PinkWave Monaco

PinkWave Monaco sailing team. Photo: Martin Messmer

PinkWave Monaco was founded in March 2019 by what member Femke Doeksen describes as “a bunch of crazy Dutch-speaking women”. As the Monaco resident explains, “Like nowadays, there was hardly any female participation at the annual Primo Cup. Out of fifty or sixty participating teams, only two were female. So, the conclusion was that if their sailing boat could make it from Start to Finish, they would automatically end up on the podium in the Ladies’ ranking.”

Initiated by the energetic Anne Schouten, PinkWave Monaco was born. Today the sailing team consists of 45 women ages 24 to 76 ranging in levels from absolute beginner to high-profile regatta expert. And typical of Monaco, members come from all different backgrounds and nationalities.

British Olympic gold medallist Saskia Clark moved to the Principality last year and has been racing regularly since then. Saskia is supporting the PinkWave idea as an outstanding initiative for Monaco and the efforts to create a solid team to get more women racing regularly. “She is positive that she can guide the decision-making process during the racing and support PinkWave in developing its strong team,” says Anne.

From March 25 to 26, 2023, the Monaco Yacht Club will host their first-ever Ladies Sailing Cup. “PinkWave is not only about being a female sailing team amongst the highly successful predominately male Monaco crews. It’s also a statement we wanted to make, that everything, no matter which age or level, is possible if you keep on pursuing a dream. Needless to say, we are looking tremendously forward to such an event at our club,” Anne enthuses.

PinkWave member Kathrin Hoyos recently bought a pre-owned J/70, to be more independent and to be able to take part in regattas at the team’s discretion. This is the only female-owned J/70 on the YCM. “Hopefully, there are many more to come. The level of sailing on the Monaco Sportsboat Winter series organised by the Monaco Yacht Club is highly competitive and entirely dominated by professional male sailors. Most J/70 sailors of the PinkWave team are between 30 and 60 years, and most of us are, yet, far away from performing on a highly professional level. Our focus is less on the final results at the end of the races but more on the progress of adapting to the conditions and, most importantly, on succeeding as a team. The motto of Pink Wave remains: Progress, Fun, and Freedom.”

PinkWave Monaco competes in a wide range of regattas and various social activities already in the Monaco Yacht Club (YCM). In 2022, PinkWave participated for the first time at the regatta “Dames des Saint Tropez” with the YCM Flagship TUIGA. Much of TUIGA’s crew consists of PinkWave ladies, participating in an entire circuit of Classical Sailing regattas.

At the J/70 World Championships, which took place last October 14-22 at the Yacht Club Monaco, PinkWave Monaco had one boat at the start helmed by Anne Rodelato. “Three years of preparation went into this,” shares Kathrin. “The team ended up ranking first amongst the Ladies’ Teams. One of our PinkWave members, Axelle Foucaud, is on the Monaco team that became Vice-World Champions.”

Additionally, each year several PinkWave members participate in the Monaco Sportboat Winter Series and for two years in a row, PinkWave Monaco has participated in the Helga Cup in Hamburg, the biggest Women’s regatta in the world.

“Worldwide, the number of female sailors and female regattas is increasing rapidly. Only a handful of European countries organised Ladies-only Regattas two years ago. Since then, this number has more than doubled. The world’s biggest annual women-only regatta in Germany hosts over 70 teams – some 300 women. In France, the Ladies’ Sailing Circuit consists of seven races,” Anne says.

She adds, “Although we are quite competitive, our main objective remains to have fun, the love of sailing and after-sailing. We show constant perseverance, believe in ourselves and support amongst each other. Solidarity amongst women overcomes the harshest criticism by men. All in all, we are always considered the underdogs or outsiders, which pushes us to be the best version of ourselves on water and land.”

PinkWave believes supporting women in sport is essential. “We connect and reach out to other female sailors worldwide – so easy via social media – and we actively maintain dialogues with like-minded women worldwide, striving to create a true movement of support and understanding and an environment which feels safe and non-judgmental”

In addition to the 2023 sailing calendar (see “PinkWave 2023” below) an upcoming highlight of the year will be the participation of PinkWave in the “Lady Liberty Regatta” in New York from September 8 to 9 on J/24 class, an 8 m long boat with a crew of five. The race is organised by the Manhattan Yacht Club. “A dream coming true,” reveals Anne. “A Monaco women’s only team with a huge Monaco flag on the spinnaker sailing racing around the Statue of Liberty. We are very excited that we were invited to this extraordinary event and look forward to representing the spirit of the women of the Principality of Monaco with pride.”

Want to support PinkWave? “Spread the word,” says Anne. “We are also open to accepting sponsorships to support us in pursuing our various activities and participation with regattas.

“Sailing is a very cool sport, hugely beneficial physically and mentally, and accessible right here in the Principality. Those interested are invited to contact the Section Sportive of the Yacht Club Monaco or at pinkwave@monaco.mc. We are looking forward to welcoming more female sailors within the Principality!”

PinkWave Calendar 2023

Over the past two years, PinkWave Monaco (PWM) has built strong bonds with female sailors from Germany, Holland, Belgium, the UK, the US, Switzerland, Italy, Ireland, Brazil, Sweden, Denmark, Austria and Dubai. From March 25-26, the YCM will organise its first Ladies’ Sailing Regatta. Several PinkWave Monaco members will take part in 2023 in the Monaco Sportsboat Winter Series, which always ends with the famous Credit Suisse Primo Cup on the first weekend in March.

After the success of 2022, PinkWave Monaco will again participate in May in the Dames de St Tropez regatta, hopefully with two ships and 30 female sailors in total. As in the last three years, PWM will participate in the Helga Cup in Hamburg and possibly at some of the French Female Regattas organized by the Federation Francais de Voile. PinkWave members will again join in the Mediterranean Classical Regatta circuit, such as Les Voiles d’Antibes, Les Voiles de Saint Tropez, and other famous regattas like the Palermo-Monte Carlo, the Rolex Giraglia or the SNIM in Marseille. “The advantage of the diversity and the spread of our team is that in any given race in the Mediterranean, most of the time there is a PinkWave member participating!” says Anne Schouten.

Victoria Morris

Victoria Morris with “the most adorable German Shepherd”, 7-year-old Ziggy. “When I was called in to work with him as a young adolescent dog, he was highly reactive, would have intense reactions to dogs passing by and his general obedience needed much work. There must be participation from both owner and trainer to make a meaningful change and to see how happy, confident and well-adjusted Ziggy is now is just the best!”

Tis the season when parents think about putting a pet under the family Christmas tree.

For animal behaviourist and trainer Victoria Morris: “Often, we can get caught up in the excitement of getting a pet that we sometimes forget to be realistic. A pet is not only for Christmas but is your companion and dear family member for a very long time.”

READ Victoria Morris’ 20 helpful questions to ask before owning a pet.

With over 20 years’ experience, Victoria, who is based just outside Monaco, always knew she wanted to work with animals. “As a child, I was mesmerised when travelling if there were animals there, for example at Dolphin Quest in Honolulu, I stood there for hours just watching and observing the trainers. I would ask them lots of questions and was decided from the age of 12 that my career path would be with animals.”

From that moment on, researched the field of Animal Behaviour, Animal Behaviour Management and Training and worked hard to build her career starting with jobs in zoos and aquaria, working with Humboldt penguins, Harbour seals, snakes, guillemots, Patagonian sea lions, Moluccan cockatoos, pelicans and Bottlenose dolphins. 

She launched her Pet Behaviour and Training Consultancy in 2005 in the UK and has been working closely with vets and other professionals in the field since, including with the Animal Care College in Ascot. She says transferring her business to France was a natural decision. “Having already had experience living a European lifestyle in Spain from an early age, I understood and really came to appreciate all the lovely aspects to everyday life that brings. Also, my parents were living in France.”

She admits, “Working in this part of the world is quite different to that of my consulting in Essex years ago when I had my consultancy there. Many of the pets I work with here have very different lives and routines. Many owners travel with their pets frequently, so I am often helping owners to train and desensitise their pets to travel including air travel, car and boat travel.”

Working with a team within a household who care for her clients’ pets is normal. “As a result, consistency is very important in terms of training and behavioural treatment, so this takes a very specific approach in order to successfully attain. Essentially what I do is very bespoke and requires tailoring my programs to my clients and pets needs according to their individual routines and situations.”

In addition to looking after the mental and physical well-being of the pets in terms of behaviour, Victoria – who has published articles in Dogs Monthly and been on radio – is also involved in making sure all veterinary care for her clients’ pets is provided and up-to-date so both owner and pet are ready to travel.

“There are certain veterinary treatments that are specific to areas my clients travel to and here in France, so I advise on this from my knowledge so far and from the great veterinary professionals I work with. I am also often engaged in travelling with my clients’ pets and bringing them to my clients who may have travelled ahead of time so I can be occupied with their safe travel and look after any behavioural needs.”

Victoria is often involved in helping owners choose the correct pet for them. “I will help them prepare for a pet’s arrival to the home – having the correct beds, bowls and training aids – so we can start in the best possible way, therefore decreasing any potential stress that pet may experience but also getting training routines established early on and making sure the pet concerned adapts well to its new home.”

In some cases, Victoria, who has a Combined Honours Degree in Animal Behaviour from Anglia Ruskin University, can recommend breeders and will also accompany clients to visit their chosen breeders or in some cases rescue homes or people who may be looking for adoptive homes for their pets. “I have a wonderful team of professionals I work with in various different fields from osteopathy, general veterinary care, hydrotherapy, massage etc and work with the best quality groomers, eye specialists and skin specialists and work on referral from these specialists.”

Victoria takes her responsibility as an animal trainer/pet behaviour counsellor seriously and is dedicated to continuing her professional education. She is a member of the International Association of Animal Behaviour Consultants and subscribes to many pet behaviour journals, such as the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour (which she is also a member) and is an accredited member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers in the UK whereby she abides by a strict set code of ethics. “I do not use choke chains, half choke chains, prong collars or any anti bark systems – systems based around aversive stimulus – that are available and employed by other ‘trainers or professionals’ as these are ethically questionable and are ineffective.”

Her clients are offered a high-end service with attention to detail. “I provide one-to-one behavioural consultations at my client’s home, dog training tours/residential training, group classes in obedience, agility, dog dancing, Pet Aid Training – training pets to aid owners with limited mobility, Dog Training Days and Group Dog Training Holidays. 

Working with a wide variety of breeds, she assures, “Yes, all breeds can be trained but the trainer does need to be aware of the breeds genetic predisposition and to be aware of that breeds specific needs, however many people do use this as a limiting factor. What I mean by this is that people have a preconception that certain breeds are a certain way, and it becomes a self for-filling prophecy and no effort is made to shape good behaviour to avoid those unwanted behaviours.”

“Many people come to me with issues with fear-based behaviour, house soiling issues, aggression, separation anxiety, stereotyped behaviour and general handling and obedience issues.” Not all behavioural problems can be completely solved. “You can’t give someone a guarantee. It depends very much on the effort and dedication of an owner to commit to working with a behavioural problem, as well as several other factors including how conditioned and ingrained unwanted behaviour has become, the individual pet itself, its behavioural history, the severity of the behavioural problem and how effectively behaviour can be managed. Having said this, with appropriate training and management huge improvements can be attained with behavioural issues and problems and many of these issues can be solved.”

She has witnessed the many emotions that come up for an owner during the process of behavioural treatment. “It’s not always easy for an owner to work with a behavioural problem that they are experiencing with a pet. There are many family dynamics and couple dynamics involved, as well as the individual psychology of an owner which means as a pet behaviour counsellor you need to have good skills with people, you need to be able to listen and really understand what is going on in a household. 

“It often means people must admit where the management of their pet may be going wrong and how they are contributing to problems, how their responses to certain situations and behaviours are increasing the rate of undesirable behaviour. I have to be there to support my clients and am very dedicated to being there for them and their pets.”

She states the most common mistake clients can make is to anthropomorphise their pet. “They love their pets but sometimes too much, they forget to create boundaries and nurture discipline which pets need to feel psychologically secure. Enrichment and socialisation is also very much underestimated in terms of its positive effect on behaviour management.”

Victoria works on referral from veterinary surgeons and from recommendation treating a wide range of behavioural problems and training issues. “I work with dog aggression, separation anxiety, house soiling issues and much more. I also work with veterinary professionals and groomers when there are issues with handling. I work with both clients and their pets to desensitise their pet to handling/veterinary procedures, therefore decreasing stress for both owner, pet and veterinary professional/groomer etc. This is something that my experience working with marine mammals and exotic animals has well prepared me for and given me great experience in, as this is an extremely important part of animal husbandry.”

“The focus with the kayak is to introduce the dogs to a wide range of experiences and situations. It’s all about socialisation and developing confidence, obedience skills and enabling the dogs to develop into well-adjusted dogs that can handle changing environments and of course have fun socialising and swimming,” says Victoria.

As a trainer, she says you never stop learning and experience provides you with so much. “You have to have a presence with the animal you are working with, you have to understand an animal, its environment, its history, its diet and genetic predispositions but patience and kindness is of paramount importance which is why I abide by a strict code of ethics. 

Many people think that training marine mammals is very different to that of training a dog but the methods of training are the same applied according to that animal’s physical abilities and the modern training approaches employed with companion animals today originated in many cases with marine mammal training and the training of exotic species.”

Beyond dogs, Victoria has worked with Moluccan cockatoos, macaws, bottlenose dolphins, Patagonian sea lions, harbour seals, Burmese pythons, Humboldt penguins, pelicans, dogs, cats, horses, rabbits and goats. “People are now realising they can clicker train their cat, rabbit and horse and the wonderful benefits of doing so.”

Caro Cuinet Wellings

Photo: Garderes & Dohmen

Caro Cuinet Wellings grew up in a small village near Aix-en-Provence but from a young age knew that she would travel, live abroad and speak English. “And that is what I did. During my LLCE degree at the Université de Lettres of Aix en Provence, I came across a poster advertising a Post Graduate Certificate of Education. That led me to St. Martin’s University in Lancaster to be a secondary school teacher, teaching French as a foreign language. I began that career in August 2000 in Kenya.” By 2009, she was teaching at the International School in Dubai, married and welcoming her first daughter.

“Teaching filled my life, it really did,” Caro says, “and I was a good at it. But when the possibility of moving to Malaysia came up, I decided to explore a new path for myself and stepped away from my 12-year career in education. The move to Kuala Lumpur was tough as I embarked on setting up a photography business, with little knowledge of how to run one, barely the skills to take photos and without the support of friends there.”

After the birth of her second daughter in March 2014, Caro suffered post-natal depression. “We spent six years in Kuala Lumpur, it is a place paved by fabulous friendships, fantastic trips, even better food, but also big heartaches, discoveries and great courage.” The family relocated to France in 2018 and Caro describes it as “perhaps the hardest move I have ever had to make. To put it simply, I felt like an expat in my home country.”

She focused on the teaching and coaching side of her photography business. Fast forward four years, she runs two workshops a year on creativity, light and building a visual identity as a photographer. Her online course on the Empara platform has motivated family photographers and somehow the mom of two has found time to develop a one-on-one coaching program. This is all in addition to her group mentoring day, where photographers can experience everything from pre-shoot to photo delivery.

Photo: Caro Cuinet Wellings

“My scope has grown. I shoot families in their homes but have loved taking lifestyle photos of private chefs and maison d’hôtes. I also photograph clothing collections working as part of a team with an agency in Barcelona and work with big education companies for their marketing materials.”

Caro says “our potential for learning is bottomless” and that anyone can develop a photographer’s eye. “I believe in having a vocabulary to help name what we see, so we can understand how elements of a scene work together. No need for a fancy camera to be able to do this, as our eyes are really the key – observing, taking the time to see, to name and to put things together.”

The Biot-based artist knows what she is talking about. Caro’s book Voir la lumière: #100daysoflumière will be available January 5, 2023, but is available pre-sale now on Amazon and Fnac.

“I once said to my now 13-year-old daughter: ‘I have a book in me.’ I didn’t know which book or what it was going to be about.” During lockdown in Eze in April 2020, Caro invited photographers to join her to find light. “Hundreds of photographers followed the project that consisted in taking and publishing one photo a day. The aim was to photograph the confinement but always trying to find the light and improve technique and art. I am so happy and humbled to have been able to gather a supportive and creative community during a time that was really difficult for some of us.”

The challenge led her to revisit the “book in me”. In 2021, she saw the amount of content she had created. “I had sent many newsletters about photography techniques but also about mindsets and how to cope with challenges, where and how to find creativity and inspiration. I had interviews with colleagues recorded on podcasts and countless pages of notes that had piled over the years doing the challenges. And, of course, some 600 photos created for them.”

Photo: Caro Cuinet Wellings

By the end of the year, she said to herself saisi mon courage à deux mains and wrote a pitch to Eyrolles, a publishing house that specialises in editing photography books. “I started writing in February 2022 when I got the go ahead and now it’s going to print nine months later. My third baby!”

She knew she would travel and learn English. She knew she would write a book. What next for Caro? “I always have projects swirling around in my head. I have dreams of exhibitions of the work created for the challenge, setting up a yearly festival with a conference around it and let it be a forum for exciting learning and human experiences. I want to continue to photographing families and women entrepreneurs. I want to continue my work with other photographers in my workshops or via coaching and see them grow and blossom in what they do. I feel a lot of happiness seeing them in their own paths for the success they have designed for themselves.”

All photos courtesy Caro Cuinet Wellings.

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.

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

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.

Beth Curtis

Beth Curtis first started visiting Villefranche as a teenager for an annual holiday and her love for the place just blossomed from there.

“In my late twenties, I had my own graphic design company so it meant I could work remotely and Villefranche was that place,” says Beth, who owns The TapHouse. She split her time between the UK and France working as a graphic designer, creative director, private event chef and music event organiser. “Unfortunately life then threw me a few curveballs, including two awful divorces, where I lost everything, and my extremely poorly 4-year-old nephew was diagnosed with AML leukemia. Thankfully, he has since recovered.”

She was finally able to put down some roots. “A few years later, the bar that was my local was up for sale. I knew people in the area and a few in London that might be interested so I spread the word. One day I received a message from an old friend in Nice who had owned and run very successful bars and we discussed what might be possible. He suggested I take it on and make it a great place for me and my customers. So The TapHouse was born and that is what I set out to do.”

She opened the doors on June 7, 2018, and the inauguration was attended by friends, locals and tourists who came from as far as Dubai to attend. The mayor of Villefranche, Christophe Trojani, also supported the opening by cutting the ribbon.

That first summer gave her time to learn the ropes as she was operating a bar business on her own. “I had many things to learn at once and spent every waking minute working and thinking about the bar. I opened from 2 pm all the way through until 2:30 am every day. When the doors were closed to customers, I was cleaning, cooking, buying food and supplies, organising the endless paperwork that comes with running a business in France and organising and marketing the music events that I’d become known for in the area.”

Beth recalls that every day brought new challenges, some disastrous, some great. “During the crucial and final 15 minutes of the World Cup football we lost the Sky signal. I had a completely full terrace and I was trying my best to restart the connection when the local police arrived and insisted on checking all my documentation. Hence my customers all moved to the next bar to see those last minutes of the match.”

Her greatest memories come from seeing people having fun, mixing together and enjoying the atmosphere and music. “People come for my playlists but for me it is the live music events that make the bar so special. We have had international artists come to perform and because the space is so small, it makes them so intimate and wonderful. The first was in 2018 with Omar MBE, the outstanding British soul singer, songwriter and musician who has duetted with the likes of Stevie Wonder.”

In 2019, she then hosted an event to support her association “Music Therapy” that raises money and awareness for children’s cancer and leukemia charities. Derrick McKenzie, Jamiroquai’s drummer for over 20 years, was the headline act and was supported by a local DJ and vocalist Terrance James “The Voice France 2020”. The 2020 season had another amazing performance from Lifford Shillingford, Britain’s Got Talent golden buzzer winner and supported by Charley B from The Voice UK.

Beth describes The TapHouse clientele as extremely varied. “We have customers ranging in age from 4 to 94, locals originally from Villefranche and the Côte d’Azur, expats living in Villefranche and the surrounding areas, males, females and many dogs have become our extended family.”

She adds she has a huge following from tourists all over the world, due to the Channel 4 UK TV series A New Life in the Sun, which featured her story over two seasons. “They originally found me because of my social media. I was invited to a Skype interview which went well and I was chosen to appear on the show.”

The series first aired in the UK and was then sold to English-speaking countries around the world and to Netflix USA. “Channel 4 told me it was successful and was in the top three prime time terrestrial TV shows in terms of viewers. This meant that I was chosen to appear on the follow up revisited series, which was filmed in 2019 and followed the complete bar renovation and the ups and downs of the season. Channel 4 has recently been in contact to schedule filming the next instalment of the story.”

One couple from Israel visited The TapHouse because they wanted to find Beth after seeing the series. “This happened with many others who have now become regular clients of The TapHouse.”

Business was just starting to gain momentum and then early 2020 Covid happened. “It was absolutely devastating and an extremely stressful time,” Beth shares. “We were closed for four months and it was announced that we were allowed to reopen early June. I was planning the reopening and sent an application for the permission of the late license to be open until 2:30 am, as I had previously been allowed to do. It was refused and I only had permission to open until 00:30, even though other bars were given extended permission. Because of this and the pandemic, my turnover was down 60%. I spent many sleepless nights and became very down because of the situation. I was literally turning away customers and telling them to go to other bars.”

Beth’s problems were about to get worse. “The whole 2020 season was a big fight to keep the business afloat. Bars and restaurants were granted free terraces that normally we pay a yearly rent for. There were regional events organised, like the Fête de terraces, to try to help and I put together events to maintain a steady flow of customers coming to the bar. For these, I sent official requests to have an extension of my terrace, these requests were granted.”

Her events had a great following so not only was she busy but it brought customers to other bars and restaurants in close vicinity. “People would praise me for bringing life into the village. But then, right at the end of the season, I was issued a letter by the police, from the mayor, stating that because I had failed to apply at the beginning of the season I no longer had the right to occupy the terrace space outside. To say I was upset and angry is an understatement. I spoke with many people to seek advice and, with help, I sent a letter to reapply and ask for permission again.”

In January 2021, the response came with a polite refusal although no reason was given. (The bar to the right was also denied but the bar to the left was not).

“It makes absolutely no sense at all,” Beth states. “I had events and group bookings lined up for this season and I have been forced to cancel everything. Including one of the Côte d’Azur business clubs who wanted to hold regular lunch events at the bar.

“I sent another letter of request to the mayor explaining how devastating this is and the impact it is having on me and my business. I’m yet to receive a response.”

The denial of a terrace means that it is impossible for Beth to open. “The reopening costs alone are more than I could make in revenue during the season.” With the current Covid restrictions, she would be allowed to welcome four customers. During the summer season, she would be allowed to open inside but for those who have visited or seen the bar on TV, it means maybe 10 customers. Plus with summer temps and Covid, she is certain people will take their drinks on a terrace somewhere.

In January of this year, Beth realised that the only way to save her mental health was to remove herself from Villefranche. “I have stayed away which means that I haven’t had to witness others opening their establishments, some even with new terraces. It has undoubtedly been the right decision because it would have destroyed my state of mind. Even seeing it happening on social media has been tough.”

Beth is at a loss as to why the municipality would want to revoke her back but reveals “people have speculated that maybe someone wants to buy my business cheaply.” Her silent partner was issued with a police summons and he was later “told to tell me to stop fighting because I can’t win.” She understands that “the mayor has the last word and has decided to make the space a public garden.”

Beth Curtis has stated a petition and is hoping that by making some noise, maybe, just maybe, the mayor will change his mind. “I need at least 1,000 signatures to even begin to be heard. I’m also asking for comments on the petition and for people to share it with as many people as they can.”

Sign Beth’s petition to try and save The TapHouse in Villefranche.

Rachael Dickens

Rachael Dickens understands pain.

The English Osteopath was 28 when she broke her back while playing tennis, an accident that resulted in temporary paralysis in both legs for six months. It was thanks to an osteopath that she began to walk again and found herself on a life-changing road to recovery.

“Lying in bed thinking I’d never walk, work, or love again, I had to make a decision to thrive. I turned off my emotions and got on with it,” Rachael describes.

She quit her job with the Daily Mail Group, where she was the youngest commercial publisher at the time, and spent the next five years training at the British School of Osteopathy.

Speaking French since the age of 7 and having studied at the Institut de Français in Villefranche, Rachael moved to Antibes in 2001 and set up her first English Osteopath clinic at 4 rue Vauban. She has since become the only clinic in Antibes to be approved by the Norwegian Government to issue Seafarer Medical certificates required by all yacht crew.

With a large portion of clients driving from Monaco, the ever-energetic brunette opened a second clinic in 2010 at 11 bis avenue Generale de Gaulle in bordering Beausoleil. She then initiated the Frozen Shoulder and Chronic Fatigue clinics and set up an association for those with limited income to have access to free osteo healthcare for their children and babies (all her osteopaths are trained in paediatric osteopathy).

With a bilingual team of 16 between the two locations, Rachael was heavy-hearted having to shut down the two locations during the first Covid confinement that began in March. “It was tough on my business and tough on the patients having their treatment programmes disrupted. I spent a lot of time on Zoom walking patients through their pain, which worked surprisingly well, and some were even cracking their own backs! Luckily the pharmacists were open and I could arrange with our clinic doctor to get them the right medication.”

In round two of confinement in France, which started October 30, the clinics are allowed to remain open. Thy are busier now than ever and are seeing a type of pain that the therapists describe as a physical manifestation of constant low-grade stress and anxiety, the result of poor at home office work stations or the result of looking at screens more than usual, as all other healthy physical activities have been curtailed.

In Monaco, with people travelling less, patient frequency has increased while in Antibes, where the yachting industry is at a standstill, there has been a slight drop in appointments.

Still, across the board, the intuitive Rachael has noticed a change in recent weeks. “I see a rise in stress. You know, the expat community is already isolated and I think the reality has just sunk in that people can’t go home for Christmas to see their families. Our ability to cope with pain is different when we are sympathetically aroused, like we are now. This means we are gearing up to face an attacker, and Covid is one that we can’t see, so it’s fight-or-flight.”

In Antibes, where cafés and restaurants are closed, Rachael has opened the Waiting Room Café at the clinic. “People need to connect so while a patient is waiting, there’s a Nespresso machine, cookies and even beer, and a table for one – we are hoping for TripAdvisor reviews! – and if someone needs to talk, we’ll sit and have a chat and a coffee.”

In addition to running to the two English Osteopath clinics and doing call outs (even on weekends), Rachael is the lead medic for Supporting Wounded Veterans, a U.K. charity that supports 26 veterans a year through Skiing with Heroes – a “skibilitation” week – and also providing each veteran with a mentor and treatment at the only Wounded Veterans’ Pain Management Programme in Britain. “This program gives veterans confidence and a chance to start new lives,” she says, something she knows first hand.

Over the last five years, she has raised €100,000 for Supporting Wounded Veterans through a 5-day “Mountains to Monaco” bike ride and two quiz nights in Monaco, one held at Stars’n’Bars where Gilly Norton, founder of the founder charity, told me, “Some 87% of those who participate in our Pain Clinic and/or Skiing with Heroes programme return to work or training.”

Rachael says that the charity is currently fundraising “to take part in very exciting research” using psychedelic drugs, such as MDMA, as part of a therapeutic approach to treat PTSD. “If this trial continues to produce results, it will be a game-changing breakthrough in helping those suffering with this terrible mental health condition and who haven’t responded to other Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapies currently available.”

Photos: Nancy Heslin

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

Pink Ribbon Monaco

Leading up to the annual Pink Ribbon Monaco walk on February 12, Natasha Frost-Savio is hosting an extraordinary ‘Dare to Bear’ gala and auction fundraiser with special guest Noah Wyle of TV’s ER fame.

PinkWave Monaco

The Monaco Yacht Club will host their first-ever Ladies Sailing Cup and Pink Wave Monaco, the club’s first all-women team, will proudly be at the Start.

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.