23 Nov 2015

Casino de Monte Carlo - Salle Médecin

Ever since Dr. No, Bond has been synonymous with gambling, casinos and luxury, and there is probably no other place that is more associated with casinos than Monaco. Nevertheless, it would take over 30 years before Bond visited the famous Casino de Monte Carlo in the official series. Connery had actually visited Casino de Monte Carlo in the unofficial Never Say Never Again already in 1983, but in that film the casino was called "Casino Royale in Monte Carlo", but more on that below.

Thus, GoldenEye was the first real Bond film that took Bond to Monaco. After racing around the roads of Alpes-Maritimes with Xenia in her Ferrari, seducing Caroline above Monaco, that location covered earlier, Bond arrives at the casino later that evening, dressed in black tie. He notices Xenia's Ferrari 355 parked in front of the casino as he walks in.

In a brief scene, Brosnan is walking through the lavish gambling halls, which was filmed on location inside the Casino. For regular visitors, photography is otherwise prohibited.

Bond is coming in from the doors on the above left picture, walks across the room and through the doors on the above right picture. The large wall painting in the left picture above is easily recognised from the film. The room Bond i walking through is called la Salle Touzet Nord, one of two similar rooms that lie parallel to each other, in the eastern wing of the casino.

After walking through la Salle Touzet Nord, Bond is entering an even bigger gambling room, that appears to be the room where he will find his Baccarat table. This gambling hall is perhaps the most luxurious in the casino and it is located at the end of the building in the most eastern part.

This iconic private room of the Casino de Monte-Carlo is called the Salle Médecin and was built in 1910 by Monacan architect François Médecin. The large notable mirrors makes this location easily recognisable. It also has a panoramic veranda-lounge facing the Bay of Roquebrune-Cap-Martin and a bar. At certain times of the year, there is a pop-up restaurant in the neighbouring room. This room is not open off season.

As the gambling halls that Bond walks through are located in the "salon privé" and high stakes area of the casino, you need to pay an extra fee of €10 (on top of the standard entrance fee of €10) to gain access. Please be properly dressed, although black tie is not necessary. The rest of the casino scenes were however filmed in studio, nonetheless brilliantly created by production designer Peter Lamont as seen in the picture below.

Part of the scenes filmed in studio and not on location in Monaco

Never Say Never Again

This brings us back to the unofficial Bond film Never Say Never Again, Connery's comeback as 007 twelve years after his last film, Diamonds Are Forever. Produced by Kevin McClory in 1983, whose legal actions against Ian Fleming might very well have contributed to his heart attack and untimely demise in 1964, Never brought 007 to the South of France and Casino de Monte Carlo for the first time. It is somewhat strange that the official Bond series had not taken Bond to Monaco before Never. 

Connery enters in 1983

But, interestingly enough, the gambling hall that Bond enters in Never is the same hall, Salle Médecin, as Brosnan enters in GoldenEye. This is apparent both from the large mirrors and windows on the far wall, but also from the big wooden column seen to the right.

Brosnan walks past in 1995

Connery and Brosnan are actually passing the same spot in the casino in their respective film, although Connery is coming in from a door on the left and Brosnan is entering from the Salle Touzet Nord as mentioned above.

It is easy to understand why this hall was used in both films, since it is located in the farthest section of the casino that can easily be closed for visitors during filming, allowing for the rest of the casino to stay open without the regular tourists knowing. Naturally, Casino de Monte Carlo is a must visit for everyone, not only for Bond fans, and a very personal favourite of mine.

Celebrating my birthday in October 2015

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