Bertrand Petyt

Bertrand Petyt comes from a long line of scientists. The Monaco resident was expected to follow suit, as well as manage the family business, but after completing a Master of Science in Paris he moved to New York on a whim. “In 1996, I graduated from Long Island University with an MBA in Managerial Finance and that was the beginning of my career in hospitality.”

With persistence, and after a few years of learning the ropes in the American hotel industry (where he found a mentor in his general manager), Bertrand had his first opportunity to pursue his passion in the cruise line industry. “Don’t ask me why, but even as a little boy I can remember looking at cruise ship catalogues and I have collected more than 35,000 cruise brochures from all over the world, from all cruise lines, past and present.”

He says he will always remember joining his first cruise ship, Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ flagship Seven Seas Mariner in Vancouver as a junior officer. “Stepping on the gangway, I cried. The HR manager thought I needed comforting but I told him they were tears of joy as I was living my dream.”

He worked for two cruise lines, Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Silversea Cruises (formerly owned by Monegasque Manfredi Lefebvre d’Ovidio), both at sea and on land, in various positions, including corporate HR manager and hotel director. “Cruising the world was amazing and I believe that travelling is the most precious learning experience. I left the industry in 2014 but I still carry that passion and, who knows, maybe one day the sea will beckon me again.”

Bertrand returned to Monaco and became Chief Executive Officer managing the professional assets of a prominent Chinese family established in the Principality. “The family’s wealth came from real estate development but by then Parkview World had become an operator of luxury sites and assets, including hotels, restaurants, yachts, luxury shopping malls, luxury residences and museums.”

In September 2020, Bertrand transformed his knowledge of the hospitality and luxury sectors into Vitruvius Partners Group, a business he launched with his friend Lilian Bougy, first in Paris and, later this year, in Monaco. This game-changing advisory firm with 12 expert advisors and six Business Ambassadors specialises in an externalised Change Management Office solution.

“In short, we offer small- and medium-companies in corporate hospitality the benefit of change management, leadership development and corporate eco-system redesign services, a business format similar to the one of a family-office or a legal firm providing a specific service at a cost-effective price,” explains Bertrand.

Vitruvius Partners Group advises leading organisations on the four dimensions of business change — people, processes, technology and risk control — identifying problem areas and making organisations more responsive to change in their industries and markets, equipping them to take maximum advantage of emerging opportunities.

“Our business model is highly relevant and also innovative in its approach to change but we are not consultants,” he emphasises. “We are expert advisors that bring a wealth of strategic and operational experience, as opposed to only the ability to audit and sell ‘off-the-shelf’ systems like most consulting companies.”

Although the idea of this venture had been brewing for a while, the first Covid lockdown gave Bertrand that final now-or-never push. He decided to leave his secure CEO position and jump into entrepreneurship with the launch of Vitruvius Partners Group.

In the same year, the academic’s Iconic In The Midst Of Chaos was published. “This book was written as an attempt to provide guidance to those who understand that chaos – like what we are experiencing today – can be an opportunity to become iconic. The approach is a very holistic one, albeit based on proven techniques to install great leadership skills in every manager.”

On a personal level, Bertrand reflects that 2020 was a year of empathy as he witnessed most of his friends in the cruise industry affected on so many levels – losing their jobs, stuck on ships for months, separated from families, and a few suicides as well.

“I felt powerless yet during this crisis, I witnessed such kindness, community cohesion and incredible support from colleagues and friends. It produced my motto, “to enable people to tell their true stories so they may inspire greatness in their lives and for others.”

Bertrand admits that when he left Europe in 1994 for the US he never thought he would return to the continent and relocating to Monaco in 2007 was with reluctance based on his experiences as a teenager. “When I was young, Monaco did not have much to offer except for glamour and tourist-oriented activities and it was difficult for a teenager to grow with a sense of what the world had to offer. I would often spend free days in Nice, where I felt more challenged intellectually. Monaco has evolved in a much more dynamic and open way. It is a place of innovation, creativity and education – the International University of Monaco is, in my opinion, a great success story for the country. Monaco is still a village but a vibrant village,” he comments.

Bertrand, whose surname evolved from its Dutch origins Petïjt, is not a natural networker and in a large group you’ll most likely find him in the corner of the room with the people he knows and trusts. “I network for business, mostly online through LinkedIn as it offers access to a wider array of interesting people.” In Monaco, he’s been involved with various associations like Skal Monaco, the Propeller Club and Global Business Owners.

While Bertrand would chalk 2020 up as a success professionally, over the past two months an autoimmune disease has been causing him debilitating inflammation. “Nothing to worry about long term but I could not even open a laptop let alone have the energy to think. I am an extremely positive person but I can tell you that when faced with such pain, your positivity disappears and you discover a darker side of yourself, one that does not allow you to see the future as bright as you should. For the time being, I have had to slow down all my activities and focus on fully recovering my health and energy. I talk about this in my book, how our abilities rely on four pillars – our health, spirit, mental and emotional state.”

Bertrand Petyt adds, “Sometimes life has a way of reminding us how important it is to take care of our bodies. Health is the cornerstone of everything.”

Anne De Hauw

Anne de Hauw has always loved discovering new places. “To me, travelling is like oxygen – absolutely liberating, inspiring and eye-opening. And aviation is the preeminent enabler for travel, a key driver in economic development and, pre-Covid, generating 13.5 million direct and indirect jobs.”

Born and bred in Belgium, Anne studied fashion marketing in Paris and Florence before moving to the Principality in 2004 to work for Misaki, a Monaco-based pearl jewellery company mainly providing travel retail and duty-free markets.

“After a few years, I was hired by a global airline catering and retail company, where I was in charge of innovation. Even though I became a mom to two boys during this time, I totally enjoyed the travelling this job enabled me to do, meeting new people and discovering new places in all continents across the globe,” says Anne.

And she always loved coming back home to Monaco. “I have been to many places, but none of them is comparable to here, a perfect mix of a cosmopolitan city and a charming village that offers a wealth of opportunities in business, culture and leisure.”

In 2018, Anne decided to quit the corporate world and follow her dream to create her own venture – IN Air Travel Experience, the very first boutique consultancy focusing on customer experience, innovation and sustainability for air travel. (IN stands for Innovation, Inspiration, Influence and In-flight.)

“During my corporate life, I noticed there was a significant shift in the decision-making power within commercial airlines towards customer experience,” Anne explains. “Historically financially and operationally driven, airlines started to increasingly put the passenger in a central position within their strategy. And this is where I saw an opportunity for them to externalise passenger journey analysis and get unbiased strategic advice on how to improve certain touch points.”

With her extensive network and passion for improving passenger experience, combined with an expertise in transformational innovation, in-flight catering and retail, it was an obvious choice for Anne to create a niche consulting agency supporting airlines to ultimately increase passenger satisfaction.

But it is hard to gauge passenger satisfaction on board when there are no flights, as the global pandemic caused unparalleled disruption in many sectors, travel and hospitality being in pole position. “Even if the Covid crisis isn’t over and although the immediate future will continue to be tough, it also presents a unique opportunity to rethink the future travel experience, accelerate business transformation and embed purpose and sustainability into business strategies and day-to-day operations,” Anne explains.

“As airlines recover, restructure and re-evaluate, they must seize this moment to unlearn old habits and embrace new behaviours and new ways of working, rewriting the rules of business that are fit for the future the aviation industry needs. More than ever, it is important for businesses to truly commit to a purpose and ensure they use it to guide their thinking, planning and decision making.”

The travel consultant says that the pandemic has accelerated consumer desire to seek out organisations that aren’t just talking the talk when it comes to supporting social and environmental progress. “People want to engage with companies that are contributing to a positive impact on society and the planet.”

For IN Air Travel Experience, the announcement of lockdown in the spring meant “literally” all of its customer related airline projects came to a halt in just one week. Anne used “the unique opportunity” to accelerate a focus on innovation and sustainability. “To give you an example of one of our ideas, we developed the IN.bowl, a revolutionary in-flight dining concept that positively impacts the passenger experience. Unusual for airline food, this delicious and nutritionally-balanced dish that combats the negative effects of air travel is ultra-efficient in cost, space and handling. It is also environmentally sustainable in material use, weight and waste reduction. A triple win for the people, planet and the airline,” Anne describes.

Anne champions and defends waste reduction for air travel in order to support the industry in achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. IN Air Travel Experience is a founding member of the International Aviation Waste Management Association, a non-profit organisation providing airlines and airports with a base of research and expert knowledge and aiming to advance circular economy knowledge and adoption in global aviation.

“In summary, 2020 was very different than initially expected,” she reflects. On the home front, Anne and her family went into lockdown in Monaco in March. “It was quite a radical change from our usual busy schedules, but I was grateful we were home together, safe, healthy and had food in the fridge.” Over the year, face-to-face business meetings, presentations and industry events have been replaced by endless video calls. “Despite the imposed social distancing and the seemingly people-less world out there, I believe an increased ‘togetherness’ matters more than ever and we stay connected with our customers all over the world through video conferencing.”

She admits that in terms of her bottom line, the year has not been brilliant, but her company is well advanced on purpose-driven projects and continues to build a solid foundation for the future. “As for 2021, I sincerely hope governments will cease to block travel – closing borders, quarantine measures, lockdowns – and people will be confident to fly again.”

Anne de Hauw pauses. “You know, I am still amazed how humans have managed to build a vehicle that can go up in the air and move! And I would love to learn to fly myself, one day, in a post-Covid world.”

According to Business Wire, this year’s passenger numbers are expected to drop to around 2.26 billion (similar to 2006) with passenger revenues tumbling from $612 billion in 2019 to $241 billion in 2020. Additionally, the ResearchAndMarkets.com report released yesterday states that total revenues for the industry look to fall from $830 billion to $418 billion over 2019-2020. “Despite generating around $590 billion in 2021, the industry is forecast to bear a significant loss of $15.8 billion. Restrictions on international travel and lockdowns evaporated passenger demand, with total passenger traffic estimated to decline by 52.7%.”

Brian Frederiksen

Brian Frederiksen. Photos: Nancy Heslin

“I’ve made millions and lost millions, and I’ve been homeless,” says Monaco resident Brian Frederiksen, “but I’ve always found my way back, believing anything was possible.”

Brian, a Fortune 500 executive who is considered one of the world’s leading change agents for AI innovations disrupting healthcare, moved back to Monaco in 2019 after he sold his last startup, a deep tech company founded in academia with sophisticated algorithms.

“I used to live in Monaco about ten years ago. In pursuit of another adventure in life I ended up leaving, however, it was one of those places I wanted to come back to once I had a family.”

When he returned, he volunteered as a mentor at MonacoTech, the government incubator, which is where he met then-director Fabrice Marquet, who had been heading the show since its launch in 2017.

“Eventually Fabrice and I saw an opportunity to create a business accelerator model with a hands-on approach that didn’t exist anywhere else, where we could use our experience to help early- to mid-stage companies become global market leaders.”

In January 2020, the pair cofounded Monaco Foundry. “It has gone better than either of us could have imagined. Most importantly, I have found in Fabrice an incredible business partner. We have had lots of fun so far and already have an incredible portfolio of startups, all with the potential to change the world and improve the lives of others.”

That’s a pretty bold statement considering Brian’s CV includes stints as former chief strategy & operating officer of Merck’s Healthcare Services & Solutions, and senior advisor on AI and innovation to several European governments, including in Finland where he oversaw half a billion dollars worth of startups.

“The one thing I’ve learned is that eventually everything in life, as in business, always comes down to people. My insight and, I suppose, emotional intelligence have allowed me to make new and disruptive deals in AI, for instance, for healthcare because I create strong bonds with people and they instantly understand that I would go to the end of the earth to not let them down.”

As a young boy in his native Copenhagen, Brian longed to see the world. “I visited California when I was 17 and found a kindred spirit that anything was possible. I returned to the US after finishing my engineering degree in Denmark and my MBA in Paris.”

He lived all over the country, from Santa Fe to Santa Barbara and from Miami to NYC. “Juxtaposed to the Denmark I left as a young man, where you’re expected to fit in and where sticking out is not encouraged, I was a born change agent. The US is the perfect playground to create the life you want for yourself.”

It was in 2004, while working for the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Office (he was looking to become a sheriff’s deputy) that Brian began to write. “My first novel, The Blood of the Vikings was published in a few European countries. I continued writing more books for the series, The Valentina Chronicles, and now, more than 16 years later, I’m still working on it.”

But it’s Brian’s most recent book that is garnering attention. Published in November in print and for Kindle, UNIVERSO-i reached No.1 as a New Hot Release International Best Seller on Amazon. “After the birth of my son, I decided to write my life story for him. The goal with the book is to help others overcome the fear and anxiety we all experience – especially in the times of Covid – to live the lives we’ve always dreamed of. Everything we want in life is truly on the other side of fear.”

Brian is donating profits from the book to charitable organizations that he partners with to share the message that the “game of destiny is won by loving and giving.”

He explains, “The crazy thing is that I’ve met people of incredible talent, physical abilities or beauty that believe they are not good enough, smart enough or beautiful enough because someone once told them that in their childhood or in school to lower their self-esteem. The mind is very powerful and can be our greatest friend or our worst enemy.”

Has fear or anxiety ever paralyzed him? “I believe strongly in my intuition so when I feel good about something or someone then I tend to pursue it without worrying too much about if everything has been figured out yet. So far it has been an incredible journey. One moment, an entrepreneur starting a company from scratch with a few people and the next, an advisor to governments, then a Fortune 500 executive and then back to a startup. And, as I said earlier, I have made millions and been homeless.”

For Brian, Covid brings out the best or the worst in people. “It seems like a litmus test for humanity as a whole and for us as individuals.”

He has a unique take on how we have been spending our time during lockdown and the pandemic. “If you haven’t developed or created something new in your life during these times then it is not more time you need but more discipline.”

He adds, “For the disciplined, Covid has been an incredible time to progress innovations in healthcare and otherwise. Some people see it as an opportunity to take advantage and others as an opportunity to give.

“Life always seems to come back to the givers and the takers. I firmly believe that the game of destiny is won by giving and loving, not taking and seeking to be loved,” says Brian Frederiksen.

Vibeke Thomsen

Vibeke Thomsen. Photos: Nancy Heslin.

On Friday, a French court handed down a 25-year jail term to 36 year-old Jonathann Daval, who was found guilty of killing his wife, Alexia, and then burning her body in 2017. The verdict has brought to a close a saga that rocked the country, especially as Jonathann had moved in with the victim’s family after he reported her missing.

The 6-day trials ends just before International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women 2020 on Wednesday, November 25.

This year of Covid has particularly highlighted the issue. During spring confinement, a police headquarters in Paris witnessed a 36% increase in domestic violence reports in just one week. So urgent was the need for intervention that the then French minister of interior, Christophe Castaner, created an alert system that would allow victims to get help by going to a pharmacy and use the code “mask 19.”

According to a 2019 IMSEE report, there were 33 cases of violence against women recorded by the police services, including 31 acts committed in Monaco. 58% of the 33 victims resided in Monaco. (For more Monaco statistics, see Box at end of article.)

Monaco resident Vibeke Thomsen, founder of SheCanHeCan, has been involved with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women since 2013, and helps to make sure the Palace, Tour Odeon and Conseil National are glowing orange is solidarity on the night of the 25th.

In previous years, SheCanHeCan would co-organise events but with the health pandemic, the non-profit association has instead launched an online campaign working jointly with Fight Aids Monaco and the Committee for the Promotion and Protection of Women’s Rights.

“We sent out a call to find 100 men to send us their picture and to choose a message to publicly say NO to violence against women,” explains Vibeke. “We reached 100 in less than two days! It’s been heartwarming to see this silent majority of men – who we seldom hear from but are against violence – stand up and publicly show their face.”

The #violencesfemmesjagis campaign of 100 portraits and messages, including from Princess Stephanie’s son Louis Ducruet, freediver Pierre Frolla and F1’s David Coulthard – ambassadors of SheCanHeCan – has gone live today.

“Next year, we are already planning a larger in-person campaign and we would love to see the community involved, so stay tuned,” Vibeke adds.

Vibeke is a huge supporter of the Monaco community. Born in Copenhagen to Danish parents, the family moved to Geneva when she was a baby. “Surprisingly to the people who meet me today, I was a very reserved and shy child,” she admits. “I was an avid reader and loved to write, too. Somehow I skipped a grade so I was a year younger than my classmates, which contributed to my shyness.”

Her family relocated to Monaco when Vibeke was eight and she attended local schools before heading off to boarding school for a couple of years. “Monaco was different then, less international, less dynamic, less cultural offers and less activities for children. Going to the local school felt very normal. There were no parties on yachts, it’s much more low key than what people expect when they hear I grew up here. I was lucky to find incredible friends, many of who I’m still close to 30 years later,” she shares.

She left Monaco at 16 and for the next 13 years reinvented herself, living in many places around the world. “Travelling definitely helped me come out of my shell as I had to open up and meet new people.”

During her time abroad, she worked in a bank in Frankfurt, with the Danish Delegation to the OSCE in Vienna and spent three years in the US – one in Washington D.C. working for a non-profit to end the death penalty and then two in Ann Arbor, MI, where she picked up a double Master’s degree in Public Policy and Arts in Russia and East European Studies. 

“When I came back, Monaco had completely changed,” she describes. “It became a much more dynamic city with many cultural offerings – you can go out every night, which is surprising for a city this size. There are now more families with young children, more activities, restaurants and bars to enjoy, too. Every week, you can meet new people from every path of life and that’s what I enjoy about living here.”

Vibeke’s favourite haunts were the Bombay Frigo in Emilie Palace on blvd Princesse Grace – “incredible for drinks, dinners and dancing on that bar, it’s a shame it closed.” – and the Sea Lounge at the beach club: “It was a fun place for parties, especially the White Night party in August.”

Vibeke created her non-profit association GenderHopes in 2012, which in 2017 became SheCanHeCan, a name change “to better reflect our work locally and with the community, which is our main focus.” She has a team of three volunteers and five ambassadors.

“I had a 3-year experience in Brussels working in security, including for women in post-conflict countries and reconstruction. That’s when I got bitten by the bug and when I moved back to Monaco in 2011, I tried to find ways to continue in the same field.”

Pre-Covid, SheCanHeCan did various events, including movie screenings, fundraisers, the “A Confident Girl” exhibit at the Columbus Hotel featuring over 20 artists, and the launch of the Equality Pledge in 2019.

Every International Day of the Girl on October 11, SheCanHeCan invites students to the Conseil National to meet with the president and the (mainly) female MPs, to better understand the role and importance of women in politics.

Last year, the association launched the Red Box Project Monaco to address period inequality by bringing period products to local schools, raising awareness about organic menstrual products and breaking the taboo when speaking about periods in schools and in the workplace. The International School of Monaco was the first school to adopt the Red Box and provide free period products to its students in middle and high school.

In terms of companies and/or institutions providing free organic period products, it has been a learning process. “Most of us have learned that periods are private, almost secret and shameful and something not to be discussed in public spaces or at your workplace. It has been a fascinating experience to see how quickly the mindset and approach can change once we become aware of period inequality,” Vebeke relates.

“The environmental impact of period products is also important and often overlooked so, along with our partners Freda and FabLittleBag, this is something we work to address and raise awareness about. Overall, I would say the welcome has been positive but it’s been slow and that’s partly due to Covid.”

And for the past three years, SheCanHeCan has hosted a parent child Book Club in which we read inclusive stories,” relates the mom of three whose children go to local schools.

“I think life with kids is relatively easy in Monaco. There are many moms with young children and a wonderful informal support networks and supportive mums. There is a great play group, twice a week, at the St Paul’s church on avenue de Grande Bretagne, and the Princess Grace hospital provides some support in terms of breastfeeding.”

Vibeke, who speaks Danish, English, French and German, considers herself fortunate. “In confinement, I was able to spend time with my three children in a way we might never experience again, outside of daily stress and routine and with more time to listen and focus on each other. Despite homeschooling and work, we found time to just be together, go for long walks, talk, play, do activities. I’ll cherish this time, also because I know confinement has been a difficult experience for many.”

Vibeke Thomsen pauses for a moment. “In terms of what’s come out of it, I’ve realised the importance of focusing on the people who really matter in your life.”

Need help?

0800 91 90 10
Free hotline in Monaco for victims of all violence (rape and sexual violence, violence perpetrated within the family, sexual harassment …) and on their rights available to them.

WHO reports that 1 in 3 (35%) of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime. For more information about getting help during Covid, click here.

Monaco in numbers

According to an IMSEE report, there were 33 cases of violence against women recorded by the police services in 2019, including 31 acts committed in Monaco. 58% of the 33 victims resided in Monaco.

The average age of the women aggressed was 37; for the perpetrator, he was around 42. One in two cases were committed at the victim’s or perpetrator’s home, with 58% committed by the spouse or ex-spouse of the victim.

Nearly 60% of cases concerned physical violence while 25% were sexual violence.

113 women were admitted to hospital, including 83% suffering from physical violence and while these cases was recorded at CHPG, not all these acts of violence took place in Monaco.

In 2019, 74% of cases of violence committed in Monaco in 2019 resulted in a complaint being lodged and 33 proceedings were opened.

At the time of IMSEE’s publication, 15 cases were subject to legal proceedings, or under investigation. Of these cases, perpetrators were on average 39 while the victim was 35. There were 4 convictions and 2 protection orders for acts committed in 2019, all against men. There were no condemnations for rape in 2019 in Monaco.

Nazanine Matin

Nazanine Matin. Photos: Nancy Heslin

In the summer of 1978, Nazanine Matin visited Monaco for the first time. At only 18 months old, it would be the beginning of a long relationship with a country she would eventually call home in 2014. “My uncle had moved to Monaco and we spent a lot of time here and with him over the years,” says the founder of TEDxMonteCarlo.

Nazanine has a soft spot for the Monaco of yesteryear, with tales of the Beach Club or early days of Sea Lounge, but not all of these are for print! “I remember one evening after the Red Cross Gala, we went to Jimmy’z and in one corner you had now President Trump and Melania and in the other, Ivana and her then Italian boyfriend. Meanwhile Jean-Claude Van Damme was in a white suit doing splits on the dance floor! It was quite a scene and memories I’ll never forget, especially as I was a huge Jean-Claude Van Damme fan and had seen every one of his movies!”

Born in Tehran, Nazanine moved to the South of France due to the Iranian Revolution and she attended boarding school in Switzerland from the age of five. “I enjoy connecting people, connecting passions and maybe this comes from me going to boarding school, where we were always with other children and we had to give back and help.”

In 1989, her family moved to Toronto, where the 13-year-old went into a French Immersion program. “On my first day of school, we walked into my homeroom – I didn’t know that concept as we didn’t have homerooms in the French system – and the teacher was talking. I turned to my dad and asked him what language she was speaking. I didn’t understand her French Canadian and the students made fun of my accent, too. It was quite interesting,” recalls Nazanine, who describes herself as a “troublemaker” growing up.

Although she is a trained Mechanical Engineer from U.C. Berkeley and worked in Bioengineering, Information Technology, Logistics, and Finance, most people know Nazanine as the inspired woman who brought TEDx, the independently planned and non-profit TED-like talks to Monaco in 2014.

This was no easy feat, amongst a long To-Do List, she had to get licensed by TED to host more than 100 people, find speakers, build a team of volunteers and find a venue, which is not cheap in Monaco. Finding sponsors was also a huge hurdle as the TEDxMonteCarlo budget was “ten times more than my friend’s budget in London for the same number of speakers and attendees.”

A determined and resourceful Nazanine pulled it off. In 2014, she put on TEDxIUM (she obtained an MBA in Luxury Management at the International University of Monaco). She then held TEDxMonteCarlo events at the Grimaldi Forum in 2016 and 2017, with five smaller session Salons the following year.

“After that, I was exhausted,” Nazanine confesses, “mainly from fundraising. As a team, we thought that every two years would be better for the big flagship event. In 2019, we didn’t raise enough funds so we had to postpone to 2020. Then lockdown happened.”

To keep the community engaged and connected during confinement Nazanine and her team organized fiver free TEDxMonteCarlo vitural Salons, with up to 100 attendees. And this coming Saturday is the team’s first Women flagship event, TEDxMonteCarloWomen to showcase the TEDWomen 2020 Fearless pre-recorded TED talks and drive discussions. The event will be virtual and will address global and local topics.

“TEDxMonteCarloWomen will be different as there will be a lot of time for interaction between the attendees and with our local experts on the topics we’ve selected,” she explains, adding there will be breakout sessions running in parallel with smaller groups to discuss the topics at hand and then lots of time for Q&A.

“We really want the audience to share their ideas, speak up and be fearless. Also, even though it’s labeled with “Women”, we encourage everyone and all genders to join in the conversation. All genders need to help with the change that’s required,” Nazanine encourages.

She admits that she would love to host a live event again. “The biggest challenge is raising money and balancing my full-time job with the requirements to put these events together. A one-hour virtual event takes almost 40 hours of prep work from me and the team.”

Reflecting on Covid-19, the Monaco resident says she is “very lucky” with her situation and although it has meant less business travel, she has enjoyed “great home made food and lots of time with the friends I cherish.”

“I know that there are many less fortunate than me, and I try to give back in any way I can to make it easier for them,” says Nazanine Matin. “I leave much bigger tips at restaurants, and each time I get a GoFundMe campaign or a local funding campaign for a business that might go under, I try to contribute.”

Support Nazanine and her team by signing up for the TEDxMonteCarloWomen virtual event themed Fearless on Saturday, November 28. It costs only €5 for a full day pass and you can sign in and out as you wish. This TEDx event begins with yoga or meditation and rounds off with a virtual aperitif and networking with a DJ .

Andrée and Michelle

Monegasques Andrée and Michelle outside the palace in Monaco Ville. Photos: Nancy Heslin

To celebrate National Day on November 19, Andrée and Michelle – the “Mamies of Monaco Ville” – share their stories about growing up on the Rock and how Covid has impacted the community.

Andrée and Michelle are sitting on a bench outside the palace, nearby the marble statue of tribute from foreign colonies presented to Prince Albert I on the occasion of his 25 years of reign in 1914.

“When I was a child, I used to climb that statue,” Andrée points. “Everything has changed. This used to really be a square.”

“Well, it was different,” says Michelle. “When I was younger, we would bike and roller-skate in the square. You know, the other morning, there was no one here except for a few kids from the painting school (Pavillon Bosio Visual Arts School) who were sitting in front of the palace on the sidewalk with their papers and pens, and the teacher was there. I saw a Carabinier approach and tell them they had to leave. The gentleman said he was a teacher here in Monaco-Ville and the students wanted to draw the palace a little. The Carabinier replied, ‘No, it’s out of the question.’ I found this completely absurd.”

“When I was young and in the month of Mary (May), we would all go to the Cathedral. There are arches at the top of the church tower and you can see there is a floor. There was a door and so we would go up and look at the choir sing. Now, you have to show your credentials everywhere. It’s not like before.”

These days, Covid also makes life different for the two women. Before the health pandemic, Andrée and Michelle would usually meet with friends every day for coffee. “We would meet up every morning at 9 at the San Remo bar,” says Michelle. “Before Covid, Monaco was far more lively. I think that with lockdown, we realise that apart from tourism, there’s not much on the Rock. Even people from Monaco, they are not going to come here to buy souvenirs. Although, some have come in a stand of solidarity.”

“In our day, it wasn’t like that,” shares Andrée. “There were grocery stores, a stationery shop, florists, a cobbler … we had everything. Souvenir shops practically did not exist. But it changed in the Sixties, they took away all the stores.”

Michelle agrees. “Monaco-Ville used to be a village but it gradually changed and is now essentially touristic. I’m going to tell you the honest truth. At the time, we were a bit fed up, because you couldn’t walk in the street in the summer, in the middle of August. Between the restaurant’s terraces and the groups, going out was really annoying. Frankly, we were bothered by this but when you look around now, it’s obvious that it is dying with sadness.”

Andrée adds, “I think, there is going to be a reversal. It’s necessary for the souvenir shops to do something else.”

“But some can’t close because they have big management,” Michelle remarks.

Village Life

“Before, all the families used to all know each other in Monaco-Ville. Now we no longer do,” says Andrée. There are many foreigners who have bought as secondary residences.

“The old grannies would take their chairs,” Michelle describes, “and bring them in the street and they would be in front of their doors, chatting. I remember that.”

“I can see them now,” recalls Andrée, “with their aprons, and they would shell peas or beans…”

Michelle remembers how the women would wash laundry. “You’ve seen the Parking des Pêcheurs? There was a lavoir there. I saw women who would leave their house with the thing on their heads and they went to wash their linen there.”

“Not my grandmother,” says Andrée, “because we had the bassine on the terrace.”

“Well, Claudie, with her sister, who are roughly my age, they would go there,” Michelle responds.

Andrée adds, “Not so long ago, some people still didn’t have toilets at home, they would still go wash to the washhouse. And there was a lavoir at Sainte Devote church, you know where the stairs go up behind, there were toilets there. They removed them, and there was a washhouse.”

Michelle says she sold her 3-bedroom apartment on Boulevard des Moulins to buy another apartment on the Rock for her son “because I couldn’t see myself living at Palais Miramar. For me, my stronghold is here.”

“My neighbour can see me in my bed,” Andrée, who has one daughter, laughs. “It doesn’t bother me, it’s been like this since I was born. Where I lived before, my neighbour was Madame Augusta,  and when I opened my windows, there she was. ‘Hello Madame Augusta,’ I would say … My grandfather bought the place I now live in 1921, I have the deed. I wanted to leave because I had back pain and I have four floors. But at my age, I couldn’t picture myself moving.”

“I don’t have neighbours opposite,” says Michelle, who has a son and daughter. “I have a view of the mairie. It’s my grandmother’s house and I was raised there, so were my children, and even my grandson. My grandparents used to live near Sainte Devote, at villa Lilly Lou, I think it’s still there. And they sold it to buy here on the Rock, a house with two floors. They bought the second floor first, because the first floor was rented. And I remember that later when they bought the first floor, there were always two apartments. I was raised in one of the apartments with my grandparents.”

Andrée, with Michelle, in front of the Palace statue she used to climb as a child.

Living With Lockdown

During the first lockdown, the women say they only did what was authorized, like went out to do shopping or a morning walk in front of the Carabiniers or around the garden and then home.

Andrée admits, “Confinement didn’t bother me the first time.”

“I have a terrace with the sun, I have a view on the mountain … there is worse,” Michelle says. “We are very privileged in Monaco. Even if things have changed, we are privileged, really.”

“You know,” says Andrée, “you have to be born in Monaco-Ville, because there are a lot of people from Monaco who tell you they would never live here. I can’t leave.”

“Things never change here, and never will,” says Michelle. “Except that they repaired houses but otherwise, you can’t touch Monaco-Ville. When we look at the old photos, it was a bit old-fashioned. Now, when you look, it’s all perfect. It’s all redone.”

Michelle adds, “Everybody dreams about coming to Monaco. It’s the only place where you can go out with your jewellery and not worry about your purse. Let me tell you something. We are all happy, even those who complain, in Monaco, everyone is happy. And everyone would like to live there. Aren’t I right?”

Andrée nods in complete agreement. “If you only knew how I hear from friends because we are less locked-down than in France.I don’t know, it seems that people are jealous,” says Andrée. “There is good and there is bad, it’s a bit like life.”

“I can’t stand when people criticise Monaco. I can’t stand it,” admits Michelle.

National Day

“The fête nationale in Monaco is something close to our heart,” says Andrée. “Every time we come to the square, there is a party. I was born on the Rock, really, and I’ve never seen this before.”

Michelle agrees. “We come to the square with a flag, we wait until the Princely couple stands at the window. This year it’s sad because it won’t happen. There will be a speech on television. They are doing the Te Deum but with distancing and that’s all. For the Prince’s Day, everything has been cancelled.”

Typically, in the days leading up to the National Day in Monaco, which has been on November 19 since 1952, there are rehearsals for the parade in the Place du Palais and the ambience is festive. As we sit near the Place du Palais two days before the big event, there is little activity. This year, there will be no military parade or symbolic wave from the window by the prince and his family. Mass at the Cathedral and the ceremony in the Cour d’Honneur will be broadcast live on Monaco Info.

“Every year, the Princely couple would stand at the window, sometime’s the whole family even,” Michelle points out.

“It was a family holiday,” says Andrée. There were two different days, on Wednesday and Thursday.”

“Back in our children’s time, they would have all the games at Place du Palais. There were things for children all day long.” Michelle says warmly.

I ask the ladies if they saw Prince Albert as a child at the window, and they admit seeing all three young siblings – Caroline, Albert and Stephanie.

Michelle recalls the birth of Princess Caroline. “I was at school and I must have been in 6th grade. I remember, with the teacher, there were cannons fired.”

“… to know if it was a boy or a girl,” Andrée chimes in.

“And then, after the cannon shots,” Michelle relives, “we all left school and came here to the square with flags, shouting. It really came from our hearts. We were kids.”

Andrée and Michelle say that before Princess Grace, “Monaco was not much.” For Michelle, “Grace is the one who brought about the renewal of Monaco that led to making Monaco known all around the world. The whole world was invited to Monaco. There were parties, there were galas, and it was sumptuous. Sumptuous. Even now, it’s not the same anymore. It’s not the same thing, it was a different era.”

Andrée adds, “At the time there was Le Bal de la Rose at the palace or on the square … we would see all the artists pass by, I saw Charles Aznavour.”

“In the morning, we would always see Princess Grace bring her children to school,” Michelle reveals. “We would meet them in the streets. One day, I was walking down the ramp and there came the Princess, such simplicity. She had a small scarf, flat shoes. You remember Andrée?”

“Yes,” Andrée replies. “We would often see them. I also remember her with Stephanie, and their dog, the little poodle.”

“We had the most glamorous period of Monaco,” Michelle says. “We were very lucky because we had a time, I think, no one will have again. It was the time of Prince Rainier and Princess Grace. It was magic.”

Words cannot express my gratitude to Andrée and Michelle, two characterful ladies who provided a rare glimpse into a very private world in honour of National Day. They only removed their masks for photos.

I wish I could organise a Rediscover Monaco-Ville day to encourage Monaco residents to explore and support the old town, to eat at the restaurants and buy some gifts and souvenirs for a Very Monaco Christmas. But alas, I cannot. So I will continue to share stories of real people and maybe, just maybe, we can make a difference together.

Francis Wright

Francis Wright at Remembrance Day spot on Avenue Grande Bretagne with bust of Sir Winston Churchill behind.
Photo: Ed Wright Images.

As a Remembrance Day tribute, Francis Wright shares his story about growing up in Monaco in the 1930s and when Italy declared war on France.

Born in Monaco in 1927 on what is today known as National Day (see “It’s A Date!” text below), Francis Wright’s childhood consisted of walking from his home at Rue de la Source to Lycée Albert 1er up on the Rock, every morning, lunch and evening.

“We had homework to do over lunch which he had to recite at 2 p.m. Punishment was having to go back to school on a Wednesday, our day off, for one to three hours. I was punished once and had to write what the teachers told me,” says 93-year-old Francis.

When the weather was warm, Francis and his older brother, Peter, would swim early in the morning in the Condamine harbour, where Ubaldi is now, and then walk up to the Rock for classes. “That was our joy. Before the war, there were no parks or reserved places for children to play in Monaco. We weren’t even allowed to walk around the Casino in shorts, you had to wear a tie and proper clothes,” he reminisces.

In those days, men went to work, women looked after the house and the children, who were left to their own devices to entertainment themselves, like playing football or marbles in the street. Shopping was a daily occurrence. “There were at least four épiceries along rue des Roses. There were no Frigidaires at the time, so butter would melt at times. I don’t remember milk.”

His father came to Monte Carlo in 1924 to set up a garage to service the cars of tourists who drove cars from England and through France to Monte Carlo on gravel roads. In the lead up to the war, his father’s garage, British Motors at 5 Rue de la Source, had fewer and fewer customers as there were no cars from either Great Britain or tourists and his business collapsed in the Thirties. “He took on a job as driver for Madame Westmacott, which took him all over France and other places. Mother looked after us alone, and that was hard.”

Francis says he will never forget June 10, 1940, the day Italy declared war on France and Great Britain. “My two brothers and I had already been badly treated by the Italian scholars because we were British, but the mood worsened, especially after Mussolini’s shouting speeches on the radio, and we weren’t welcome. The school closed that day and it was a frightening scene as the Monaco police – there was no military – rounded up all the fascists, including the baker, who were all taken to Fort Carré in Antibes.”

Francis describes, “It was the first day we had air raids. Sirens went off as a warning as Italian warplanes passed over Monaco flying to Cannes and elsewhere to do some bombing, I suppose. We would hide in the garage, others hid in their caves.”

Then came the phone call.

Fleeing France: 1 ship, 900 people, 2 toilets

On June 16, which happened to be Peter’s birthday, Francis’ father received a phone call from the British consulate advising the family leave the country as the Nazis had entered Paris. He explained that there were two ships leaving Cannes for England at 8 a.m. the following morning. “They had to make the decision then and there,” says Francis. “I remember mother and father sitting around the table and it must have been a hard decision for my father to make, to leave the garage, leave the home … we had to give away our Siamese cat.”

They were allowed one case each (the boys packed a few toys for the long journey)  and the only clothes they took were the ones they wore. And so, the next morning, 12-year old Francis, Peter, 15, and their parents fled Monaco being driven by their neighbour in their old Citroën. (Francis’ oldest brother Alan had joined the Royal Air Force in 1938 and in 1940 escaped France via Cherbourg during the Dunkirk operation.)

“It was hot and we had a trunk full of sardines,” recollects Francis about the drive to Cannes that morning. “My father had thought of escaping the Italian invasion by driving into the middle of France somewhere and mother had said the best food to take would be cans of sardines, which were in the back of the car. And so we took with them on the ship, which was a good thing. The only rations on the ship were a couple of slices of corned beef, slices of bread, and biscuits.

Picture of the ship Francis Wright, along with his brother Peter and his mother and father, embarked on from Cannes to Liverpool as the Nazis invaded Paris.

On the ship Salterscate, there were only two toilets for 900 Brits and no washing facilities. “We didn’t wash until we got to Gibraltar. We were going to disembark at Oran, but the captain said we could not land there because ‘France had capitulated and we are now in French Algerian waters, enemy waters.’ Francis in fact saw the British fleet leave Gibraltar and later discovered they were, in fact, part of Operation Catapult, which helped defeat the French fleet in Oran so they ships would not fall into the hands of the Germans.

Historian Maureen Emerson comments: “Francis’ memories of the journey to freedom echo those of Somerset Maugham, who took the same journey on the same ship.”

In Gibraltar, they were able “to freshen up” the hospital served as accommodation and the passengers were served a meal of bacon and eggs. “It was the best meal I’ve ever had, I’ll always remember that. My father fell ill with the dysentery and we thought we’d have to leave him in Gibraltar. But he recovered and on the City of Cairo ship, we had a cabin for the four of us. We left the cabin to mom and father and Peter and I slept on the deck. We landed in Liverpool on July 14 or 15.”

“When we left Cannes, my mother had a lovely full head of brown hair. When we arrived in England three weeks later it was white.”

The family stayed briefly Liverpool, and then headed to Pinner in Middlesex outside of London where an aunt lived. “My mother took me to Lewis, the men’s shop for trousers, and it was the first pair I’d ever owned. I still remember that because I had always worn shorts in Monaco.”

Francis’ father found a job in Warrington, as a transport manager to an air drone base, which would become one of America’s biggest bases in England. “The airplanes would arrive in crates from the U.S. to be assembled at the Burtonwood air depot, like toys being put together.”

Peter went to night school and eventually joined the RAF and Francis attended grammar school in Farnworth. “I didn’t like it at all. I was nicknamed ‘Froggy’ because of my name. It was big change and I stayed until age 16.” He spent a month in hospital having contacted pneumonia and pleurisy, and at one point he was placed on the dangerously ill list for a week. “I remember my father came to see me every night and I appreciated that very much.”

Once he “got over that,” he began to work at an aviation company, working on Barracudas, where he gained great insight of airplanes and the air force.

Meanwhile Warrington was having air raids every night. “It was worse when the full moon lit up the Manchester ship canal which if German Luftwaffe followed would guide them to the Burtonwood air depot. Liverpool got a packet during the war.”

There were no restrictions on movement or curfew and “the rationing was just about adequate, we didn’t starve. But the worst thing was the blackouts in the winter, you couldn’t see anything, not even cars and buses. I remember a blackout so intense once that biking home from work after work, Peter ended up on the main railway station platform in Warrington.”

The return home, or what was left of in, in Monaco

Post-war, Francis moved back “home” early 1949. “There was nothing left of the apartment in Monaco, it was an absolute disaster.”

His dad had returned in 1947, alone, travelling by train all the way back to Monaco and found his garage business empty, the cars stolen by the Germans, who apparently “left a note saying something like ‘when the hostilities were finished we’ll hand them back to you.’” (Francis still has the note).

“There was nothing left in the apartment, the cupboard with my toys had been emptied. We had to sleep on mattresses on the floors. And we stared work on the garage.”

Francis has lived through three reigning Prince’s in Monaco. “I was too young to remember Louis II but Rainier had a pretty good relationship with the people, and decided that buildings built during his reign were not to be more than 13 floors high, except the Millefiori.”

As Rainier had a Rolls Royce, Francis met him through the garage. He and Peter (who returned in 1948 after leaving the air force) were also the ones who collected Princess Grace’s Rover from Paris to Monte Carlo to check for any faults to sort out before Monte Carlo.”

“Princess Grace brought the Americans here and Monte Carlo changed completely, she put Monte Carlo on the map because the Americans loved her marrying a Prince. Americans wanted to come and see where was this place Monte Carlo.”

One of the first things Grace did was to stop the live pigeon shooting, which took place at a range above the train station, where the Fairmont is now. They substituted real pigeons for clay but ended up packing the whole thing in. “They turned the shooting range into an open-air cinema, but if two people in the film were talking quietly and a train went past, you couldn’t hear.”

Monaco then and now

For Francis, Monaco is just “a town like every other town” with commerce and workers commuting in. “It is the press, not the people, that created the image that Monaco s full of glamour, cocktail parties every night, champagne everywhere, and full of rich people. Monaco is a working town, there are lots of people that are poor, lots of people better off, and some are struggling more than others.”

Looking back on 93 years, Francis feels fortunate but admits that living in Monaco was a career choice, coming back after the war to work with his dad at the garage. Their customers were ordinary people (although Sean Connery did bring his Rolls Royce in for service. “It was successful but we made it successful because we worked damn hard. Peter and I would do all the paperwork on the weekends.”

General Motors was big seller in the 1950s and the American car company set up in Monaco, across from where the Marché U is now, on Boulevard Princesse Charlotte “Peter saw their showroom window and said that would be a dream to have. Then business slowed down because of space in Monte Carlo and GM went caput.”

For Francis, there are too many buildings in Monaco and not enough green spaces. “Everything is concrete now, which gives it too much heat in the summer. The Hotel de Paris had the Camembert garden/roundabout, then they got rid of it and it is just concrete. Why not have a little green space instead of a building?

The other standout memory for Francis is when the relationship soured between Prince Rainier and Charles de Gaulle (France celebrated the 50th anniversary of his death on November 9) because of French companies evading taxes by having offices in Monaco. “There were plaques of French businesses on buildings, like the Victoria, and they didn’t pay any income tax. De Gaulle came down and sorted it out with Rainier. Suddenly Monaco had frontiers. Margare, my sister-in-law, would look out the window and see the old women carrying their baskets up the public steps leading up from rue de la Source, where French gendarmes were checking to see if they had anything to declare.”

Remembering and Remembrance

For Remembrance Day commemorations, Francis and two brothers often laid wreaths on avenue Grande Bretagne or were flag bearers at the war memorial in the cemetery in Menton.

“For me, Remembrance Day is about the pilots during the Battle of Britain. If we had lost, that would have been the end of it all. The Germans would be in England, the Americans could never have come over to create a base in England and it would have changed the direction of the war in the German’s favour. There would never have been a D-Day.”

He always thinks back to getting on that ship in Cannes in 1940. “It was the biggest event in my life getting on that ship, crossing the Atlantic as a convoy, all night the horns would blow, which meant changing course in a zigzag formation to confuse any U boats.”

Francis says it’s “not really fair to compare” Covid to a war. “Covid is an illness that I don’t think will ever go away properly and it is unfortunate you can’t go home, or go to France, but you just have to accept it and live through it.

“It’s like during the war. We didn’t like it but we had to live through whatever they threw at us.”

A heartfelt thanks to Ed Wright for assisting in the interview of Francis Wright, which I couldn’t do in person due to Covid restrictions.

It’s A Date! Monaco National Day

Photo: Nancy Heslin

Since 1857, Sovereign Day in Monaco typically coincided with the day of the ruling Prince’s Patron Saint. Prince Louis II broke this tradition when he ascended, however, as Saint-Louis day was on August 25, during summer holidays.
He instead chose January 17, the day of Saint Anthony the Abbot, the Patronal Feast of his granddaughter, Princess Antoinette.

When Rainier took over, the feast day of Patron Saint Rainier d’Arezzo fell on November 19, and so this date was consecrated National Day in 1952. Prince Albert decided to keep the same date as it also marked the second part of his investiture in 2005 when he was enthroned at Saint Nicholas Cathedral.

Philippe Verdier

NFL’s Philippe Verdier. Photo: Nancy Heslin

Geologist Philippe Verdier first came to Monaco in July 1995 to develop Gramaglia Assurances, which specialises in corporate risk.

Over the past 25 years, Philippe has become a widely admired personality in Monaco for creating the popular fundraising event, No Finish Line. For each kilometre a participant runs or walks over the 8-day event, his non-profit association Children and Future donates one euro to support disadvantaged and sick children through various projects.

For 58-year-old Philippe (who shares his birthday on Halloween with his twin sister), benevolence has played a part of his life since junior high when for seven years he was a Sea Scout in Rouen. “Being a scout taught me to show solidarity and how to set up projects for groups of five or six friends.”

And although his family wasn’t particularly sporty, in school he did everything from ping-pong and handball to windsurfing and sailing, becoming an instructor in the latter in St Vaast la Hougue (Normandy). In fact, growing up Philippe dreamt of sailing and being a skipper of a boat from his hometown of Rouen in the Tour de France.

At the age of 30, he did his first marathon and finished with a time of 2:49. This would launch his passion for mythical ultras – UTMB (6th,), Marathon des Sables (15th), Badwater USA (4th), 100km Ventoux (1st) – completing around 60 with 80% podium finishes by scratch or category.

Combining the two elements of sport and solidarity, Philippe put on the first No Finish Line (NFL) in Monaco in 1999. His original idea was to have one person at all times on the 1-kilometre circuit over eight days. But in 2002, a bank sponsored the event for €20,000 and 18,000 km were completed, which lead to the concept of a sponsor donating one euro for every kilometre. This has been the formula since NFL 2004.

“The NFL concept is simple and can bring together all types of personalities – runners, walkers, athletes or not, children, elderly, pets – all for the soul purpose of helping sick or disadvantaged kids. Even those who are not athletic walk 400 km, with some taking a week off work or others hitting the circuit every night.”

Philippe says he is most pleased when he sees groups of friends or business associates coming together every day on the course, chatting while walking or running, while they help to change the world.

In the year of Covid, it would be impossible to maintain social distancing for the hundreds of participants on the 1.3-km circuit in Fontvieille. So the 21st edition from November 14 to 22 will be virtual. “The show must go on! For this first connected NFL Monaco, I would be happy with 4,000 registrants and 200,000 km. In post-containment Paris in June, we had 3,000 registrants who completed 123,000 km.”

It’s only €12 to participate and individuals can register online until noon on November 22 but teams need to do so before November 11. You’ll need to then download the ZAPSPORTS app and register for “No Finish Line Virtuelle” and start the stopwatch. All the kilometres you run or walk 24/7 from November 14 at 3 pm to November 22 at 3 pm will be automatically saved.

Super important to note also is the NFL Toy Drive at Fontvieille Big Top from Saturday, November 14, to Saturday, November 21. This is to collect as-new condition toys for the kids affected by Storm Alex (some of the NFL proceeds will also support this cause.)

Since 1999, NFL Monaco participants have covered a total distance of nearly four million kilometres (3,799,042) to raise more than four million euro (€4,018,092) for various charities, including the Cardio-Thoracic Centre Monaco, Aviation sans frontiers/African Rencontres, the Chaîne de l’espoir, Maison de vie Carpentras, and the Monaco Red Cross.

From the get go, Philippe has said he would love to see one NFL event for every week of the year. “I know 52 NFLs is hard to imagine but it’s what gets me out of bed every morning.”

In addition to Monaco, there are five 5-day NFL fundraisers in Europe –Paris (2015), Oslo (2016), Athens (2017), Nice (2018) and Bratislava (2019, where a connected edition takes place this week with at least €30,000 donated) – which have raised a combined total of €874,259. Philippe hopes that 2021 will see new NFLs outside of Europe.

Children & Future was founded by Philippe in 2001 to promote the protection of children’s rights around the world, and to finance projects that improve their condition, education, health and lifestyle. In addition to NFL, “NFL Danse,” a friendly dance competition in Monaco, was launched to also support the cause.

For Philippe Verdier, the dedication of his association and all the volunteers who all give so much during the week of No Finish Line is well rewarded. “One year, a child who was operated on and recovered only a few days earlier at the Cardio-Thoracic Centre Monaco, came to the NFL start line and was then carried by the winner of the 8-day total distance during his last lap. Every one of us was crying seeing the smile on his face.”