There are many exciting ways to stay happy over the festive period.

No-one knows this better than the marketing team at the Austrian Highways Authority, which is offering special gift vouchers to leave for one’s loved ones under the Christmas Tree. The vouchers offer reduced rates on motorway vignettes, not just in Austria and Switzerland but also in Hungary, should anyone want to visit the Hungarian Alps for a post-Christmas skiing holiday.

It gets even more exciting. Use the voucher code Vignette24 and get a two-euro discount!

My wife doesn’t want to drive, ever, otherwise I would be very tempted to buy a Vignette24 voucher for her as the Big Christmas Gift. This would be sure to send a message, but I’m not sure “I love you” would be her first reaction.

We have now reached the stage in life, with both sons fully-grown, when we don’t even buy a Christmas Tree, so if I were to buy a Vignetter24 voucher I would have to leave it on the counter in the kitchen rather than under anything. Or possibly the pillow… “Happy Christmas, darling, I’ve bought you a little something…”

So, where to go in Monaco for a romantic meal?

The newly rebuilt Cafe de Paris is not on my list. It thinks too highly of itself and is too expensive. The American Bar is suitably gloomy and romance is never far away when the music’s good, which it usually is.

But my wife’s favourite is the Automobile Club and I am very happy to oblige.

We lunched at Le Club earlier this week and the food is so very good, always, that the chef deserves a medal. Every dish surprises with its elegance and subtlety. Expect perfection and receive more.

Another aspect of the Club that I find most satisfying is that I am almost always the youngest old man there, at least as a member.

My wife tells me it’s her favourite place to go in Monaco and she is always delighted when I say I’ve booked a table. She puts on her finest clothes, spends a lot of time perfecting make-up, and very soon we are on the number 1 or 2 or 6 hurtling down avenue d’Ostende towards our destination.

However, when I see the sparkle in her eyes as the wine waiter passes by our table yet again to add a thimble more of white or red the truth starts to dawn on me.

The wine waiter has a well-practised ability to make the act of topping-up a lady’s wine glass something rather special. He takes one small step back, perfects his stance, pauses, catches the lady’s eye, blushes slightly, smiles an indulgent smile and lovingly pours a few drops of liquid pleasure into her ladyship’s proffered glass. They share another flirty smile and off he goes, only to return rather too soon to repeat the ceremony.

Yes, it’s possible to find romance in Monaco over Christmas, but it’s much harder to be part of it.