Everyone around the world knows Monaco, even if they haven’t been here before. If you’re a car enthusiast, or car nut as the Americans would put it, you’ve seen this place a million times before. You’ve seen the photographs, the Instagram hashtags, the Facebook posts, the YouTube videos. The Principality of Monaco is something else, somewhere else, and the Top Marques is the perfect embodiment of the country where it’s held year after year since 2004. It’s a show within a show. And you can hardly call it a car show because there’s so much more beyond the cars, watches, sculptures, boats and this year, flying cars as well.
The Grimaldi Forum is hidden in plain sight on Avenue Princesse Grace, next to the Japanese garden. It’s a relatively big venue. You will either approach it from the tunnel, driving anticlockwise (the F1 GP runs clockwise), coming out of which you will be, provided you’re driving a fast/loud/showy car, literally (well, not literally of course) assaulted by the flashes and the eyes of hundreds of cameras. Beware, carspotters. Or you will approach it from the opposite side, with the beachfront and seaside to your left.
The Grimaldi Forum is an oddly-shaped crystal of glasses and your Top Marques experience begins before you even have it in sight because you will hear the noise and the chatter and the cheering of the fans. The outside area is a festival of wooden yachts and you will be welcomed by a glittering Bentley Azure.
The Espace Ravel, upstairs, hosts an array of supercars, one-offs and unique hypercars that most people haven’t even begun to imagine yet. Oh yes, and a Teddy Bear on top of a Lada.
THE TOP MARQUES IS THE PERFECT EMBODIMENT OF MONACO. A SHOW WITHIN A SHOW.
Frangivento Charlotte Part I
Frangivento Charlotte Part II
You need to stay fit and drink one of those energy drinks, I call that *coffee*, like a cure before and after a long and arduous training session because that’s what the Top Marques ultimately is, an incredibly exciting training session. Because you’ll be walking and turning your head and you’ll walk some more and turn your head to look at that supercar while, my oh my, was that a McLaren just driving by? Yes, it was. Chase it. Run. Get it. Jeez! Is this the Frangivento Charlotte? The electric hypercar? Yes, it is. Walk around it, look inside it. It is tiring. And hugely satisfying.
OFF TOPIC – GALA LUNCH ABOARD THE SILVER MUSE
This enormous cruise ship redefines the concept of luxury. 42 lucky souls, including myself, had the amazing opportunity to go for a tour inside the ship and enjoy a Michelin starred lunch on board.
The new flagship, the Silver Muse, is the latest addition to the Silversea Cruises family, the ninth ship to the fleet. Built by Fincantieri in Italy, this huge moving “city” can accommodate 596 guests (plus 411 crew members). The list of activities you can enjoy on board is a saga and it includes the Zàgara SPA and restaurants for whichever dish you may fancy. You can enjoy Asian Fusion cuisine at the Indochine and international cuisine at the Silver Note club, which will take you back in time with its classic Manhattan jazz club vibe. You can travel literally everywhere from the Mediterranean sea to South and North America, Caribbean, Northern Europe and British Isles, Africa and Asia, too. You name it, the Silver Muse is probably already en route. Chacun à son goût, as the French say.
I don’t want to sound like an insurance package salesman but the Top Marques is an experience. An occurrence beyond the show. Most car shows are about what you see, and what you can do and the cars you test (by the way, cars are available for test drive in the pit, just inquire with each respective brand in the Espace Ravel). The Top Marques is different. You see the cars, you live the cars, you drive the cars. Then at night, after the show, you may stop at LÉTÉ Monaco Club for a drink, and the bartender may ask, “how was your day? You’re smiling, sir, what happened today?”. Top Marques HAPPENED.