Monaco, a luxury paradise opulently anchored at Port Hercules on the Côte d’Azur, has been a seaside tax haven and magnet for bon viveurs for decades.

Every May, its streets metamorphose into a sanctuary for rich thrill seekers as racing cars, their engines screaming, rip through the narrow and twisted streets of the principality’s capital and only city, Monte Carlo. The Formula 1 Grand Prix, in racing terms more show than go, is one of Europe’s premier social highlights.

With its wealthy inhabitants, famous casino and scandal and tragedy-hit royal family, Monaco is a separate nation with a unique history and a culture that are most clearly apparent in the mediaeval heart of Monaco-Ville, also known as “Le Rocher” or “the rock”, which abounds with scrumptious Monegasque cuisine that can be enjoyed throughout the year.

Follow the Mediterranean coastline, which boasts several other scenic villages within easy reach, including the French towns of ÈzeNiceCannes, and Saint Tropez, or set course inland, to the east, for the charming tree-lined boulevards of Aix-en-Provence, which is popular for its splendid mansions, classical stone fountains, and ancient thermal springs.