In 2011, my husband and I ticked off a Bucket List item and attended the Monaco GP. And our 18-month old son came along for the ride. Below is everything I have learnt, so that you can do it to, should you be that way inclined.
ACCOMODATION AND GETTING TO THE CIRCUIT
For cheaper and quieter accommodation options than staying in Monaco or Nice have a look at the towns between the two cities, along the SNCF train line. We stayed in a quaint hotel in the town called Beaulieu-sur-Mer, but there are a couple of other choices as well.
Beaulieu-sur-Mer suited us nicely because in addition to the train line, there was also a grocery store, a number of restaurants to choose from, and a public beach approximately 100 metres walk from our hotel. So if the weather is nice you can a have a swim in the Mediterranean Sea and tick off another Bucket List experience.
There are two train stations between Beaulieu-sur-Mer and Monaco and from memory the train trip only took about 15 minutes, but is goes quickly because you will be looking out the window at the beautiful coastline that you are travelling along. In 2011 the trip cost less than €10 return for two adults.
TICKETS TO THE MONACO GP
We looked at a variety of ticket options suitable for a toddler, from private balconies to the La Rascasse bar. What we wanted was a position where we could leave during the race if our son was really not enjoying himself, so that we did not disturb our fellow GP fans.
We eventually settled on tickets in the grandstand called T1 opposite the pits. We bought tickets along the back row where we would be under the cover provided by the media boxes above us. This way we did not have to worry about being burnt to a crisp if it was hot or getting wet if it was raining.
The view from the seats is just fantastic, you can watch the entire goings on in the pit lane and there are screens directly opposite so you know what is going on around the rest of the track as well. You can see the crowds hanging out of the balconies above the main straight and all the people in the general admission area sitting on the side of the hill above the outside of Rascasse.
An added bonus of these seats is you can turn around and look back towards the harbour and admire the millions of dollars of boating extravagance when there is no action on the track. But, on the downside a cold breeze does blow off the harbour, so make sure you take a jacket, even if it is warm.
In 2011, when you bought weekend tickets we got free tickets for Thursday in any grandstand of our choice. We chose Casino Square, so we could watch the cars going through that iconic corner for some once in our lifetime photographs, like the one at the top of this article.
The only website where you can pick the exact seats you want is direct from the Automobile Club de Monaco. It also means that you are not paying a middle-man to handle you tickets for you. In 2011 each adult ticket cost around €700 for the weekend and €350 for the child ticket. We were not required to purchase a ticket for our son, but we did so anyway because we wanted him to have his own seat, I explain why below.
TODDLER SPECIFIC REQUIREMENTS
You will do a lot of walking and Monaco is on the side of the cliff, so it can be hard going in places. Taking a pram is not an option, so we brought a backpack for our son to travel in. This meant that he was high above the crowd and not in any danger of being separated from us.
The added bonus of the backpack was we were able to secure it to the rail behind our seat, so that our son had a comfortable place to sleep if he wanted to. And yes he did sleep, through the whole race almost.
He was able to sleep because we had swimming style earplugs for him to wear. We also took earmuffs, but he didn’t like to keep them on, which is what we had expected. So the earplugs are a must because he could not take them out himself.
The backpack is also good because it has a compartment that you can fill with snacks and water for you and your toddler. You can also purchase healthy rolls and drinks from places directly under the grandstand and if you leave the grandstand before the session ends and head back out from the circuit you will find many restaurants to eat at, without having to wait for long to be seated.
There are also plenty of toilets directly under the grandstands that are kept very clean throughout the day.
THE ACTUAL MONACO GP EXPERIENCE
If you ever have the opportunity to attend the Monaco GP, I implore you to do it. It really is another world, in terms of how the other half live and the cars they drive. You will get a sore neck from car spotting when you are walking around the town.
I have been there also when the GP was not on and even then the place just oozed the most expensive, rare, car exotica that we only dream about seeing here in Australia.
The 2011 race was getting a bit exciting towards the end with Vettel, Alonso, and Button battling for the lead. But with 15 laps or so to go Hamilton, Sutil, Alguersuari, and Petrov tripped over each other coming through the swimming pool corner. Petrov hit the barrier, was briefly trapped in his car, and the race was red flagged. When the race restarted it was a procession to the finish, with Vettel taking the victory.
The absolute highlight for me was ‘talking’ to Michael Schumacher across the track after the race. I yelled out ‘I still love you Michael’, to which he smiled and waved at me. It was the last time I ever saw Michael race live and I will forever cherish that experience above all the others over that weekend.
So yes, you can do the Monaco GP with a toddler and you will still have a fantastic time as well. I wish that I had this level of information when I was planning our trip as it would have saved a lot of worry before we got there.
If there is anything else you want to know, please leave a comment and I will do my best to assist you.