Luc Pettavino's Guide to Monaco, Presented by Watchonista
Monaco is a microcosm of opulence and grandeur, holding secrets beyond its well-trodden paths. Yet, amidst the glitz and glamor, there are aspects of Monaco still waiting to be discovered. And it is this unconventional perspective that reflects the essence of Luc Pettavino, the famed Monégasque who has redefined the watch industry by transforming timepieces into a means for providing hope and compassion.
As the visionary and humble founder of Only Watch, a biennial charity auction of luxury timepieces made by the world’s finest watchmakers for the advancement of research into Duchenne muscular dystrophy, Luc Pettavino’s affinity for authenticity transcends horology, leading us to explore Monaco in an unprecedented light.
So, with the most awaited event of this year, the upcoming 10th edition of Only Watch, taking place on Sunday, November 5th, 2023, at 14:00 (CET) at Palexpo in Geneva, Watchonista spent some time with Luc Pettavino as he guided us through some hidden Monégasque gems that reflect his ideas of collaboration and balance.
If you want to start your day off right, there is nothing better than some crusty bread. Luckily, nestled in the charming village of La Turbie, just a stone’s throw from Monaco, (while driving up there, enjoy the unique view on the Mediterranean sea) lies Ma Première Boulangerie – a haven of artisanal delights with an excellent grinding wheel with special sourdough.
Only about a 15-minute drive from the Principality, the aroma of freshly baked bread, pastries, and treats that waft through the air from the Ma Première Boulangerie rarely fails to entice visitors to experience the labor of love that goes into each creation.
If you'd prefer to start your day on foot, another traditional and sustainable bakery, Mitron Bakery, is located in the heart of the Condamine market in Monaco. Created and lead by three Michelin-star chef Mauro Colagreco, with a focus on using ancient wheat, every tasty morsel from Mitron is a delight!
An Oldie but a Goodie
When visiting Monaco, one cannot help being drawn to the legendary Café de Paris Monte-Carlo. Featuring top-quality brasserie cuisine in a historic yet warm and tranquil atmosphere, this iconic establishment has witnessed countless glamorous moments and is synonymous with sophistication.
Le Café de Paris is currently being renovated (and will be for the next few months) and extended. In the meantime, it has taken up residence in the Empire Room of the Hôtel de Paris. However, its usual space in the hotel, an incredible terrace overlooking the casino and opera house, is a pure Baroque marvel.
5-Star Beach Area
Beyond Monaco’s famed casinos and luxury ateliers lies a world where you can unwind during the week without leaving the city - Plage du Larvotto, the beach offering swimming, strolling, and shaded areas, all in a pure and minimalist atmosphere. Redesigned by worldwide architectural heavyweight Renzo Piano, who was awarded the Pritzker Prize in 1998 and has designed buildings such as the Centre Pompidou or London’s The Shard, this place should never go unnoticed.
Seeking Solace: Unconventional Gardens
The former, which is located on the Boulevard de Jardin Exotique, offers a vista of the city among dozens of century-old olive trees, a metaphor for his visionary perspective, while the latter, located on the Avenue de la Madone, provides respite and reflection while contemplating rare exotic trees. Just as Pettavino revolutionized people’s perceptions about the power of watchmaking, these gardens challenge our understanding of Monaco’s allure.
These culinary gems promise a delightful gastronomic experience for only €25-30 at lunchtime. Moreover, you can savor their delectable dishes while soaking in the ambiance of a quintessential French bistro for the former and escape to Morocco and India for the latter. They are the perfect places to unwind and enjoy the flavors of Monaco like so many more addresses of international cuisine in the Principality
A Land of Research & Creation
Amidst the bustling city, finding moments of serenity is essential for mental and creative well-being. Fortunately, Monaco is full of fantastic museums (NMNM - Nouveau Musée National de Monaco), exceptional exhibitions (Monet in Full Light at the Grimaldi Forum), art galleries, and Logoscope is definitely an offbeat offering.
It is a genuine research and creation laboratory in the principality of Monaco that brings together resident artists to experiment and develop so-called current artistic practices favoring language crossovers, sharing of knowledge as well as collaborative forms.
Secluded Pebbles and Secrets
A fitting parallel to Pettavino’s enigmatic nature, the secret beach at the tip of Le Rocher, beneath the imposing Fort Antoine and only reachable via an inconspicuous stairway, is a whisper among the waves, known only to the discerning few.
Comprised of pebbles instead of sand, it’s small, and all you can see is the Mediterranean. But when you turn around, you can see the counterforts of the Rocher de Monaco and Fort Antoine, as well as a few succulent plants. It is a hidden gem that will allow you to perceive beauty beyond the surface.
Elevate Your Experience
Monaco’s unique geography means that the city has many different levels for you to explore. As a result, Pettavino’s advice is to leave your car behind and embrace a more sustainable mode of transportation – public bicycles.
However, if you wish to feel yourself a true Monégasque, start learning how to navigate the city’s elevation changes with the help of elevators to move seamlessly between the various levels. Following this advice will offer you an eco-friendly way to explore and present you with a fascinating perspective on Monaco’s urban layout.