Breaking the Bank at Monte Carlo

Monte Carlo Casino, Monaco entrance

We first visited Monte Carlo Casino in Monaco with our children and fell in love with the Côte D’Azur. A few years later we set-up house for a month in the old town of Nice. We spent the month explored the region using their excellent public bus service. The buses are luxury coaches and the fare is $2.50 anywhere within a two hour radius.

The bus ride from Nice to Monte Carlo is 40 minutes. We took the bus to Monte Carlo every week to play games of chance at the world famous Monte Carlo Casino. The road is high up on the mountainside overlooking the Mediterranean with a steep drop on the water side. From the high vantage point of a seat in the luxury coach, the view is spectacular.

The Monte Carlo Casino opened in 1861. It is the most famous building in Monaco and worth seeing at some point. The architecture is Art Nouveau that highlights the ornate brick facade with turrets. The interior is ornamental opulence. 

For our last visit to the casino our plan was to gamble then have our afternoon meal at the restaurant in the Monte Carlo Casino. Le Salon Rose is located at the back of the casino with a balcony that overlooks the Mediterranean Sea.

Monte Carlo Casino interior

To enter the Monte Carlo Casino you want to have a players card. The players club desk is located in the Petite Casino next to the Grand Casino. Registration is free with your passport and allows you free entry with a guest to the Grand Casino. If you don’t have a Players Card the entrance is $11 Euro each. During the day, you are allowed to enter wearing business casual but at night formal attire is required.

I don’t gamble so when Loie plays games of chance, I walk around the casino examining the opulent interior and art work. When I get tired of that, I will sit on the patio and have a beverage while I wait. This time I walked back to Le Salon Rose and made our reservation for lunch.

Monte Carlo Casino interior court

Le Salon Rose is a formal French dining room with white table clothes, crystal and period furniture. The servers are dressed in black and white with black vests. The room is quiet and subdued. Lunch is a 4-course set meal that costs about $45 Euros. Lunch with wine for two with service (tip) is about $225 Cdn. 

The food and service was impeccable and we enjoyed our hour and a half dining in this opulent restaurant. We were the only diners. When I called for the bill, the server came. The bill was about $140 Euros and I gave him my credit card and players card. 

I told him that the player club desk told us that there was a 10% discount on all food and beverages consumed with presentation of the players card. He looked at the card and we could see that this was new to him. He excused himself and I saw him walk the length of the restaurant to the house phone. I could see him talking and looking at us. He hung up and walked back to us.

He stopped and formally said, “Mr. and Mrs. Robertson, thank you for dining with us today. We would like to offer your meal with our compliments.” We looked at each other stunned and then back at him. As we tried to not look nonplussed we thanked him and he walked away.

We sat there for a moment looking at each other with raised eyebrows. Quickly we got up and exited the restaurant. Outside Le Salon Rose, we grabbed each other by our shoulders and pushed our faces together whispering to each other how that happened. We quickly walked through the casino looking back.

Descending the front stairs we hurried through the exotic cars always parked in front of the casino. We began running through the park to our bus stop yelling, “Start the car, start the car!”, while running up the hill laughing. We laughed all the way back to Nice.

We will never know why our meal was comped at the Monte Carlo Casino in Monaco. To a budget foodie, hearing, “We would like to offer our compliments on your meal today,” is breaking the bank at Monte Carlo.

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