmartre soil. Despite the challenges posed by these softer rocks, the basilica, born in 1914, wears the cloak of time gracefully, a pristine marvel a century later.
Take respite on the steps of Sacré-Cœur, basking in sunlight while soaking in the panoramic splendor. Venture inside to immerse yourself in a colossal mosaic, the harmonious tones of the Cavaillé-Coll organ, and an array of treasures tucked away in crypts. For the adventurous souls willing to climb 234 steps to the basilica’s dome, two enchanting surprises await.
Behold La Savoyarde, France’s most renowned bell, defying gravity as it swings atop the mountain, its 19-ton weight suspended in a dance with the heavens. The second marvel unfolds as you gaze through binoculars, revealing a panoramic tapestry of Paris – from La Défense to the Montparnasse Tower, the Panthéon, the Bois de Vincennes, the Buttes-Chaumont, and the regal Basilica of Saint-Denis.
Sacré-Cœur graciously opens its doors to all, a timeless invitation, free of charge, from 6:30 AM to 10:30 PM daily. Step into this ethereal sanctuary where history, art, and the heartbeat of Paris converge!
Hungarian State Opera House
Hungary played host to the captivating scenes of the Monte Carlo movie, with the elegant backdrop of the Hotel Grand Belle unfolding at the Hungarian State Opera House. Nestled in Budapest, this architectural gem, alternatively known as the Hungarian Royal Opera House, stands as a paramount artistic treasure. Ranking as the second-largest opera house in Hungary, it adds a touch of grandeur to the cinematic narrative.
Beyond its role on the silver screen, the Opera House is the proud venue for the Budapest Opera Ball, a tradition tracing its roots back to 1886. Throughout the year, its hallowed halls resonate with a symphony of events, featuring a diverse array of concerts – from classical to modern, enchanting ballet performances, and even the mesmerizing spectacle of Cirque du Soleil.
The journey from Hotel Grande Belle to Monte Carlo in the film is a matter of happenstance that can be said to be partially consciously orchestrated, but on this flight of fancy, let’s go to Monte Carlo on purpose. Monte Carlo is located at the base of the Maritime Alps along the French Riviera. Along with the most quaint fairytale-like views, Monte Carlo is also home to the Place du Casino, Hôtel de Paris, Café de Paris and Salle Garnier.
Hôtel de Paris
Nestled in the opulent embrace of Place du Casino, the Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo stands as a lavish testament to luxury and timeless elegance. A jewel in Monaco’s crown, this sumptuous hotel was meticulously crafted in 1864 as part of the visionary development of the principality by the Société des Bains de Mer.
In the cinematic realm, Grace, Emma, and Meg grace the silver screen from the regal confines of the Grimaldi Suite at Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo. While this suite may exist solely in the realms of fantasy, the doors of real-world indulgence await. You, too, can script your own tale of luxury by booking a stay at Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo. Revel in the lap of opulence, where breathtaking views and unparalleled hospitality promise an experience that transcends the ordinary!
Avenue Princesse Grace, Monaco-Ville, Monaco
Avenue Princess Grace is said to be the most expensive road in the world. It is an avenue in the Larvotto ward of Monaco and is named after Grace Kelly, Princess Consort of Monaco. We get a glimpse of this luxurious road when Meg meets Riley at the seaside on this very road.
We get glimpses of several other avenues littered around Monaco-Ville as the movie progresses and the characters with the adventure they at first hesitated to be on. Before the movie ends, Riley offers Meg to go on a backpacking trip with him around the world and mentions that they could hike and set up a tent in Tuscany. We have a guide waiting for you if you too, want to take a quick trip to Tuscany.
The movie ends with Selena Gomez’s song Who Says, and this is us reminding you that “… you’ve got every right to a beautiful life. …”, so don’t be afraid to step out on an adventure once in a while.