Monaco’s G-Spot

Screenshot from the homepage of a Monaco pizza service. I have deleted their info.

Reading the British press over the past week and the news of Sarah Everard’s disappearance and now confirmed murder, I have been shocked by the hundreds of stories women have shared about living in fear of walking home at night and harassment.

Jenny Jones for the UK’s Green Party suggested a possible “amendment to create a curfew for men on the streets after 6 pm” adding “I feel this would make women a lot safer, and discrimination of all kinds would be lessened.”

In Monaco, the question of security has come up in every conversation I’ve had with single women – who between 25 and 64 make up 7.7% of the population, see chart at end – and the idea of being able to walk home in safety at night was the biggest incentive in moving to the Principality, outweighing the exorbitant rent.

Having lived in Nice for nearly two decades, the deteriorating sense of safety during the last five years is what drove me to move. Even in the Carré d’Or, a block from the Negresco, I would not go out by myself after 10 pm. But I have never been harassed. Or have I? Looking back over my years in France, I can recall four times men have exposed themselves to me:

1/ walking home from the bus in Bois Fleuri in Biot a pantless man confronted me and started masturbating.

2/ after seeing Radiohead at the Frejus amphitheater, waiting for the train home a man in très short shorts whipped out his penis and started yanking on the stairway.

3/ my personal favourite, stopped at a red light on the southbound outside lane at blvd Gambetta and rue de la Buffa in Nice, a drunk came up to the passenger side, unzipped his beige cords and smudged his penis in a slow windshield-wiper motion against the window. My car was wedged in, I had to wait for the light.

4/ Walking the dog on the Prom in Nice, some guy called out for help and when I turned he starting jerking off and laughing.

Then of course there are the countless zizis I’ve unwillingly come across as men in France deem fit to urinate anywhere in public, which is still a culture shock having grown up in Canada.

It brings to mind an interview with Ricardo Antonio Chavira, who was at the 2005 Monte-Carlo TV Festival when I attended for People Magazine. Discussing his character Carlos Solis on the then new series Desperate Housewives, he said when the show first aired in the US, men would stop him on the street to berate him for bringing such a macho character back on TV between because it made their wives angry. in Europe, he said men offered him a congratulatory slap on the back for bringing back a macho character to TV.

But is being a macho European a green light for men to cause offense? I am no snowflake but when I read a headline like “Convincing Win For G-Spot” in reference to the Monaco team who won at the Primo Cup sailing regatta last Sunday, I can only sigh. This is not National Lampoon.

This type of hyper-sexualised culture feeds into the bigger picture of why young girls and women, regardless of their relationship status, feel unsafe. From inappropriate body references to catcalling, objectification sends a detrimental message. Even in my own case, I have somehow normalised public flashers.

I doubt a 6 pm curfew for all men is the answer but simply wishing a “Happy International Women’s Day” does not cut it. Maybe the headline “Convincing Win For Ball Sac” would help open the dialogue.

IMSEE’s most recent census statistics (2016) on women living in Monaco.

Age                Monégasque    Non-Monégasque
25-34                           384                  1,393
35-44                           486                  1,832
45-54                           705                  2,305
55-64                           675                  1,995

Age                Living w/partner         Not living w/partner
25-34                           1,078                           699
35-44                           1,750                           567
45-54                           2,162                           848
55-64                           1,785                           885

Susanne (Batstone) Bohush

“I am not as British as most people think,” reveals Susanne (Batstone) Bohush. Born in Ipswich, Suffolk, to a German mother and Ukrainian dad, she joined Lloyd’s bank as a Management Trainee at 18 and worked her way through all the departments including Human Resources. “It was there I learned the importance of teamwork, motivation and bringing out the best in people.”

In 1991, she decided to take a break in her career and moved to Roquebrune-Cap-Martin “initially for a couple of years.” She worked in Monaco starting in television and then the corporate world.

Four years later, when her daughter was one, she moved to Menton and has now lived there for more than half her life. “It was a safe place to bring up my two lovely children, who are now 27 and 24, and the town has certainly become livelier over the past few years with – in non-Covid times – lots of entertainment and activities.”

The former treasurer of the British Association Menton says she has always enjoyed helping people and been interested in personal development and holistic health. “I firmly believe in the link between mind, body and soul and am fascinated by the mind and the effect that our thoughts and emotions have on our physical wellbeing,” she remarks.

A chance meeting with an excellent retired Bach Flower Registered Practitioner (BFRP) trainer from the UK inspired her to study at the Bach Centre near Oxford where she completed her qualification in 2015.

Discovered by Dr Bach in the 1920s and 30s, Bach Flowers work by treating the person as a whole and work on any negative emotions by restoring inner harmony and balance. Dr Bach gave up his renowned Harley Street practice to concentrate on helping his clients in this completely natural way.

“Bach Flowers are an excellent tool for fostering a greater understanding of oneself and help people towards being the best version of themselves,” explains Susanne, adding that her role as a practitioner is to help clients become more self-aware and autonomous, responsible for their own healing. 

“I have witnessed people becoming more resilient with greater confidence and a clearer vision of their life purpose. Their perception of painful outside events is calmer,” she shares. “I have also seen complete career changes and more ability to deal with day-to-day challenges.”

During Covid, Susanne has been able to do some online consultations. “People have been confronted with anxiousness, loneliness and fear more than usual.”

In addition to her full-time job in Monaco and work as a Bach Flower practitioner, Susanne has spent the last five years raising awareness and fundraising on behalf of Mothers of Africa UK, a charity in Wales founded by a friend in 2004.

In 2017, Mothers of Africa registered as a non-profit association and Organismes de Solidarité internationale in Monaco and two years later, Susanne took over as President of Mothers of Africa in Monaco (she is also Trustee of the UK Charity).

“We came on board in Monaco just as the Shiyala Primary School for 540 children was being built in Zambia. We work in the Chongwe district and our mission is to empower girls through education as we believe that through education they can take control of their lives, promote health and reduce poverty,” describes Susanne.

“We are a listening charity who never impose but wait to be invited. We have a great team, all volunteers, and have fun raising awareness and organising events.”

Typically across the year, Mothers of Africa would host a variety of events – dinners, bowling evenings, cycle rides, walks and a Christmas Market – as well as taking part in the annual Journée International Droit des Enfants and No Finish Line Monaco, but due to Covid they are limited to online functions.

They are hosting an African Dance Class on Zoom on International Women’s Day, Monday, March 8, at 7: 30 pm. “If anyone would like to take part, please make a donation through the White Feather Foundation campaign, which will go towards our next project – building a nursery school for 60 children, hopefully this summer. It is thanks to our ambassador, Julian Lennon, this joint campaign is possible.”

Susanne expressed that Mothers of Africa is also very happy to work with the International School of Monaco’s Philanthropy Club. “Our children at the Shiyala school have just received a very generous donation of solar lamps from Little Sun.com thanks to funds raised by the Early Years at the school,” she shares.

“I have been fortunate to visit Zambia twice, to help run a summer school for 25 children in 2017 and also to hand over the build of new classrooms at theEvergreen Primary School to the education authorities in 2019,” Susanne states.

“Since Covid, we have been working with a local women’s sewing circle in Chongwe, providing handmade face masks to the schools and district hospital. We have also provided PPE, signage and training for Covid to the hospital and given handmade sanitary protection packs to all the girls at the Shiyala and Evergreen schools. We will be extending this to all the girls, some 16,000 people, in the district over the next two years.”

During the Covid pandemic, Susanne has been either working from home or at her office in Monaco. “The time saved on travelling has given me more time to enjoy my garden,” she enthuses. “I have also discovered Zoom, which has been great for connecting.”

Covid has also brought the Mothers of Africa teams in UK and Monaco closer together, resulting in much brainstorming and new project ideas.

“It has been a great time of introspection and gratitude. I think it is very important to make the most of the situation as it is for the moment. Nothing is forever and staying positive rather than resisting definitely helps,” she observes.

Susanne (Batstone) Bohush’s next adventure is to start training to become a Sophrologist later this month. “I am excited to see where that leads me.”

When you make a donation through the White Feather Foundation to help Mothers of Africa Monaco build a nursery school for 50 children in Shiyala, Zambia, you will receive a link for the African Dance Class on Zoom that takes place March 8 at 7:30 pm.

Art-Box.Store

“Monaco has an amazing arts scene, especially for such a small country,” says Kashka Kornelak. “There are so many galleries featuring all kind of artists, from contemporary and modern masters to emerging young talent. Plus, there are many art associations, the ballet, opera, theatre, philharmonic orchestra, the Grimaldi Forum with its concerts and grandiose exhibitions … honestly, wherever you in Monaco, there is art!”

For years, Kashka has run a company that manages UHNW families and real estate assets but her passion has always been for art.

“And so Art-Box.Store was born and is soon launching,” smiles cofounder and CEO Kashka. “This international platform will help artists gain visibility with a worldwide audience of art aficionados and buyers, giving them both a virtual and real presence where they can share and sell their art.”

No small mission, she aims to promote artists, assist with scholarships and grant applications, as well as facilitate participation in competitions and artistic events around the world. “We also want to work together to build a real artistic community.”

Part of Kashka’s vision is to provide artists with “concierge” attention, enabling them to enter a future virtual world of art, where access to multimedia exhibitions, shows, and materials related to art will be easier than before.

Before Valentine’s Day, she put on a 4-day show “All We Need Is Love” with Daniel Boeri and Gallery L’Entrepôt at 22 rue de Millo. “We had so many more visitors that we expected,” Kashka says. “The opening musical performance of artists from the Monaco International Performing Art Center, run by Claire Marsan-Amato, was beautiful. It made people nostalgic for the times we could simply enjoy the moments like this with a few friends.”

For Kashka, who has double Polish-French nationality, the show was a success with three sales, plus couple from their e-catalogue by people who visited the exhibition. “The challenge was with all sanitary measures in place and we still had difficulties to manage the crowd at the opening,” she admits.

Kashka Kornelak at ‘All We Need Is Love” exhibit.

For her third show, “My Art Goes Boom!” from March 6 to 11, Kashka is again partnering with Gallery L’Entrepôt. “Art is supposed to delight, surprise, sometimes shock but always awaken the senses,” enthuses Kashka. “And this show will be devoted to the explosion of creativity of our artists who express their emotions through their art making,”

Nîmes artist Joris Brantuas is at the origin of the project, promoting cultural inclusion and diversity in the world of art. Other exhibiting Monaco and French Riviera artists will include Jean Antoine Hierro, Manou Marzban, Nika Stanislavova, Anna Petrika, Golec&Golec, Edyta Sroczynska, Christine Franceschini, Sanna Bachmann, Bobsone and Dave Van Dorst.

“Each exhibit is accompanied by a multimedia catalogue presenting the exhibited works and artists. These catalogues are available to anyone interested in art and we send them to our individual clients and art lovers on a regular basis.”

Daniel Boeri, who owns L’Entrepôt and is a member of the National Counsel, shares the same vision of universal art without borders and creating an artists’ community of cultural exchange and mutual support. “His help is priceless,” says Kashka, who confesses she is a lover of the ballet.

In fact, when she’s not taking in the sea views from Starbucks by the Fairmont (and indulging in a piece of carrot cake), she can be found watching the Ballets de Monaco and her favourite Jean-Christophe Maillot creations like Abstract Life, Casse Noisette or Coppél-i.A.

Although Kashka moved to neighbouring France in 1983, she deeply admires Monaco for its ecological approach, security, international environment and many fascinating – “sometimes hidden” places. “I’m a BIG food lover so there are plenty of places that to go with friends, from top spots like Le Grill with its fantastic chicken and famous soufflé to my favourite place, Hirondelle in Thermes Marins because of their super healthy daily changing menus. I’ve been a member there for years.”

For Kashka Kornelak, “Covid has made time slow down for everybody and as we live outside of our comfort zones, we realise that nothing can be taken for granted. Personally, I had time to rest and rethink my life … and to start Art-Box.Store platform project.”

Stop by “My Art Goes Boom” at L’Entrepôt from March 6 to 11. Masks required.

During Covid and confinement, let’s make an effort to support local businesses and services. Do you have a business or service to recommend for I ❤︎  MONACO? Email: GoodNewsMonaco

Green Coffee Monaco

Carina Luis Y Prado, Managing Director of Green Coffee Monaco.

Born in the largest coffee producing region in the world, it is no wonder Carina Luis Y Prado was attracted to work in the industry.

The Managing Director of Green Coffee Monaco was educated in the US and Europe and moved to Monaco in 2013. “I came to here to expose my children to this very International environment and also with the idea of exploring business opportunities. Obviously being of South American heritage, I have been exposed to coffee from an early age and have always had a passion for good coffee, as has my family,” says Carina Luis Y Prado.

The startup Green Coffee Monaco began with the idea of “an environmentally-friendly, high-quality coffee experience that was both organic and affordable.” To achieve this, the company focused on three main areas: first, they had to use organic coffee beans, mainly from South America, grown and collected using natural processes without any added chemicals. Second, the packaging materials and sealing processes, such as using biodegradable/compostable capsules, had to be environmentally friendly. And third, artificial flavour enhancers and preservatives had to be avoided in the production process.

“The quality of the beans is essential to obtain the best coffee result,” explains Carla. “This is why we only work with coffees classified as organic grands cru, fair-trade certified and harvested by hand for a selection of quality beans. Most of our products come from South America – Brazil, Guatemala and Colombia.”

The global coffee capsule market is competitive. According to a ResearchAndMarkets.com report, the market accounted for $8,327.19 million in 2019 and is expected to hit $14,062.20 million by 2027, with a compound annual growth rate of 7.0%.

The findings also showed that “the benefit of consuming coffee capsule is that the vacuum packing ensures hygiene and prevents external agents, such as oxygen, humidity, and heat, from entering inside.”

In 2018, according to British coffee capsule maker Halo, more than 400 Nespresso coffees were consumed every second but only 30% of their 12 billion capsules were recycled. (A 2020 Channel 4 documentary exposed the coffee giant to child labour at farms.)

Carina reveals, “There are 56 billion coffee capsules produced every year in the world and the material chosen is aluminium and plastic, materials which require 500 years to be absorbed. This represents a tremendous environmental impact on our planet with no sign of slowing any time soon.”

“On the other hand, the capsules from Green Coffee Monaco are 100% biodegradable and compostable, requiring only a few weeks to decompose naturally, with no additional process required, just throw them away and they decompose by themselves.”

Green Coffee Monaco uses a top-of-the-line organic grand cru selection of coffees and uses no added preservatives or flavour enhancers. And their coffee is cheaper than aluminium or plastic capsules – for a box of 10 capsules, Green Coffee Ristretto sells for €3.50 versus Nespresso Ristretto at €3.70.

“Conventional coffee is among the most heavily chemically treated foods in the world,” Carina states. “In the case of organic coffee, which accounts for 6.6% of the total world harvested coffee, there are no synthetic fertilizers or chemicals in growing or producing the coffee beans, which means cleaner beans, air, land and water. In other words, en fin, un café ecolo.”

In addition to 8 varieties of organic roasted coffee in biodegradable capsules, Green Coffee Monaco also sells 8 varieties of organic roasted coffee beans and ground coffee, which can be found in Monaco at Casino in the Port, La Vie Claire, Marché U, Spar Metropole, Carrefour City in Millefiori and, from April, Carrefour Monaco in Fontvieille, and at their “Capsule” boutique at CAP3000. You’ll also find their other products, such as organic green coffee beans for medicinal purposes and organic tea.

“We have also created a first of its kind product line of ‘fruit infusions with green coffee beans,’ a delicious hot drink preparation to replace tea,” announces Carina, adding, “Our immediate future plans target also the production of other beverages based on green coffee beans, such as our first ICE D-Tox beverage – a booster/detox beverage made with green coffee beans, lime, mint and other natural ingredients. We plan to produce several more flavours in the near future.”

Also available through their website are various GCM coffee machines for professional, office and home use.

“Of course, we have been impacted very much by Covid restrictions, like any other business, but especially our clients in the hotel and restaurant industry,” Carina shares.

“This is why we have invested in our website to reach our customers in this region directly but also anywhere in Europe. We strongly believe in our products and the contribution that we can make towards a cleaner environment while enjoying a high-quality coffee experience.”

During Covid and confinement, let’s make an effort to support local businesses and services. Do you have a business or service to recommend for I ❤︎  MONACO? Email: GoodNewsMonaco

Chrissie McClatchie

Chrissie McClatchie is one of the region’s most established freelancer journalist. FromWine Enthusiast to easyJet Traveller, and from Business Insider to Superyacht Digest, the Australian from the Northern Beaches of Sydney demonstrates her lexical versatility in wine, travel and yachting, subjects often associated with life on the Côte d’Azur.

It was in 1993 when Chrissie first came to France to visit one of her sisters (she has four much older siblings) living in Lyon. She was accompanied by her geologist dad and mom, who was born in Vietnam to French parents. “I still remember that flight with the now-defunct airline UTA,” Chrissie recalls. “It had started in New Caledonia before stopping in Sydney, Jakarta and maybe Melbourne, and was full of returning compulsory conscripts who spent the whole flight smoking. As soon as we landed at CDG, they all cheered and kissed the tarmac. It was pretty impressionable to a 12-year-old who had never left New South Wales before.”

She returned to France a few years later with her mom to spend Christmas with her sister, who by then was working with her husband as villa guardians in Saint-Paul-de-Vence. “That is the moment when my love affair with the South of France started,” she says.

Chrissie has had Australian-French dual nationality since she was eight and even though her mom never spoke French at home, she did emphasise her European roots to the family.

“My mom and I used to follow my dad on his geological trips to the bush and we’d often visit a town called Mudgee, where mom would take me to cellar doors while he was working. I remember deciding, much to her delight , that I wanted to be a winemaker.”

Both wine and France would niggle in her brain for years to come.

By the time she graduated high school, her sister, who was now living in Nice and had just had a baby, suggested that Chrissie come over for a gap year to improve her French. “I spent nine months studying in the morning at the Alliance Française on rue de Paris and quickly found an international friendship circle. I loved the global vibe, beach picnics, ease of travel, and sense of history, although I may have spent too much time in Vieux Nice, particularly at Chez Wayne’s and Thor!”

Post-immersion, she returned to Australia to study Medieval History and language at the University of Sydney and in 2002 vended up back in France as part of a six-month exchange in La Rochelle, in the southwest of the country.

Clearly cut out for the jet-set life, as soon as her exams were done, she took a “trip of a lifetime,” travelling through the Middle East – Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Turkey, Lebanon, Georgia, Armenia and Iran (“It was incredible to visit places like Palmyra that have suffered at the hands of IS”) – and then spent some time in Washington DC as another sister had moved to the US. “I volunteered at the Smithsonian, which was incredible, but as I couldn’t get a work visa I booked a cheap flight to Nice and gave myself six months to find a job.”

When in wine country

Within the first week of arriving in the Mediterranean city, she got a job at Vins sans Frontieres (VSF), fine wine and spirits provisioning for yachts.

“There is actually a thriving local wine community here, with four Masters of Wine – the highest qualification in the wine world – living in and or around Nice, plus plenty of other interesting characters.”

She worked at VSF from 2007 to 2014, and was mentored by Rod Smith, a Master of Wine, and Helen Brotherton, a WSET diploma graduate. “We all had a crash course in the superyacht world, though.”

She wouldn’t realise at the time, but she had really fallen into a niche segment of the market. “The wine yachts order for their owners or charters is really top end – the best chateaux, the best vintages – but the flip side is that ‘no’ isn’t an answer.”

As Chrissie points out, acclaimed wines may be produced in finite quantities but as a yacht supplier you have to make sure you can find what your clients want, when they want (“yesterday”). “It is definitely more competitive now than it was when I first started. I remember a client calling at 2 pm on a Friday afternoon and by 4 pm we were delivering €80,000 of wine to his yacht in the port of Nice. I think now quotes and management company approvals would be required.”

The job was demanding but there were some incredible perks. “I will never forget a three-day trip to Champagne as guests of LVMH. We had dinner at Veuve Clicquot and Krug and a tour and tasting with the Dom Perignon winemaker,” she describes.

Chrissie started to share her local wine discoveries on her blog Riviera Grapevine, which became “the catalyst for everything that has happened in my career since.” It led her to the Bellet vineyards, behind Nice, doing cellar door tours of both Château de Bellet and Château de Crémat but, most importantly, led to regular writing work. “I have had great opportunities come my way from people discovering the blog, starting with a column for the Riviera Reporter. It all helped me build a portfolio that took me to The CEO Magazine, a global business publication that profiles high-level executives from around the world.” By this point, she was back in Australia.

The CEO

Chrissie and her Irish husband, whom she met though friends in Nice, decided to move to Australia in 2016 for a year. “We just had our first child and it seemed like the best time to head back home. The CEO Magazine was my first in-house writing role. I learnt so much about the magazine production process in the ten months I was physically there but while it was great to be near family, there were lots I missed about Europe.”

In 2017, the family moved back to France, swapping Nice for Villefranche, where they have very much embraced French village life, playing football with the local club and sending the kids to public school. “Even though I have spent the best part of my adult life here, I still feel like an Australian in France. And I think I always will.”

Bilingual Chrissie has been working remotely for The CEO Magazine since June 2019. “Last week I interviewed the CEO of La Monnaie de Paris, the French Mint, as well as the CEO and Founder of a Swiss electric vehicle company. No profile is ever the same, which keeps the role exciting and challenging.”

The magazine has five editions (ANZ/EMEA/North America/India/Asia) and Chrissie writes across them all. “The cover story on Calin Rovinescu, CEO of Air Canada, was a particular favourite as it was just when Covid hit and air travel ground to a halt. A tricky, topical subject and the client loved the story!” she enthuses.

Chrissie also writes travel and lifestyle features for the monthly magazine. “Last year’s Norway trip was a definite highlight. A five-day cruise with Viking from London to Tromsø in search of the Northern Lights – although the story is still on hold because no one can leave Australia to travel.”

She has tapped into her base in Nice to become a local expert on the French Riviera and her travel stories have appeared in easyJet Traveller and The Culture Trip. “For Atlas Obscura, I really enjoyed tracking down Philippe Arnello, the man behind Nice’s midday cannon, and witnessing him light the cannon at noon.”

Hands down, her proudest publication moment was in easyJet Traveller. “I love the magazine’s fun spirit and it has always been the goal publication for me. I pitched a behind-the-scenes Nice carnival story for the February issue and found the perfect angle – a new, high-tech piece of equipment that the carnavaliers were using to sculpt the floats. I’d sent numerous pitches for other stories before with no bites but this one in late December was commissioned two hours after my email – and I filed it five days later. I was actually flying on easyJet the day the issue was released and it was cool to see my name in print, fresh off the press.”

Thanks to a year as a content editor for Relevance in Monaco and some freelance content marketing for yachting companies, Chrissie has also penned for industry publications like Dockwalk and Superyacht Digest. “I love having the chance to tell unique stories, like digging into the world of designing crew quarters on yachts and speaking to Espen Oeino, Zaniz and Winch Design.”

Covid when you’re already working from home

As a freelancer, Covid lockdowns fortunately haven’t affected Chrissie’s writing routine. “Since I already work from home, I’ve been able to continue to do so since the pandemic hit, even when schools were closed. I’m lucky to have the backing of a supportive employer at CEO mag,” she admits.

She wrote a piece “A postcard from the future: Living in lockdown in France” for The CEO Magazine, an insider’s view on how one of the world’s toughest confinements touched the community of Villefranche, including Foccaceria Mei, the local cold cuts and cheese shop where Alessandro (above) lives across the border in San Remo, Italy.

Chrissie had just cracked the airline magazine market when Covid brought travel to its knees. “I had four stories –Turkish Airlines, Hemispheres for United, easyJet and N by Norwegian – that I doubt will see the light of day. Yet at the same time, there was a wealth of more news features and I started writing about real estate and yachting pandemic angles for Business Insider. The work has been there, it’s just about taking a different approach.”

Chrissie can imagine much worse circumstances than her household of four (she has a 5- and 3-year-old), which has some outdoor space. “As a mom, I’m rarely out in the evening and with the French schools open and the 6 pm curfew like there is now, things don’t feel too different. I am looking forward, though, to having a meal at some of my favourite restaurants when they re-open.”

Like many other working moms, Chrissie, says her biggest accomplishment is being able to juggle young children and a career. “To have landed a dream in-house journalist role at a global publication when my first child was 12-months-old and to be able to continue to acquire career skills while having another is something I am immensely proud of.”

All photos courtesy of Chrissie McClatchie.

A Cantina

David and Jeanne Rossi of A Cantina. Photo: Nancy Heslin

From a young age, David Rossi has been passionate about cooking and so it was no surprise that he studied four years at the Lycée Technique et Hôtelier de Monaco (where you can lunch at the Cordon d’Or restaurant for €21) to focus on becoming a chef. “My interest in food is thanks to my Italian grandmother for whom I have nothing but culinary memories.”

The Monegasque opened A Cantina on October 26, 2020, having spent 12 years working in kitchens across the Principality, including the now-demolished Piedra Del Sol Mexican restaurant on rue du Portier and Pasta Palace in Galerie Park Palace, which became Valentin in 2013 and is now A Cantina.

“We seized an opportunity and after a long battle we were successful in opening A Cantina,” David explains, adding that they have a different clientele than Valentin, ranging from those working in the area to friends he grew up with to tourists passing by.

The 38-year-old had been trying to open his own restaurant for 13 years, a dream he has shared with his wife Jeanne, whom he met when they worked together way back at Pasta Palace.

“My first day of work at Pasta Palace in 2007 I saw David working in the kitchen and I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him,” reminisces Jeanne, who grew up in Vallée de la Roya. “Eight months later we were together and we have now been married nine years.”

Above and beyond offering great service and bringing together friends and family over a meal, Jeanne says they hope the passion David channels into his dishes will evoke a childhood memory for their customers, a link to a wonderful emotion or convivial moment of yesteryear.

A Cantina’s menu is seasonal so changes every three months. “Our menu is simple but all of our products are fresh and seasonal so you won’t find tomatoes in December,” David assures. In addition to the 8 or 9 rotating dishes for the weekly menu (they are closed weekends), there is a plat du jour for €16, including a non-alcoholic beverage and coffee, or €20 if you want dessert also.

They also prepare tasty Apèro boxes (€18) which include hot (say, barbajuans) and cold (charcuterie) dishes that you can order before 4 pm (+377 93 50 60 00) for pick-up before 6.

In normal times, A Cantina will be open Monday to Friday from 7 am to 5 pm, with tapas evenings and wine tastings on Thursday and Friday. Currently with Covid, they can only serve lunch only from 11 am to 3 pm but by the end of the month they will be offering takeaway and delivery.

As the restaurant industry has suffered immeasurably from Covid restrictions over the past year, David Rossi says “it was now or never” in taking the leap to open A Cantina. “Covid teaches us to question ourselves and to push ourselves beyond our limits. There are six of us working here – including Sophie and Claire who we worked together with when it was Pasta Palace – and we are a true family, same boat, same fight!”

A Cantina
27 ave de la Costa
Galerie Park Palace

Food images courtesy of A Cantina.

During Covid and confinement, let’s make an effort to support local businesses and services. Do you have a business or service to recommend for I ❤︎  MONACO? Email: GoodNewsMonaco

Mairead Molloy

Yasmine Ackram with Mairead Molloy for RTÉ2’s Irish in Wonderland. Photo RTÉ2 Press Center.

In another life, or some 20 years ago, relationship psychologist Mairead Molloy decided to put her degree in hotel management to good use and bought a small hotel in Cannes. She had “great fun” running it for seven years despite the occasional culture clashes between the Irish and the French.

“Sure, it was hard but there are cultural differences between neighbouring villages in both countries so you have a choice – get on with it or bury your head in the sand,” says Mairead, who hails from Wexford. “I did struggle at the beginning but I learned French, which definitely helps, and have gotten used to how the locals think and behave.”

Part of her language improvement came from her partner. “Marrying a French man was indeed challenging but divorcing him was even more challenging,” she remarks with a smile.

She sold the hotel and moved to the UK and picked up a Psychology BSc and then a Masters in International Law at Birkbeck, University of London. It was then that she stumbled upon Berkeley International, a specialist elite dating agency and international introduction agency offering an exclusive matchmaking service to find perfect partners and soul mates for discerning and affluent members.

“I have been the Global Director of Berkeley International for 17 years and I still actively run it day-to-day. As a global operation, we have never been so busy. Covid has really made people see what is valuable in life,” she shares.

It’s Valentine’s Day and who better to ask about love than Mairead? “There are songs and books and films about this but for me, love is finding that one person that you are totally yourself with, and you can’t imagine what your life was like before they came along.” She points out, “Relationships depend, though, on what each party brings to the table and people tend to want love all wrapped up under the umbrella of Keepers-Friends-Laughter-Fun.”

One true love is not her philosophy but Mairead, who says “it only took me 52 years to find love,” does believe that it is rare to find that someone that fits perfectly to you. “We make mistakes in our early years and so hindsight is a great friend so follow your instincts I say … you can’t go wrong.”

For Mairead, the biggest mistakes super-wealthy clients make when looking for that perfect partner are being too fussy with lengthy wish lists and not managing themselves and their expectations properly. Also, thinking sometimes they know better than the professionals.

“Dating agencies offer a sense of security as everyone you meet is vetted and we take the stress out of dating someone, clients never face online rejection,” explains Mairead, who was featured in RTÉ2’s “Irish in Wonderland” program on Monaco in 2017.

“Our membership has increased over 200% since coronavirus began and couples are getting together quicker – our success rate has gone up by nearly 80%. That’s not to say people are settling but they have become less picky realising what their real priorities are now,” she conveys.

“We even had an engagement over lockdown, a man in Brazil met one of our members in Milan and after a few zoom calls and they decided to meet up in Paris, where they are now living an planning their wedding and futured together.”

Mairead reveals that her psychology background “comes in very useful in the dating business,” but as a qualified relationship psychologist and eating disorder specialist she also concurrently runs her own consulting company, Mairead Molloy, which focuses more on specialist disciplines, from nutritional interventions for eating disorders and psychological approaches for dealing with obesity to marriage mediation and coping with being single.

“I have noticed over the years that food and weight are big factors in relationships,” she states. “How we feel about our bodies and how we look have a massive impact on our self-confidence, which has a roll-on effect as to how we manage or harm our relationships, even preventing us from having one altogether.”

Monaco and the South of France can be pretty tough for people who struggle with body image. “Most eating disorders are triggered by someone deciding to go on a diet. It becomes no sugar, no fat, or whole food groups could be eliminated. It really depends on what you believe, what piece of information you take to an extreme: I’m not going to eat any bread, or I’m not going to eat anything with salt on it, for example.”

She says irregular appearance or disappearance of food in the household can indicate an eating disorder, as can a new anxiety around particular foods. “Look for whether a person has changed their thinking around food – talking constantly about food, weight or calories if they never really talked about those subjects before. Or if a person who was once not picky becomes inflexible about the type or amount of food they eat.”

Overexercising is one sign that gets overlooked in this culture. “Rapid or extreme weight loss or gain is another sign of an eating disorder. As is when people start eating because of emotions rather than for hunger or appetite.”

She implores, “Talk to someone. Early detection, initial evaluation and effective treatment are important steps that can help an eating disorder sufferer move into recovery more quickly, preventing the disorder from progressing to a more severe or chronic state.”

The Covid pandemic has taken a toll on all of us. Mairead says last year Covid gave her time to sit back and breathe for a while. “Now it is a very frustrating time indeed but I take the good with the bad and am grateful for what I have. Business wise, building personal relationships is vital and person-to-person has become screen-to-screen taking away that personalisation of how we work.”

Mairead has not seen her family face-to-face for over a year now. “That really hurts but the pandemic has also shown me how resilient we all are.”

Her advice this Valentine’s Day? “Be kind and do something thoughtful for someone,” encourages Mairead Molloy.

More From Good News, Monaco’s Valentine’s Special Edition

Walter Raymond

Former chaplain at St. Paul’s Anglican Church Monaco, Father Raymond Walter, leaves us at age 72.

Beth Curtis

As owner of the TapHouse in Villefranche since 2018, Beth Curtis was featured on two seasons of Channel 4’s series A New Life in the Sun. Business took off but then Covid hit. Now, her bar is facing an even bigger crisis and she needs your help.

Gavin Sharpe

“I felt trapped in my corporate success,” says Gavin Sharpe. “However corporate life had seduced me, it controlled me rather than the other way around.”

His recruitment company, SSQ, was independently ranked by The Sunday Times as one of the best companies to work for and was placed as the most profitable in its sector. “I was losing my identity. Something was missing and that something was me,” he states.

Having grown up in a small village in Hertfordshire and studied in London, once Gavin sold his company he yearned for a different lifestyle and kinder climate. “My parents had lived in Monaco and it felt familiar. It was one of those defining moments and the start of an adventure that began some six years ago and which feels like it is just unfolding,” he describes about relocating to one of the safest countries in the world.

Gavin jumped off the corporate bus and into a career that “allowed me to be authentic and congruent. I had enjoyed my own therapy and developed a passion for the field of psychotherapy.”

As a counsellor, coach and therapist, he is now on his true life path. “The calling had always been there. When I was ready to listen, it spoke to me. I wish it was less of a cliché but it is true,” he admits.

Comparing the amount of time and money we spend on our physical wellbeing (yoga, Pilates, breathing, healthy eating) versus our mental wellbeing, Gavin observes, “I bet we are more comfortable telling the boss that we are leaving the office early for a Pilates class than for a therapy appointment. Men are certainly more likely to say they have a personal trainer to lose weight rather than a therapist to help with their erectile dysfunction!”

He believes the taboo arises from a lack of awareness and education about mental illness. “Sadly, some people do not seek out treatment due to the self-perceived stigma. Perhaps one good thing to emerge from the Covid pandemic is that there seems to be a willingness to talk about the cost on our mental health. Who knew that when you lock up humankind and hide the key, it impacts our emotional wellbeing?”

Gavin wants to make mental health more accessible and is excited by a new partnership with Rivera Radio. “Wellbeing Window” will be an hour on the first Wednesday of each month at 9 am CET addressing a topic on mental health and inviting listeners to write in with their questions.

“It was brave of Rob Harrison and Sarah Lycett to have me on the Full English Breakfast Show back in 2019. We broke new ground. I think there was a fear that people would be drowning in their cornflakes, and as a result, listeners would tune out. Instead, we found them tuning in. When I appeared last on New Year’s Eve, I ended up staying for longer than scheduled as the number of listeners writing in rocketed. Rob and Sarah have an amazing talent in being able to discuss deep and meaningful subjects that touch us all and seconds later they have us roaring with laughter over something meaningless and mundane.”

For Gavin, there is another dimension to wellbeing that has been forgotten. In his upcoming book on how we can follow our true life path rather than the one we find ourselves on, he has dedicated a chapter to Financial Wellbeing. “We all have money scripts, a set of beliefs or values about money. Do I deserve money? Is money good or bad? What does money represent to me?” he asks. “When a couple argues about money, it is never about the money per se. It is about what the money represents. I have studied financial disorders and run money intensives with individuals and couples to help them explore these deep-rooted issues.”

On Covid
Gavin’s appointment calendar was already pretty busy before a pandemic forced us to face unprecedented issues as couples. “You could have been the most solid couple in the world but if you are in lockdown in a small apartment with three children and home schooling, your relationship will likely have felt the strain. Couples who were struggling before the pandemic have unsurprisingly felt the cracks widen.”

He adds, “I think it is unhealthy for couples to be living and working together with this level of intensity. Relationships need to breathe and need spontaneity and creativity to fuel ongoing desire. The pandemic has the potential to kill desire – unless you are single in which case, you might not know what to do with your desire! There is usually hope for struggling couples. The key is to seek help before contempt sets in.”

For Gavin, the popular media is full of titillating stories informing us that the divorce rate will spiral while others indicate the opposite. “The truth is probably somewhere in between. What we do know from studies of past pandemics, such as SARS and Ebola, is that psychological reactions such as panic, depression, loneliness, anxiety, stress, grief, anxiety and PTSD are common. This obviously has entered into our relationships during the Covid pandemic.”

On Expats
A study released this year showed that US expats were two and a half times more likely to experience anxiety and depression than their US-based counterparts. “I am sure it is the same for expats based in Monaco and the South of France,” Gavin insists.

“Expats sometimes tell me they feel trapped and long for their roots. Many have moved around in childhood and coming to the Riviera is just one more notch in their portable bedpost. When we move around, we experience loss. We leave behind family, friendships, rituals and routines. I think the wellbeing litmus test for expats is the extent to which we allow ourselves to grieve those losses or do we just move on?”

For Gavin, expats can also suffer from “I should” syndrome. I should be happy. Look where I live. I have no right to be miserable. (He once replied, “If I was married to your husband, I’d be miserable, too.”) “The point is that we have to allow ourselves to experience our emotions wherever we live. Living by the sea is not a passport to happiness. We still have to work at it.”

In this part of the world, he sees men and women facing different challenges. “There is a power dynamic which troubles me. Many women move to join their breadwinner husbands. The men carry on largely as before while the women often find themselves dependent and isolated. That sometimes leaves the door open to control and abuse. Even without this dynamic, I think Monaco can be an intimidating place for women to integrate.”

He advises that if you are going to live in or around Monaco, it is helpful to know your relationship with money. “This is not the place to compete. There will always be someone out there with more. More money. More cars. More wives. I’ve worked with many successful business people who are trying to heal a childhood wound with the purchase of a larger yacht. It’s not going to happen. Heal the wound first and then think about the yacht.”

On Group Therapy
Gavin works with individuals and couples who are looking to make profound changes in their relationships and lives. “As a therapist, I wear many hats. Alongside my Masters in Integrative Psychotherapy, I am also trained in addiction, trauma and relationship and sex therapy. My services and workshops reflect this.”

He currently runs three weekly online groups – one exclusively for men, one for women and, as he is the only certified sex addiction therapist in the Riviera, the third is for male sex and love addicts.

He also holds intensive weekends throughout the year for people coming to terms with addiction. “One of my most popular workshops is my two-day couple’s wellbeing intensive. I love this workshop. It’s not so much about resolving problems – although it can be – but more about rediscovering love and building deeper intimacy and connection. We are all craving connection, pandemic or not.”

Connection is also part of what makes a good therapist. “I could have a hundred initials after my name but if we don’t have chemistry and click, I am likely to be the wrong therapist for you. Only work with me if you connect with me. That’s my mantra. The relationship is key.”

A good therapist will most likely have trained at a reputable educational establishment, ideally up to or beyond a Masters level. Therapy is an unregulated profession in the UK, so Gavin choose to be a member of several professional associations to ensure he is held accountable to the highest standards.

He underlines that a client also needs to feel that therapy offers a safe and confidential space, offline or online. “And comfortable chairs help!”

Attending a group is usually less expensive than attending one-to-one therapy which can be why some people chose only group sessions. “Let me say at the outset, I am passionate about groups. There is a lot of research which has tested the efficacy of groups. They can be transformational. Sometimes what we seek is an acknowledgment from others who have walked in our shoes and groups provide this collective empathy. Participants are able to see their pain in others and vice versa,” he emphasises.

“I don’t see group therapy as better but more as a therapy tool in the whole wellbeing toolkit. Many people find it helpful to participate in both group therapy and individual psychotherapy.”

Being a therapist on the French Riviera is unique. “I can go out for dinner and see three or four clients. My clients know that I will ignore them and respect their privacy. Sometimes we laugh about it in session.”

ON GAVIN
Like many of us, Gavin learned to mask his inward lack of confidence. “Growing up, we all experience attachment wounds – for example abuse, neglect, betrayal, loss or abandonment – and those wounds impact how loveable and worthy we believe ourselves to be. For a long time, I didn’t feel worthy and for a while, I disguised my wounds even from myself. I became what I thought others expected of me. It led to my success in the corporate world that I mentioned earlier but left a sense of emptiness inside,” he relates.

His upcoming show on Riviera Radio on March 3rd will address that inner critic and voice inside our head that often undermines our accomplishments leaving us feeling guilt and/or shame.

“I’ve learned to silence my inner critic. Of course, it crops up every now and then but like my clients, I, too, am always evolving,” says Gavin Sharpe. 

Remember to post your Pink Ribbon Monaco photos holding
a sign with a message of support this Sunday, February 14.
#seinvalentin #Pinkribbonmonaco

Marketa Häkkinen

Marketa Häkkinen. Photos Danny Meier Photography.

It was at a 2007 golf tournament in Cologne when Markéta Remešová met her future husband, Mika Häkkinen. It wasn’t long after that the two-time F1 World Champion invited her to move to Monaco.

“Monaco was overwhelming at first,” Marketa confesses. Born in the western Czech Republic countryside, the Pilsen native spoke only Czech and German, later learning English and some basic French. “I have always been very low-key and worked hard for everything I have so it was not easy to step into Monaco society. Over time, though, I have developed a real appreciation for living here.”

A former dancer, Marketa graduated as a fashion designer in 1996 in her home country and at her winter wonderland wedding in Rovaniemi to Mika in January 2017, she designed her wedding dress. That same year, she started her own label Nordic Angels and showcased at Monte Carlo Fashion Week.

Now Marketa has launched Love Fertility Coaching in Monaco. “Trying to have a baby with my husband was not so easy,” the mom of three shares. “In school, they only teach you about not getting pregnant – “if you stop the pill, you’re going to get pregnant” – but no one speaks about what happens if you can’t get pregnant.”

She and Mika decided to see a doctor, did the necessary tests and were told that everything was in working order. “The doctor’s message was to keep trying but after a year and no pregnancy, IVF treatment was suggested and that failed. All those doctors just kept sending us for test after test without ever finding anything and then when IVF didn’t work, they didn’t know what to say.”

Marketa decided to take matters into her own hands. She signed up to online university to study a holistic and medical approach to infertility, to research and study how the human body works. ‘I was able to understand what was going on with me and was truly sad that not one of those doctors was able to help me,” she admits.

Creating her own holistic fertility program to follow with her Finnish husband, she got pregnant after four months. “I was overwhelmed with happiness and today my lovely Ella is ten,” Marketa radiates.

Two year later, her “beautiful twins” Lynn and Daniel arrived. (They are now seven). “When I became pregnant, my friends and their friends struggling with the same infertility problems came to me, and I was so pleased to help them with my holistic fertility approach. All of them got pregnant naturally or I helped prepare them for IVF treatment,” she explains.

This was the beginning of her business idea. “Infertility is mentally and physically painful and I would like to help every woman who is going through this, to give them information that can spare them from pain and frustration. There are many environmental reasons as to why the world is getting more and more infertile coupled with, unfortunately, little knowledge of women’s general health.”

During spring lockdown last year, Marketa used the time to finish her studies and create her company Love Fertility Coaching. “With my ten years of infertility experience along with many happy pregnancies, my business had an easy start. I hope many other future couples will also get pregnant with a healthy baby.”

Love Fertility Coaching offers a one-on-one three-month program – to get your body balanced and ready for conception naturally or for those undergoing IVF treatment – as well as an intensive 8-week Wake-Up Fertility group coaching program for up to four women. She also just added new pre-menopause and menopause programs.

Working mostly online from home, Marketa has been able to connect with women around the world. “Every nationality is different and you can see how each country educates women on general health, mostly missing out on quality information concerning infertility. I hope over the years we can bring a more holistic fertility approach to Europe because it would be easier for different cultures to accept the issue. Some countries, like the US, are so advanced with fertility education so it is easier to communicate with women about how they are feeling.”

Marketa says that women are still really shy about talking infertility. “They are hiding behind the pain and waiting for a miracle to happen but if they know that I understand what they are feeling, they start to open up and are ready to take the next steps. There is no shame in being infertile; the shame is not finding the root of the fertility problem.”

Does she have any advice for couples who are struggling with infertility? “Don’t give up and don’t be ashamed to ask for help if your pregnancy is not happening after six months of trying, especially as the quality of your eggs decreases massively after age 35. Trust a holistic approach, we are able to find the root of your fertility issue whereas doctors can only treat your symptoms,” she emphasises.

Covid hasn’t really impacted Marketa’s new business as she works remotely for the most part but she has noticed an increase of interest from clients in group fertility over private coaching. As a result, she has decided to launch “One Go,” a personalised plan but without follow-up. “My goal is to make fertility programs affordable for everyone,” says Marketa Häkkinen.

Photos by Danny Meier Photography courtesy of Marketa Häkkinen.

Remember to post your Pink Ribbon Monaco photos holding
a sign with a message of support this Sunday, February 14.
#seinvalentin #Pinkribbonmonaco

Kaitlin Kraemer

American Kaitlin Kraemer grew up playing a variety of instruments, taking dance lessons, and trying her hand at painting courses.

“While I’ve not descended from a family of creatives per say, my parents have a great appreciation for the arts,” she says. “I suppose my folks recognized my passion for the arts at a young age and did everything they could to foster that.”

A full-time artist whose solo exhibit “Confessions Intimes” is at the Monaco Yacht Club this week, Kaitlin originally decided to major in Anthropology and minor in Studio Fine Arts. “This stemmed from this innate passion for creating, as well as my desire to understand human behaviour – why we do what we do, think how we think, love what we love – and how many of these traits and evolutions are quite similar cross-culturally,” she explains.

An opportunity to study in Aix-en-Provence came at the recommendation of her undergraduate arts professor and mentor, Walter Hatke, who believed she was an ideal candidate for this immersive painting program. “He strongly encouraged me to apply to the summer semester course at The Marchutz School of Fine Arts. The experience honed my French language skills and really legitimised my own ability to see myself as an artist,” she recounts.

That summer of 2007 she fell in love with painting, as well as with the South of France, which influenced her permanent move back to France in early 2018. “I decided to return to a part of the world that I love, to continue to do what I love – in the sunshine, with a glass of rosé. As a full-time as an artist, you have the unique ability to live and work from anywhere.”

The move, she says, definitely wasn’t a seamless or easy transition although being proficient in French helped, as does being an extrovert. “There have been many ups and downs, but that is par for the course when you’re an expat. I wouldn’t change any of it – except, perhaps, having my family closer. Being so geographically distant from them has been the only downside.”

Kaitlin has been painting regularly for 15 years now, but didn’t become a full-time artist until 2017. “The decision was one part mind-numbingly terrifying, the other part, an absolute necessity. I woke up one morning and realised how stuck and unhappy I felt in my seemingly ‘perfect’ life – I had a good job, a husband, lived in a nice apartment, but was fundamentally unhappy and unsatisfied. So I did something about it.”

Within six months, she changed everything about her life: she gave notice at work, filed for divorce, left London where she had been living for four years and moved back into her parents’ house in the US, and enrolled on a year-long rigorous graduate arts program at Tufts University.

“I look back at that time now and it both shocks and thrills me. I kind of can’t believe I had the courage to do it, but am incredibly grateful that I followed my instinct and made it happen. It’s not been an easy journey, but the fact that I’ve done it – that I wake up every morning passionate about and proud of what I do – is definitely my greatest achievement to date,” she admits.

Kaitlin, who has had shown her work in Boston, London and on the Riviera, was given the opportunity to exhibit in the IQOS Showroom at the Yacht Club through the Monaco-based consulting agency, Highlights. “I was put in contact with them through a mutual friend, and worked with their team over many months and pandemic-related setbacks to organise this exhibit.”

In normal times, Kaitlin would have held a vernissage but obviously this was not possible under the Covid guidelines. However, she emphasises that everyone is welcome to visit her exhibit this week (up to four people at a time, with a terrace to accommodate those waiting) at IQOS, just steps from the Wine Palace. “There are only four days left so please pop by this week to have a look, up close and in person,” she encourages.

Kaitlin wants to inspire others with her art and her story – to show people that almost anything is possible if you want it badly enough – and “that through chaos, there is beauty.” But finding beauty in the last twelve months of Covid have been incredibly difficult for her.

“I am an eternal optimist, and have tried to keep as busy and productive as possible, but I’ve found it more challenging than ever this past year. My younger sister, whom I was very close with, passed away in a tragic accident in July. I still find it incredibly hard to talk about.

“My family and I have experienced a loss that no family should ever experience, during a time when gathering and consoling one another has been nearly impossible. It has been horrific and heart-breaking, to say the very least.

“I’m still not a point where I can share these emotions in my art but I carry my sister in my head and heart each and every day, now more so than ever, and am trying to live my life stronger and bolder and better, for both of us.”

Visit Kaitlin Kraemer’s “Confessions Intimes” exhibition at the Monaco Yacht Club’s IQOS showroom until February 6, from 10 am to 7 pm.