a pink diving board, a pool, parasols and deckchairs
There may be more exclusive places on the islands near Cannes and in the bays around St Tropez and Capri, but summer isn’t summer without a little fix at the Monte Carlo Beach Club

If you are planning on visiting the French Riviera this summer and haven’t haven’t managed to book yourself a super prime villa or a suite at one of the luxury hotels, never fear. The Riviera is made or broken by your daytime waterside experiences and for that there is no place better than the newly refreshed Monte Carlo Beach Club.

Grey and wooden umbrellas and deckchairs on a beach

Ostensibly a part of the adjoining Monte Carlo Beach hotel, which sits on a rock overlooking the bay, the town and the mountains beyond, this huge complex combining an outdoor Olympic swimming pool, extensive terrace areas and cabanas, watersports and restaurants is open to any guests staying at the prestigious hotels owned by the Societé des Bains de Mer which runs most of the hospitality in Monte Carlo.

white umbrellas tables and chairs on a terrace overlooking the sea

But a little-known secret is that this social hub of the area is also open to all comers who book in advance and pay a daily fee. At €170 per person it’s a fraction of what you would pay for staying in a hotel nearby.

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So what do you get? A recent visit showed the facilities to be among the best, if not the best, of the entire Riviera. As well as the huge pool, with a separate lane for swimmers doing lengths, and two diving boards, vigilantly policed by lifeguards, there are lounges all around the pool and, more exclusively, cabanas on the lower terrace between the pool and the sea. You can also go parasailing, jet skiing or waterskiing and give yourself a booster of Domaine Ott rosé along with a tuna salad at the Terrace restaurant.

An orange building with a green tree in front of it

All of which makes for an excellent day or three out. But that’s not the whole story. When we have meetings with Monaco residents in summer, they tend to be at the beach club. Either on the terrace restaurant, or in the cabanas themselves. People-watching should be done subtly here so it doesn’t mark you out as a tourist.

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And please, no taking pictures of celebrity billionaires. But they are there, either chilling out for a day’s rest from the yacht, or taking a few hours out between meetings at the office, or simply on a day out with their family because their boat doesn’t have a swimming pool quite as big as this – nowhere else in the region does.

Grey and wooden umbrellas and deckchairs on a beach

The flipside is that, if you already know people down here, this is not the place to go unless you want to see and be seen. We were accosted four times by friends and business contacts and invited to various combinations of lunch, drinks and boat outings, when all we were trying to do was take advantage of the sports facilities and get some proper exercise. But whether you use it as a social or leisure destination, there’s nothing quite like it.

Find out more: montecarlosbm.com/monte-carlo-beach-club