Now this is a story all about how my life got flipped-turned upside down and i’d like to take a minute just sit right there i’ll tell you how I my weekend in Monaco had me floating in the air. Please excuse that cheesy start to the story but I wanted to start it off a little different. Any who as alluded to in the first sentence I have recently been to Monaco courtesy of the great people over at G.H.Mumm Champagne. This trip though was no ordinary trip because for those who don’t know Mumm are one of the sponsors for Formula One otherwise known as F1. Why does this matter? well this particular weekend trip would enable me to experience my first ever live Grand Prix at one of the most iconic circuits in the world. Not too bad for a guy who sits behind a screen writing features in spare time right? Apologies in advance if the following induces mass jealousy, envy and awe but this was for journalistic purposes, I done it for you guys, honest! haha.
I woke up on the morning of Friday 21st May with an unusual wave of excitement, for those that know me they know that I don’t really get super excited over things rather just let things happen and then look back fondly on the memories, however this day was different. I quickly brought myself back down to earth and returned to my calm nature as soon as my phone rang, it was my taxi driver telling me he was outside waiting for me. Having not packed properly the night before I quickly threw the last few items in my bag, zipped it up and left. Now i’m going to skip the whole car journey to the station and even the train journey itself, although I will mention that Business Class on the Eurostar is quite nice and the food they serve is surprisingly decent oh and that I spent nearly the whole journey sitting next to three people who were heading to Paris for the very same reason I was but we didn’t realise this until we were basically getting off the train.
Fast forward to Paris! I arrived in Paris and was taken to a car that was to drive a few hours to le Moulin de Verzenay in Remis where we (all who had been invited on this trip) were greeted with a welcome cocktail, a few food treats and a speech which gave us a little insight into the history of Mumm. After this we jumped back in the car and departed for l’Assiette Champenoise.
The food at l’Assiette Champenoise was to die for. Now i’m not a huge fish fan, in fact I can say that I don’t actually really like fish at all but this lunch was full of it and I ate it all. I guess when you have a chef that really knows what he’s doing then he can make anything taste good. It also helped that we had a fair few glasses of Champagne to was it all down.
After the wonderful food we were treated to a tour around the cellar where they keep the Champagne. The cellar was a huge underground maze that basically resembled some sort of level in a computer gamer or something. It was dark, a little chilly and stretched for what seemed like miles and miles. It was interesting to learn about the process of how they remove the yeast from the Champagne by hand, of which we we given a demonstration from an older gentleman who had been working in the cellar for probably as long as I’ve been born. Following the cellar tour we were then whisked off see where they put the finishing touches to each bottle. Again this is all done by hand, we got to try our best at labeling but don’t worry i highly doubt some of our disastrous attempts will be released for the world to see. Once the tour came to an end it is time to jump back in our cars and head to the airport – destination Nice, where our hotel would be. At this point I think everybody was ready for bed.
We arrived at the hotel pretty late at night and because I was tired I didn’t really take the time to admire my surroundings too much although i did have time to grab a bite to eat before heading to bed. The next morning I woke up and headed down to the breakfast area where we greeted by another speech but this time it was delivered by a racing veteran. I tried to pay close attention however I was distracted by the beauty of my surroundings. The hotel and its grounds were simply stunning. Sidenote: If you ever visit Nice then I would suggest staying at the Grand Hotel du Cap-Ferrat.
If the trip wasn’t already amazing enough things were about to get that much more amazing, it was F1 time. Jumping in our ride for the day, a speed boat – yes this is how they travel out there, we turned up ready for the qualifying session. Before this though we were given the VIP treatment and were granted access to walk the pit lane. At this point everything seemed so surreal. I mean walking the pit lane watching the engineers work on the cars getting the ready for the showdown that was about to take place was one thing but then you had drivers just casually walking around, the Sky F1 team working and doing their thing. It was was a bit crazy and hectic but somehow in a controlled manner. Following our pit lane extravaganza we were taken by yet another boat to the Paddock Club where we sat down for lunch. The qualifying session began while we were eating but it was fine because we had TV screens in pretty much every direction we looked so it was difficult to miss a thing. Better yet though I was able to leave my table, head outside to the terrace and see the cars zooming past and at such an iconic part of the track too – we were based right as the cars exit the famous Monaco tunnel.
The qualifying session ended and we quickly descended to our hotel to chill for a few hours and freshen up before the nights antics began. Such antics included a beach party at sunset which was pretty decent if i do say so myself followed by a party on the Mumm yacht where they had Mark Ronson officially launch their latest Champagne bottled called Connected Magnum. At this point i’d like to mention that this was the reason why we had all been invited on this trip.
he connected Magnum offers an enhanced moment of celebration that is inspired by the thrill and emotion of the world’s most recognized moment of celebration, the Formula One® podium moment, of which Mumm has been at the heart since the beginning of its partnership in 2000. The moment the cork is popped from this connected Magnum a sensor links to a receiver in the venue’s audio and visual system triggering an interactive sound and visual experience that can be personalised by each prestigious nightclub that will host this offering.
The yacht party was great and we were treated to a performance by Mark Ronson’s wife and her band which was pretty sweet. I think the thing that stood out for me at that point was watching Mark and seeing how proud of his girl he was, it was cute. Any who moving away from that mushy moment once the yacht party began drawing to a close it was time to make a decision. Did I want to go back to the hotel at that point or keep the party going at a nearby night club (VIP Room Club) where we had an area reserved for us. It was a no brainer, I obviously chose to go to bed! For those that know me they know that was a lie, how could I pass up the chance to keep on partying, so party on is what we did. At this point i could rack up a list of celebrity names that I saw during the course of the weekend but it’s not necessary. The only person I feel I should mention is 1 Direction’s Liam Payne, he gets a mention because he was at the same club and somehow I ended up at his table dancing the night away with him. He a cool guy.
The next morning it was a struggle to get up but I expected it since I didn’t leave the club until about 4 or 5 am. It was fine though because I’d be spending the day back on the yacht relaxing with champagne in hand, great food and the race live right in front of me. Once the race was done it was home time and by home I mean it was time to leave the life of luxury behind and return to my humble dwellings back in London.
The whole weekend was pretty spectacular and i’m thankful for the experience. Not only for the mouth watering, envy inducing F1 experience but the opportunity to learn more about the history of the brand. Learning things like the fact that all of their champagne rest in the cellar for at least 3 years before being released for consumption , some rest for as long as 10 years, contributed in an understated yet substantial way making the whole experience a well rounded voyage (see what i did there, adding the French touch at the end haha).