For a few days each May, the luxurious harbor of the tiny city-state of Monaco is transformed into a playground for the fastest racecars on earth. Auto enthusiasts can see iconic racecars at the harbor year-round – including the formidable Bugatti T35B machine that won the first edition of the Monaco Grand Prix in 1929.
In the summer of 2022, the Car Collection of the Prince of Monaco relocated to its new harborside location beside the Rainier III Nautical Stadium. Both attractions are named after the same individual: Prince Rainier III, who presided over the tiny principality on the Côte d'Azur from 1949 until his death in 2005. His extensive car collection comprises of 70 cars from all eras, styles, and purposes, ranging from century-old antiques to recent Monaco Grand Prix winners.
To Prince Rainier, the cars were more than just showpieces: he assembled and maintained a number of his antiques, which the new museum stations on its lower level. The upper level houses the favored machines of Prince Albert, Rainier's son and the current prince of Monaco, who inherited the same passion for speed and craftsmanship that his father possessed. Like the principality itself, the museum has a cosmopolitan flavor, with Italian, French, German, British, and American cars on display.
Though the Grimaldi family owns most of the collection, a few notable vehicles were loaned to the museum, including the Toyota Yaris WRC, with which Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia won the 2021 Monte Carlo Rally.
Ferrari Formula One star Charles Leclerc is a native of Monaco, and you’ll find his 2019 Ferrari SF-90 F1 car and the 2018 Alfa Romeo C37, his first F1 car, at the museum, where they head up a line of iconic F1 machines.
The museum is mostly there to display rather than entertain. Go in, marvel for a few hours, take photos and leave with your interest piqued.
While the curators have cordoned off the cars to prevent eager beavers from damaging their finely maintained interiors, visitors can tap and swipe their way through history with the multilingual touchscreen displays, which explain the stories behind the cars via videos projected throughout the museum. Those interested in the mechanical genius behind Prince Rainier's cars can peer into the workshop on the lower level, where restoration and maintenance work is ongoing. And before leaving to explore other Monaco attractions like the casino or the cliffside gardens, visitors can stop in the gift shop to buy a souvenir or two.
- The "ancestors of the automobile" like the 1911 Humber Beeston or the 1903 De Dion Bouton Type R.
- A trio of 1927 Rolls Royce cars, including one gifted to the museum by watch magnate Yves Piaget.
- A bright red Isetta, or bubble car, by the staircase.
- A Ferrari 640 from the 1989 F1 season.
- The Lexus LS 600h Landaulet L that took Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene to their wedding in 2011.
For relatively low price, you can get a priceless first-hand look at how the luxury automobile has grown over time.