Jill Shepperd

Jill Shepperd and Deborah Frost of Niche Books Valbonne.

Jill Shepperd was instilled with a love of books from birth. Her mother was a librarian, then the owner of a small bookshop but when she passed away, Jill was too young to be interested in running the business. “Wanting to travel, I worked in various travel agencies over the years before relocating to here in 1994 with my then husband,” says the Whitley Bay native.

Jill is co-owner of Niche Books Valbonne but many of us know her from when she ran the English Book Centre (EBC) on rue Alexis Julien. “I first started working part-time for the owners Sue and Mike Abrahams in 1996, alongside part-time working as a TEFL teacher – new country, new types of job! In 2002, my husband and I were divorcing and I had to choose whether to stay in France or return to the UK. Coincidentally, Sue and Mike decided they wanted to retire, so I took the plunge and bought the business.”

She says she loved the shop as it provided an amazing opportunity to meet many interesting people and be part of the local community “but it was – and still is – hard work! As with any business in France, there are many social charges, restrictions and admin hurdles to overcome but the great thing about being an independent bookshop is complete freedom of choice for stock titles you think will interest the clientele. We held several book signings with various authors, including Carol Drinkwater, Maureen Emerson, Ted Jones, Michael Nelson and Stephen Clarke.”

The EBC turned into a hub for the local Anglophone community, putting people in touch with each other, creating social opportunities for new arrivals to the area and, during the summer, the shop became “the English-speaking Tourist Office.” Soon, local international schools also traded with Jill at EBC.

Which made it even more of “a very difficult decision to sell” the shop to Lin Wolff in 2009. “There were many personal reasons and complications. Lin had worked for me for several years and, like me, was a bookaholic. I left the shop in very good hands.”

After the sale, Jill needed to work again, so returned to teaching and became involved with the Sunnybank Association in Mouans Sartoux, volunteering in their library. “I did however, return to work in the bookshop from time to time when Lin needed staffing help.”

Fast forward to post-Covid lockdowns in 2022. By then, Lin had returned to the US permanently and was obliged to sell the lease for 12 rue Alexis Julien. Deborah Frost, who had worked for Lin for many years, and Jill decided to try and relocate the shop. “After a lengthy and fraught struggle, and many meetings at the mairie, we secured these premises at 7 rue Grande. Debbie and I formed a business partnership and created a new company. With the change of location, we decided to change the name and diversify the range of items we stock to appeal to an even wider clientele.”

The pair was able to raise money via online donations, which helped fund some of the changes they had to make to the new shop. “Debbie and myself say a huge thank you to our loyal customers and friends. It has been an incredible first year, helped enormously by our regulars, new customers who never knew there was an English bookshop here before and the return of tourists to the village.”

Niche Books Valbonne sells a wide range of books in English, bilingual books, local school titles, greetings cards, a small range of stationery items, including crayons and colouring books, French books linked to the region and the possibility to order books not in stock!

Brexit has obviously led to many changes for the British community, some of whom have had to permanently return to the UK. “The community of English-speaking residents remains largely unchanged. The growth of English classes in local schools brought a new clientele to the shop – parents wanting to see their children read much more in English.”

Jill and Debbie are continuing to help promote local authors and artists. A book signing with Lewis Hinton took place recently, for his novel The Face Stone, a Jack Sangster mystery. The shop also stocks cards by Cathie Van der Stel & Marina Kulik, and beautiful hand worked prints by photographer Jon Kershaw.

Illustrator Tiphanie Beeke will be at the shop on Saturday, September 24, at 3pm to read stories of Fletcher, an inquisitive little fox, and children can colour in their own Fletcher pictures.

Reflecting on the almost 30 years she has lived near Valbonne, Jill says that while the neighbouring Sophia Antipolis tech park has grown “exponentially”, the old village has maintained its natural charm. “There are still many villagers who have grown up, lived and worked here all their lives. Local festivals continue in time-honoured tradition mostly around Place des Arcades, the popular square at the heart of the village where there is a variety of restaurants and cafés to choose from.”

Of course, with a newly purchased book in hand – maybe the latest Thursday Murder Club story by Richard Osman.

Jill’s Top Sellers in Valbonne

For those who like bread straight from the oven, Jill suggests stopping by Le fournil d’Eugène, next to the bookshop, around 11am for a Valbonnais. Her other tips include “amazing cheeses” from 365 Fromages (rue Eugène Giraud), indulgent chocolates from a Meilleur Ouvrier de France at Chocolaterie Christian Camprini (rue de la République) or a glass of  ‘proper’ beer at the Irish bar Roots on rue de la Fontaine.

The Good Life

Mental health is not a topic historically associated with Monaco. Gavin Sharpe of Riviera Wellbeing seems determined to change that. His latest initiative, The Good Life, is an all-day event at the Monte Carlo Bay Hotel on October 15th which he hopes will move the dial.

“Covid was a game changer for all of us,” says Gavin. “Overnight, mental health went from being a taboo subject to a daily conversation. Rich or poor, we were all faced with similar existential questions about our careers, relationships and lives.”

As a psychotherapist and psychosexual therapist, Gavin has teamed up with an international relationship and wellbeing coach Dufflyn Lammers, originally from California, now based in France. The pair are collaborating with Riviera Radio and the aim is to broadcast part of the day live on air to reach as large an audience as possible.

Does he think Monaco is ready to talk about mental health? “Actually, I find mental health a stigmatised, less helpful phrase these days. I am not really a fan of happiness either as a benchmark tool for how to measure our lives. Happiness is fleeting and mostly circumstantial. I cannot feel happy all the time. I need to choose how to meet my pain.”

Gavin, who co-hosts “Wellbeing Window” with Sarah Lycett on Riviera Radio the first Wednesday of every month, favours the term “wellbeing” which is something we can actively do on a daily basis. He cites the quality of our relationships, meaningful careers, financial health, good body health, as well as connection to a higher purpose, as being some of the crucial components that need to be aligned for us to be “well”.

The Monaco resident believes two recent events have changed us forever. Covid and the war in Ukraine. “We cannot unsee what we have seen. We are at an existential crossroads, individually and collectively.” This is why it is the right time to launch The Good Life for which he is donating ticket sales to Child CARE Monaco.

“We are re-defining wellness. People who were stressed and/or obese were dying in front of us during the pandemic, not to mention those we lost with no pre-existing conditions. Wellness is no longer just a yoga class once a week but a question of survival and a desire to prepare ourselves for the future.”

He adds, “Typically, we focus on one or two wellbeing components. There is no point me having the best job in the world but being lonely and obese. That isn’t wellness.”

Gavin fears we have become “dopamine zombies”, seeking out instant pleasure at the expense of avoiding pain and that society’s over-consumption is unstainable, if we want to be well. This is what he believes leads to addiction.

“I think the war in Ukraine was also a tipping point for many. It seemed to come from nowhere and right off the back of the pandemic. More people probably came to therapy in the weeks after Putin invaded Ukraine than during the first half of the pandemic.”

As for The Good Life, Gavin says he was amazed at the enthusiasm from their corporate sponsors: Savills, Blevins Franks, Metabolic Balance and Clinic Les Alpes. “Not one company asked ‘What’s in it for me?’All they have asked is ‘What can we do to help?’”

Perhaps this explains why Gavin feels the time is right to discuss mental health, I mean wellbeing! As to whether Monaco is ready, Gavin remains optimistic:

“Monaco has led the way in so many areas, like with the health of the planet’s environment. I am thinking now about your recent coverage of Kate Powers who I had the privilege of getting to know briefly. Look at her legacy in and around the community. Yes, I think we are approaching readiness. As they say, if not now, then when? Carl Jung stated ‘Life is a short pause between two great mysteries’. In other words, we don’t have long so let’s get started!”

The Good Life takes place Saturday, October 15th, from 10 am to 4 pm, at Monte Carlo Bay. Tickets (€60 day pass includes lunch) can be purchased online or by calling +33 (0)6 40 61 99 82.

Father Peter Jackson

I was shocked when I heard that Father Peter Jackson, 69, had died on August 30.  Having suffered a pulmonary embolism, he passed away a few days later in hospital surrounded by family and friends. In the words of many, he genuinely was “one of the kindest people I had ever met.” A eucharist at Holy Trinity Nice will take place at 11 am on Wednesday, October 12 will be followed by the committal of ashes in the church yard. There will be a private cremation in advance.

Father Peter came to Holy Trinity Nice in October 2014. During my years as Editor-in-Chief of the Riviera Reporter magazine, I had the privilege to sit down with him several times after he first arrived, which happened to be mere months before the Charlie Hebdo massacre. Uncannily, he was also in Washington as 9/11 unfolded, driving across the bridge as the Pentagon was hit. The story below is based on two interviews, from March 2015 and November 2015, when he reflected on the Paris attacks and the fundamental human question about how could God allow suffering.

It was All Saint’s Day 1945 when Peter Jackson’s parents met on an air force station in Hartlebury, Worcestershire. They married two years later and moved to Wales where Peter was born in 1953.

“I attended a small private school from the age of 13 to nearly 18, and I stayed on to do an extra study for Oxford entrance. I worked for the newspaper – not as a journalist but folding and delivering papers to make some money so I could travel to the South of France. In fact, I spent my 18th birthday closed to Toulon.”

Peter read theology at St Peter’s College Oxford for three years before starting to study Law but went back to Oxford and got a teaching qualification. From there, he went on to Theological College at St Stephen’s House in Oxford and trained to be ordained. 

“When I was in my prep school of 150 boys, the headmaster commented to my mother ‘Brother Peter’, so even though I wasn’t particularly pious, there must have been something religious about my attitudes. And the other thing I do remember is my scripture lessons. Our teacher was quite obsessed with spiritualist things and these were some of the liveliest lessons. My rival in this tiny school, Nick Rowley, eventually went to Cambridge and was a brilliant musician who played for the Two Ronnies. He and I were absolutely engaged in thinking about religion and philosophy, the big issues that concern us as we are growing up.”

After confirmation, Peter found going to chapel significant and admired his “very abled” Chaplain, and the idea that this is what he would do crossed his mind. “But I also experienced the common teenage reaction to all the suffering in the world, we’re talking about the late Sixties and Vietnam. I wasn’t becoming an atheist but I now realise the fundamental human question about how could God allow such suffering is actually growing up in terms of spirituality, a fairly normal adolescence for a thoughtful person. At the time you just feel quite angry. I didn’t stop going to church but I felt very conflicted, which fell into a time when I was fascinated by Bertrand Russell; I read all three volumes of his biography and read transcripts of his debates on religion in the early Fifties, which now you could probably watch on YouTube. It all makes you wonder whether God exists, and if he does, why does so much appalling suffering go unrectified?”

He added, “The institution on the whole didn’t give me greatest confidence. I resisted being ordained but I saw that I was resisting, and that wasn’t a good thing. I wasn’t sure. It was such a relief, though, and I felt like I had arrived at the right place.”

Father Peter said the question of suffering was one he was often asked. “If there’s a sudden death or a young person is afflicted with some awful illness, or, as in my last parish, the youngest son of our treasurer’s wife was murdered in his twenties in a random attack around the corner from where I lived. It’s not that they stopped believing, but they didn’t. Faith and my connection with them pastorally didn’t waiver, but it left them in a very bleak place. I read that Mother Theresa in the last few years of her life found a complete emptiness when she prayed. I made this commitment and I will hold onto this even though they get nothing back in terms of feeling.”

He believed it was possible to “hang in there” even though one’s intuition or affective side is desolate. Much like people felt after the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris, where two armed terrorists killed 12 people and injured 11 others in the office of the weekly satirical newspaper.

“I didn’t preach about Charlie Hebdo. You have to be very careful about preaching about these subjects, you can characterize it as the conflict between two faiths, or two brothers who lived marginalised lives, and it doesn’t work. It’s essentially many different interpretations, and I don’t think in public, giving an opinion is helpful. Frankly, we don’t know.”

Father Peter was in Washington on 9/11. “I was driving across the bridge as the Pentagon was hit. I’d oddly been right in the mix so to speak. We cannot understand how shocked Americans were about being attacked in their home country and we can get lost in a fog of complexity. What I did in the very thoughtful and highly educated episcopal parish in Washington was a whole series about the ethics of war. I found those who were pastorally engaged, they didn’t want a knee-jerk reaction but to consider the wider context of what this was all about.

“One of the consequences of the First World War was a change in how people thought about the dead. They wouldn’t have a very adequate response to death and grief, but you have the ritual of the unknown soldier and poppies, two minutes silence and you suddenly get changed emphasis in Anglicanism, get prayers for the dead.

“In the Second World War, people, not everyone, went to church. The intensity of the experience drew people to the church for a secular memorial service. There isn’t religious behaviour in our society, but  institutions or religion and their representatives connect with the raw emoting and questioning of the moment.

“By inclination, evocative sacramental religion gives people more of a resource to cope. People can be themselves and have their own relationship with God.”

A year after his arrival as Chaplain at the historic Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Nice, as well as of St Hugh Vence, Father Peter said in 2015, “I have served in a variety of parishes and schools, including twelve years at Harrow School, but I have never received such a warm and practical welcome as here.

“We have had so much help in settling into the presbytery – the 1890s priest’s house next to the church – getting to know the community and becoming accustomed to life in France. The assistance offered was invaluable as Holy Trinity is quite different from my previous parish in London. The congregation there consistently drew from only the immediate area, while the Nice one is constantly changing. There is a loyal core of people who have made their permanent home here but there is also a constant flow of visitors from all over the Anglophone world. In recent months, we have welcomed students from the Netherlands, Australia and the US, a Canadian Air Force chaplain, as well as visitors from the UK and North America. There are also those who come for a few months at a time: some from Canada wintering on the Riviera, as the British did in the nineteenth century, and others simply spending time in apartments that they own in Nice.

“There is also a significant American presence, which dates back to the time 40 years ago when the American Anglican congregation of the Episcopal Church of the Holy Spirit joined Holy Trinity, having sold their church in Nice to the French Protestants. This explains why Holy Trinity, a chaplaincy within the Church of England Diocese in Europe, is also listed as an associated parish by the Episcopal Church. Attendance, as well the composition of the congregation, varies considerably.

“We had almost 300 in church for the Easter Day service but fewer than half that number at Christmas, reflecting both the tendency of many permanent Nice residents to visit family at Christmas and the popularity of the Riviera as a holiday destination at Easter. When I describe the Holy Trinity congregation to visiting friends, I say that they are more like a cathedral congregation than a parish one. The factors that draw people to us are similar: a desire to participate in worship in English, and worship, that is accessible and mainstream.

“Also, I cannot assume that everyone is Anglican or that everyone is equally devout: some may be seeking something spiritual without yet having strong commitment. Moreover, the social time after services, when many linger to chat over a glass of wine or a cup of coffee, is for some an indispensable complement to the worship – English speakers in a foreign land, they are keen to find an English-speaking community. But this has to be balanced by a recognition that some are also attracted by the fact that you can also slip in and out of Holy Trinity without the obligation to become more involved.

“I am very fortunate. I have had a variety in my life of working with interesting communities and met an extraordinary range of people and become involved profoundly in the lives of others. And that’s a privilege that doesn’t happen to a lot of people. I’m grateful that I have a family life, which was not something I expected. And fascinated to have arrived in such an extraordinary place and community and house, and at a point when one might expect to be winding down and retiring, I find myself with the stimulus of something entirely new and rewarding.”

Father Peter is survived by his husband Joseph Voelker and their children Eliot and Anneli.

Rhonda Hudson, President Kate Powers Foundation

Rhonda Hudson and Kate Powers.

There are people who fantasise about living in Monaco. For Rhonda Hudson, a physical dream came to her one night while attending chiropractic school in Atlanta Georgia. “The dream was strong and vivid. I was walking down an old small cobblestone road holding hands with two little girls and when I looked up, I saw a sign that read Niçoise Socca. As I had never visited Europe, it took me a few months to figure out what this meant. As soon as I did, I quit school and flew to Nice. Two suitcases, my dog and me,” recalls Rhonda, founder of the well-being centre of alignment, Bodyflow.mc.

About ten months after arriving in the Alpes-Maritimes in 2000, the native of California visited Monaco. “I gave myself the time to find out who I was, letting go of old belief systems, family stuff and data. I did a lot of deprogramming and went deeper inside.”

Rhonda says she was searching for a deeper meaning to life. “I began questioning everything. There had to more to this world and humanity then suffering and this longing to have more, be more, do more, which seemed like a never-ending road down the rabbit hole. Somewhere in all of this must be a deeper inner-peace where we find joy, happiness and bliss even in the challenging times.”

Shortly after coming to Monaco she met Kate Powers. “Kate and I shared a deep love of helping others, both in our own ways, and definitely sharing our experiences together so we could grow.”

Rhonda shares that her friendship with Kate was not instantaneous. “It took us a few years to build a deep connection from just being acquaintances at various events of interest. We first met through some well-being events around Monaco, yoga classes, the Fourth of July and Halloween at Stars’n’Bars. We built our deep friendship walking the No Finish Line sometime in 2002 or 2003. Over those several days of walking together it was as though we had been friends our entire lives, something clicked, and from that point forward we shared almost everything.”

After that, Rhonda and Kate planned wellness events together and went on many retreats, from detox retreats around the region to liver cleanses in Germany. The last one was in Malta with one of their favourite neuroscientists, Dr Joe Dispenza. “We planned how we could make a difference for Monaco and the environment, how we could have an impact on the community and how we could heal ourselves through our own personal struggles.”

The Monaco resident admits that while living in California she was not as focused on a healthy lifestyle. “My moto is balance. I feel extremely blessed that I have been around and influenced by some of the top leaders in the well-being industry worldwide.”

Bodyflow.mc offers people the opportunity to experience bodywork, breath work, kundalini yoga (chanting, singing, breathing exercises), meditation, sound therapy and transformational coaching. “Sometimes in life, we feel stuck, depressed and helpless. We experience the death of loved ones, divorce, financial struggles, anxiety, stress, being burnt out or overwhelmed. Through a variety of tools people can experience alternative ways for recovery, for healing, to create an experience of well-being from the inside. And developing these daily tools means they can use overcome their issues and feel well, healthy, joyful and strong mentally, physically and emotionally,” she explains.

Rhonda works with teenagers and adults using a variety of different techniques. She says a life balance, breathing and power practices are the three steps people can take to improve their wellness levels.

“Make sure you have balance between work, family, socialising, sleep and exercising. Try alternate nostril breathing helps reduce stress and settle the mind. And meditation, sound therapy and yoga allow you to master your thoughts and transform your life.”

Painting by Dave Van Dorst. Photo: Alicia Sedgwick

With the one-year anniversary of Kate’s death approaching on August 30th, many of us still struggle with the loss. For her closest friend Rhonda, it remains especially raw.

“It is hard to believe it is the one-year anniversary of her passing. I have tears in my eyes at this moment as I miss her, our friendship, her smiling face, our numerous adventures and our deep chats over a glass of wine on how we could make a difference—one of her favourite sayings and a tag line on her emails.”

It is largely thanks to Rhonda and Kate’s family that the Kate Powers Foundation was officially formed in June. “I did get Kate’s permission after much deliberation. I am not sure how many people knew that Kate had a shy side to her. She was not a huge fan of public speaking even though she was great at it and when we first started discussing a foundation in her name she wasn’t convinced.

“After several weeks of discussions, I managed to help her see how much she had done for the community and the Principality, and how it was important that we kept her passions, dreams and desires moving forward. She then shared with me all the things she would love to see followed through and created through the Foundation. I remember her saying, ‘Are you sure we have to call it the Kate Powers Foundation?’ We both smiled and then laughed.”

The slogan for the Kate Powers Foundation (KPF) is “Together we shine Bright”. Rhonda reveals, “One of Kate’s deepest desires was to pull people together in the community. When anyone had a problem or needed help, they would walk through the doors of Stars’n’Bars looking for Kate. Parents would tell their kids, ‘If you get into trouble and can’t reach me, go to Kate.’ When someone had an idea for an event or project, they would go to Kate. If a person was in emotional pain, where did they go? Kate. She listened, she offered positive words and hugs, and she shared a moment with people that let them know everything would be okay, she was there to help. To Kate, everyone was special. To everyone, Kate as a beacon of light.”

The Foundation is in its early stages and, as president, Rhonda and the association’s board are pulling together all Kate’s ideas they would like to follow through with over the next few years that both unite the community and follow her lead of giving back. For example, linking the Eco Angels – the group Kate put together to pick up trash after the Grand Prix, The Jumping and the Yacht Show – with companies who are aligned with the Foundation’s efforts so together they can make a difference

“Kate loved the sea and wanted to make sure we kept all the trash left over from these events out of the water, so we could help heal the environment. She also had a big passion for children, so we are excited to work with and be inspired by kids and young adults of Monaco. Every project we participate in will give back to the community in various ways – education, scholarships, well-being, personal growth and sustainable means – giving everyone an opportunity to work together and give back.”

At the moment, the KPF website is under construction. Individuals and companies will soon be able to donate online globally or for specific projects, share ideas, sign up for events, participate as volunteers or partner with the Foundation, as well as receive a monthly newsletter. Donations can be made by cheque or wire transfer to the Kate Powers Foundation c/o BodyFlow, Palais de la Scala, 1 Henri Dunant, Monaco 98000.

Shane Heminway., Peter Thomas, Didier Rubiolo, Annette Anderson and Mike Powers onJuly 16, 2022.
Photo: Alicia Sedgwick

On July 16th, the Foundation held a “super simple get together” in honour of Kate’s birthday at Stars’n’Bars. “We had a wonderful turnout with so many volunteers donating their time and goods, making this very first event something special for everyone that was able to attend. Kate touched the lives of so many people, I believe the community will join together to see her legacy live on. ‘Do what you love, love what you do and make a difference’ as she always said.”

As a tribute to mark August 30th, Rhonda graciously agreed to share a few of her favourite Kate stories. “I have so many, however, here is one that comes to mind. Every week, we would sit at the bar close to the kitchen of the fusion restaurant and discuss the various ways we could stop Kate’s mom Kelly from feeding popcorn to the pigeons at the front of Stars’n’Bars, which seemed to annoy customers. We came up with numerous plans to distract Kelly but I am not sure any of them worked!

“Another time we flew to London to go to a seminar ‘The Work’  by Byron Katie to find a deeper meaning to life and question what you believe. We spent two days in the seminar and were rushing to the airport late Sunday afternoon. It started to snow on the M25 highway, which meant we ended up in a huge traffic jam with nothing moving. So we built a snowman to pass the time. Kate always looked at making the best of the situations we found ourselves in … and there were many.”

On a more intimate note, Rhonda opens up: “The year leading to Kate’s passing, and I had to sit with this for a while to put it into words, was special. I know that may sound strange but let me share why … we laughed, we cried, we worked on so many things personally for healing, we discussed all the things we did together, everything she was feeling during this time, how much she loved what she did, how many special people she had relationships with and how they influenced her life in such a positive way.

“Overall, Kate felt enriched by all of her experiences, how much she loved her family and friends and staff at Stars. And lastly, she said how she loved the community in Monaco and this was her home.”

Rosés of Southern France

Authors Elizabeth Gabay and Ben Bernheim (right).

There are less than 400 people on the planet with a coveted “Masters of Wine” certification. Considered the highest wine achievement in the world, Elizabeth Gabay is one of two people in the Alpes-Maritimes with the accreditation.

As a Provence specialist for the Wine Scholar Guild (formerly the French Wine Society), she is also the main South of France wine writer for Decanter magazine. Her second book, Rosés of Southern France, was published earlier this month.

“I passed the Master of Wine exam in 1998 after four years of intensive study, three after the birth of my son Ben,” says Elizabeth. “The exams involve understanding and being able to analyse viticulture, vinification, commercial business, the role of wine in society and, of course, being able to taste and evaluate wine. The pass rate is low – around 10% – and we do have an amazing global network.”

Back in 2018, Elizabeth wrote the definitive book on rosé, Rosé: Understanding the Pink Wine Revolution. “I had originally thought of a book on the region of Provence, but with over 80% of production being rosé, it made sense to focus on rosé. As I studied the market, history and different styles the book grew into being a global reach and a realisation that there really was a global revolution happening as rosés were growing in volume – now well over 10% of global consumption.”

When Elizabeth started researching for the book in late 2016, the level of quality rosé around the world was “erratic”. And while quality has improved in the past six years … “a lot of regional styles have disappeared as commercial competitiveness has pushed producers to make ‘Provence-style rosé’. Quality is improving but at the price of losing tradition and individuality,” says the Saint-Martin-Vésubie resident.

Rosés of Southern France is a collaborative cowrite with her son Ben Bernheim, who “has spent his entire life in wine. As part of the wine tasting team at Edinburgh university he won the prize for the best white wine taster competing against Oxford, Cambridge and French students.” After graduating in 2017, Ben helped his mom finish the original rosé book and he worked in vineyards and as a sommelier.

“Working with a 25-year-old is exhausting. He has so much energy,” Elizabeth shares. “I was in my comfy niche of writing and lecturing and he has pushed the boundaries.” In addition to last year’s e-guide and this year’s book really, the mother-son duo also found the time to create their own rosé, Sen, made with a winemaker in Slovakia.

Their book Rosés of Southern France clearly establishes patterns for regionality and what makes the wines stand out, which is of interest to both buyers and consumers. “Last year Ben and I did an e-guide tasting 1000 Southern French rosés and we realised that the best wines showed originality and we wanted to write more about these wines and estates.”

Elizabeth and Ben sampled over 2,000 rosés during the past year. “Including rosés from elsewhere – it is important to keep an international perspective.”

The book aims to be a classic wine book. “If you love rosé, you can read it and understand the different styles, and how to look for other wines.” At the same time, at the end of August, they are launching their website pink.wine which will be a modern and innovative approach to rosé,” the New Yorker explains.

“Most existing books on rosé either give a list of wines or list estates to visit or are coffee table books with lovely photos. We wanted to treat rosé as a serious wine. We have included maps showing the geology and geography, photos of the soils, grapes, regions. We have tried to show how and why the styles of wine have different styles. The elegance of Sainte Victoire, the robustness of Gigondas, the complexity of Tavel …”

Rosés of Southern France is for professionals, sommeliers, buyers and anyone who likes rosé. “Hopefully it will help consumers when they go into a shop and want to choose a wine. Recently someone mentioned they liked fuller bodied Les Baux rosés and we were able to suggest which regions and appellations had similar styles.”

Elizabeth has three recommendations to look out for this summer.

  1. Les Schistes, Les Maîtres Vignerons de Gonfaron, Côtes de Provence (€7.80): a delicate charming white peach, fresh citrus acidity and a lovely balance of restrained fruit and acidity.
  2. Pierre Amadieu, Romane Machotte, Gigondas AOP 2021 (€17): a juicy, slightly weightier rosé with real Gigondas character filled with fresh cherries, strawberries and raspberry fruit – but also a serious gastronomic wine.
  3. Chateau de Selle, Domaine Ott (€26): red fruit, floral, perfumed, orange blossom. Gorgeous citrus acidity, crisp, citrussy, vibrant well-made, elegant, direct, hint of leafiness on the Rather lovely.

And for those like me who know nothing about wine, Elizabeth says look for rosé in a dark bottle. “I know that is counter-intuitive but colour is not important. Pale does not make it good. The bright sunlight can damage the wine and give it off vegetal flavours. I’ve seen people say they don’t like rosé and then discover they are tasting wine which has been in the sun. An hour on the table in summer is enough to harm the wine.

“Look at the back label. If it says serve at 6°C you know it is best drunk chilled by the pool. Serve at 10°C and above with maybe some detail of the grapes suggests the producer is more serious.”

Warning: Excessive consumption of alcohol is harmful to your health

Kate Powers’ Birthday

A special family afternoon at Stars’n’Bars will honour Kate Powers birthday on Saturday, July 16th. The event is being organised by the Kate Powers Foundation, which was set up to continue her dedicated work on bettering the well-being of the community and the environment.

“Kate left us on August 30th and we miss her,” the Foundation says. “Her love and sense of fun made every event at Stars’n’Bars so memorable, we miss it.”

Volunteers from the Kate Powers Foundation will be raising money through various games for children and adults – three-legged race, egg spoon race, pétanque – as well there will be an inflatable castle, face painting, meditations and a sound bath, a wellness corner and a raffle with Kate-appropriate prizes (see below). There will also be a silent disco and a dunk tank.

Stop by between 4pm to 10ish (no reservations necessary) and pay tribute to our friend Kate while supporting the Foundation that bears her name. Entry is €30.

Food and drink (salad bar, cake, cookies, wine, Blue Coast Beer and Kombucha …) not included. More details will be revealed in coming weeks but I can confirm Mickie and Minnie Mouse will be on hand for photos.

Every time you say the words “I miss Kate”, follow that up with “How can I help?”

Tombola donations

  • Blue Coast Beer
  • Signed football shirt ( Lisa/Steph Morandi) Monaco FC
  • 2 vouchers for Zumba classes (Lisa Parker/Morandi)
  • 1 reflexology (Keah Lan, Senses)
  • Advanced Body Management (Kylie Tomich)
  • Azur Chiropractic (Julie Reynolds)
  • Craniosacral therapy session (Lucy Coote)
  • Meal for 2 at Piazza
  • Annette Shine yoga
  • Bon Cadeaux Treatment (Fanny Rigaud)
  • 100 cupcakes (Nicky Johnson)
  • Birthday cake (Angie Roberts)

Chess for Peace: Ukrainian refugees play at Monaco tournament

Photo: Jean Michel Rapaire Facebook

I discovered Monaco had a chess club back in 2017. It was during the #Whitecard photo op at the Monaco Yacht Club where a slew of sports celebrities had gathered to show support for the Peace and Sport initiative. Following the group shot, Prince Albert turned to his right to speak with Fiorina Berezovsky (pictured below), Monaco’s youngest ever national chess champion.

At age nine, Fiorina had already been playing the game for three and a half years and was a member of Le Cercle d’Echecs de Monte-Carlo (CEMC) – Monaco’s Chess Federation. She also spoke five languages – Ukrainian, French, English, German and Russian.

Monaco Champions for Peace at 2017 #Whitecard event. Photo; Manuel Vitali/Direction de la Communication
Photo: Jean Michel Rapaire Facebook

Now age 14, Fiorina (above) is part of the Monaco Women’s Team competing at the 44th Chess Olympiad 2022, which takes place in Chennai, India, from July 28th to August 10th August. With 100 countries registered for the event, she is the youngest participant.

The Women’s Team will be captained by Fiorina’s mom, Svetlana, who is also a Monaco Women’s Chess Champion; Fiorina’s father, Igor, holds an international chess title. The couple, who met at a chess tournament in Ukraine, have been extremely active in assisting Ukrainian refugees arriving in Monaco.

When Igor and CEMC president Jean Michel Rapaire decided to organise a “Chess for Peace” tournament for players ages 5 to 17, they never imagined such an overwhelming response. Fifty-six young players – including 14 girls – from the Cercle d’Echecs de Monte-Carlo registered. The event had to be moved from the chess club on boulevard d’Italie to the Novotel to accommodate everyone.

The fast-play tournament on Sunday, June 12th was based on 9 rounds of 10 minutes plus 5 seconds per move.

What makes Sunday’s “Chess for Peace” event exemplary is that ten of the young players are Ukrainian refugees. “As chess is popular in Ukraine, most kids came with a certain level,” explains Igor.

“Thanks to my wife’s great work, Ukrainian kids new to the region have gravitated towards the chess club.”

RESULTS AFTER FOUR ROUNDS
1st-2nd Fiorina and Aaron 4 points
3rd-4th Boris and Sergej with 3.5 points
5th-14th Nam Thao , Stanislav, Nikita, Lukas Dante, Alina , Alexander, Egor, Valériia and Janibek

Photo: Jean Michel Rapaire Facebook
Photo: Nam Thao Facebook

Céline Gally & Neil O’Dowd

It was exactly a week ago when Charles Leclerc had a disappointing fourth place finish at the 2022 Monaco Grand Prix.

The fast-pace action was not only on the course. Over the F1 weekend—from Wednesday, May 25 to Monday, May 30—5,075 passengers were transported in 2,400 helicopter rides. There were 142 boats anchored in ports while 33 ships were anchored in Monegasque territorial waters. On race day Sunday, 1,744 cruise passengers from five ships set foot on Monaco soil and 86,831 vehicle entries/exits to/from the Principality were recorded (compared to 89,467 in 2019).

One race day arrival was not included in the government’s statistics, however, was Céline Gally and Neil O’Dowd who cycled 3,347 kms from Faro to Monaco raising money for charity. It took the couple three months.

“We have been trying to trace back how we arrived at the idea for the trip and we aren’t sure exactly how it came about to be honest,” expresses Céline, who was born and bred in Monaco. “It was likely a combination of a strong desire to travel after a long series of Covid lockdowns and Neil’s experience of having previously completed a cycle trip and a warm climate that led to the decision of doing a tour by bike, commencing in the south of Portugal.”

The two came up with a rough idea of a route based on bike trips from crazyguyonabike.com. “This is where we learned about the Alentejo region of Portugal and decided to include this as a slight detour from the coast in the trip,” explains Neil, 26, “and some places that we were already interested in visiting such as Porto, Lisbon, Santiago de Compostela and Bilbao.”

With the waypoints chosen, they used the website cycle.travel to create an itinerary following quiet secondary roads, where possible because, like the website says, “Life is too short to ride busy roads!”

Once the route was set, Céline and Neil saw an opportunity to raise awareness and funds for Mothers of Africa. Céline’s mom, Noeline, has been volunteering for the Monaco-based charity for a number of years. “We know the Monaco team well and have been following the amazing work they do to support women and children in Africa for quite some time,” shares 25-year-old Céline.

“Before embarking on the trip, we created a fundraiser page to collect funds. We also set up an Instagram page for the trip as a way to keep our family and friends up-to-date while on our journey and for us to share information on Mothers of Africa and the link to the fundraiser for those who wished to make a donation.”

Prior the Faro-Monaco fundraising trip, Céline and Neil were living in Dublin where they had both studied and completed some work experience in the field of engineering. “We would regard ourselves as reasonably sporty. I am interested in climbing, running and hurling—an Irish sport somewhat similar to hockey or lacrosse—and Céline is into walking, yoga and swimming. In saying that, our fitness improved a lot over the course of the trip and we took the first couple of weeks quite easy,” recounts Neil, who biked from the Netherlands to Monaco in 2019, but not as part of a fundraiser.

Céline adds, “We were fortunate to meet so many kind and friendly people along the way. Our incredible host in the Alentejo region showed us his giant amphora of wine, which he made as the Romans did. Then there was the man who offered us an armful of oranges from his garden at the top of a particularly difficult hill in Galicia are two occasions among many others.”

Their traversed landscapes varied from the sun-baked Algarve to the vibrant green of the Basque country and even the snowy peaks (“albeit in the distance”) of the Midi-Pyrénées. “To paint the trip in its entirety like this would, however, be disingenuous as in equal measure there were sore knees, days of non-stop rain and, on one occasion, a malicious act by someone who destroyed both of our rear tires with a blade during the night,” Céline reveals. “The true beauty of the trip is that of being on the road which is the simplification of daily life to two main concerns, that of sustenance and shelter, and the appreciation of the ordinary – a comfy bed, a warm shower or a delicious nourishing meal.”

At the time of writing, Céline and Neil have raised €2,505 for Mothers of Africa.

“We are very grateful for their amazing effort and contribution,” comments Susanne Bohush president of Mothers of Africa (pictured above third from left). “We are starting build of our new nursery school in Shiyala, Zambia, beginning July.”

As for Céline and Neil’s next adventure, they are not quite sure yet. “We would like to continue our travels after the summer to explore some parts of Asia. We’re not sure if this part will be by bike. For now we’re happy for our bikes to collect dust in the garage,” Neil laughs.

Donations are still being accepted to support Céline and Neil’s bike trip and Mothers of Africa.

Burton Gintell

I last spoke with Burton Gintell at the American Club of the Riviera’s Thanksgiving lunch in November. Chatting in the Salle Belle Epoque, his genuine kind self inquired with a twinkle, “How are you doing Nancy … really?” And yet he was with the pancreatic cancer diagnosis.

After several minutes, we were talking about one of my all-time favourite stories: how Burton happened to meet Fred Astaire in New York on their shared birthday on May 11.

Burton and I were anecdotal and chatty, as we had been since we first met years ago when I worked at the Riviera Reporter and he was in his first mandate as president of the American Club of the Riviera (ACR), a position he held from 2010-2011 and from mid-2013 to 2016; he also co-presided in 2017 with Beathe-Jeanette Lunde.

In 2011, the Reporter had done a piece on the annual conference on the Association of Presidents of the American Club, which Burton hosted at the Monaco Novotel with representatives from 15 countries in Europe. He remarked in the article, “The business component is rather smaller now as fewer firms are sending staff abroad. Talking to our guests, I heard that in some places business networking can still be a significant function of a club, in others there’s a strong interest in political issues. Here our emphasis is a blend of the social and the cultural.”

Burton, a trained CPA who was an Emeritus Member of the Board at Sophia Business Angels, strived to develop unique events for ACR members, such as a pre-lunch visit to Nice’s Museum of Historical Musical Instruments, whose curator Robert Adelson was American.

One of the most memorable ACR events I was invited to was a few years back, when the club celebrated Christmas with a beer tasting session at the then-new microbrewery in Nice, Allez Hops!, owned by ACR governor, Daniel Deganutti.

Ever the gentleman, Burton and his British realtor wife Jackie Pressman-Gintell, have always been kindhearted towards me. The couple lived in Europe for more than 40 years, and spent the last two decades in Cannes where both have been active members of the community and supporters of several French arts organisations.

Burton was a director and founding shareholder of Innovation Europe S.A., an investment vehicle created by SBA to invest in a portfolio of innovative young companies. I did not know this but he had received the Queen’s Award for Export Achievement in the UK during one tenure as chief executive at a major company. In addition to his presidency at ACR, he was vice-chair for three years of the Côte D’Azur-Monaco chapter of the American Chamber of Commerce in France.

At ACR’s “Swell-egant Elegant Gala” at the Belles Rives, Burton commented, “Virtually all of us here have enriched our lives by living elsewhere from our birthplaces, to which some of our families migrated to seek a better life. We can perhaps pause for a moment to reflect upon those who do not have our choices.”

He was a compassionate and giving man who often reflected on others’ needs. Cy Todd, ACR vice-president and membership coordinator, added this reflection on Burton: “He was an ‘influencer’ before the term’s time. His friendly and inclusive demeanour drew people to him. This made him the perfect president of the American Club. He was like a Pied Piper, even taking a group of friends to his beloved Venice, to celebrate his and Jackie’s 25th wedding anniversary. It was a wonderful trip, enjoyed by all.”

Burton died on April 30 just shy of his 87th birthday. Jackie shared the message: “My darling husband, Burton Gintell, passed away this morning. He will be missed by all who loved the extraordinary man he was.”

He will be cremated on May 11th at 11 am at the Cannes crematorium (Chemin plaine de Laval, 06150 Cannes la Bocca).

I will not be able to attend but at 11 am, I will do my best Fred Astaire moves in his honour.

Svetlana Berezovsky

Svetlana Berezovsky met her husband Igor at a chess tournament in Ukraine. The couple moved to the Principality in 2013 to start a business and they have both since ranked as Monaco chess champions in their respective categories.

Svetlana teaches at the local chess club – Le Cercle d’échecs de Monte-Carlo – which has around 100 members and their two sons and two daughters also play the game, with their youngest, 14-year-old Fiorina, once holding the distinction of Monaco’s youngest chess champion five years ago.

While the close-knit family has fully embraced nearly a decade in Monaco, they are deeply attached to their roots. Svetlana was born in Chernihiv, a city in Ukraine with a 1300 year-long history. Today the city is under a heavy bombardment. “I lost two of my relatives who were hiding at their village house not far from Chernihiv. Two more young people from my extended family were severely injured during that terrorist attack. They are in a hospital in Kyiv at the moment. Next week we want to get them to the West,” says Svetlana Berezovsky

The 50-year-old adds that her father-in-law is in Odessa. “It is his city and he will not leave regardless. And, of course, we have many young friends – mostly men – who are in Ukraine, protecting the country.”

For the Berezovskys, the nights following Russia’s invasion on Ukraine were without sleep. “We had the feeling that if we fell asleep, we would wake up to an occupied Ukraine. So we watched the news non-stop, texted and called friends and relatives all over Ukraine.”

Svetlana describes the brave Ukrainians defending their country as “an incredibly free spirit” and emphasises “it is really a fight of good and evil without any semitones. Evil will not succeed. Ukrainians will remain free.”

Concerned about their homeland, shortly after the invasion Svetlana and Igor started to organise support for refugees coming to Monaco. “The solidarity of people in Europe is mind blowing, particularly when you think that Poland has accepted more than 2 million Ukrainians. There is practically no border between Ukraine and Poland today.”

According to UNHCR, as of April 2nd, 4,176,401 refugees had fled Ukraine since February, 24th with 2,429,265 arriving in Poland.

“With other families, we do our little bit to help – like organising temporary apartments and rooms in France, Monaco and Germany for incoming people, mostly women with kids. When people are here, we are trying to support them in any possible way. We see also that while Ukrainians are very thankful, they all want to go back home after Ukraine wins the war.”

For Svetlana, “Everyone can help, be it by supporting Ukraine financially, helping with temporary accommodation, with medical supplies, food and other things.” What is especially important at the moment is accommodating people “even if just for one month.”

She articulates that it is “critically important not to do business with Russia. Every penny Russia gets on taxes, goes directly to war, directly for killing Ukrainian children. And the Kremlin’s appetite is not limited to Ukraine … they are speaking openly about that.”

Anyone wishing to donate items to Ukrainian families currently being housed locally can contact Kate Golubeva on WhatsApp +380 50 392 3244 for more information. Svetlana has provided details below for wire transfers for first aid kits to the largest and trusted Odessa foundation.

EURO TRANSFER

Company details:
CHARITABLE FOUNDATION M CORPORATION

IBAN:
UA543052990000026000034900511

Name of bank: 
JSC CB “PRIVATBANK”

Address:
1D HRUSHEVSKOHO STR., KYIV, 01001, UKRAINE

SWIFT:
PBANUA2X

Company address:
Kanatna, 78 #20. ODESSA, 65012, UKRAINE

Wire subject:
BG First Aid Kits

PAYPAL

oleksandra.podhorna@gmail.com

Subject: BG First Aid Kits