The 10th edition of the Ladies Vintage Car Rally took place on Sunday, September 10th, with nearly a hundred women – and for the first time – men stepping out to support Child Care Monaco. This year’s dress code: “The Charleston”, a nod to Prince Rainier as 2023 marks the centenary of his birth.
Now, usually, I would write about how unique this fundraiser is, how it shines a very bright light on women in Monaco and how wonderfully they can come together for a humanitarian cause. I would probably say that Martine Ackermann founded Child Care Monaco in 2012 with a mission to “promote and help the education of disadvantaged children in the world”, and has on-the-ground projects in India, Guatemala and South Africa. And, surely, I would add that Martine not only pours her heart into organising this vintage car rally for women (with the help of Bernhard, Theo, Carla, Annie, Dominque and David Golland), but she also finds the time to support each and every one of us for our events across the year.
Instead, I want to share other rally driver’s experiences. Throughout the day, I spoke with familiar faces and new faces to the Ladies Vintage Car Rally.
Here are the day’s highlights: 8:15am: Breakfast at the Café du Paris. I met up with Olive and Maria, and Tracy. (Scroll down for lots of photos.)
9:45am: Departure of 39 classic cars, including a 1947 Delahaye 135 MS and 1962 1500 Giulia Spider Alfa Romeo, courtesy of the Prince’s Car Collection and its director, Valérie Closier. (WATCH VIDEO TOP OF ARTICLE).
12pm: The group made their way west past Nice and up to Opio to the secluded (this was a speakeasy, after all) Le Mas des Geraniums, where lunch was followed by roulette, a tombola and dancing, and not necessarily in that order. Here is Béatrice Bordier and Magali Jacquet-Lagreze from CFM-Indosuez Monaco,
12pm: The group made their way west past Nice and up to Opio to the secluded (this was a speakeasy, after all) Le Mas des Geraniums, where lunch was followed by roulette, a tombola and dancing, and not necessarily in that order. Here is Béatrice Bordier and Magali Jacquet-Lagreze from CFM-Indosuez Monaco, which donated the use of six cars.
5 pm: The post-lunch route led to afternoon tea at l’Antre Potes in Eze. Newcomers Simone and Audrey share their thoughts.
7pm: The day comes to an end with a prize giving in the presence of Princess Stephanie at Castelroc, next to the Palace.
Breakfast shots from the Café du Paris.
Article first published September 11, 2023. All photos and videos copyright Nancy Heslin.
His awe-inspiring new restaurant, Conscientiae, is the place to be. Not in the “Look at me, I’m dancing on the tables” kind of way, but rather to “BE”.
“This is a new chapter but not a new Stars’N’Bars,” affirms Didier. “Stars was a big family institution that Kate Powers and I were very lucky to have created. This is continuity but we have to differentiate ourselves from that brand with a new name. I am excited to face this new challenge, something that is so positive.”
When Conscientiae opens on July 29, there will be no lingering sentimentality from the previous space. Gone are the shiny cars and memorabilia covering the walls with big screen TVs and music. Instead, the zen-garden vibe interior will feature natural materials and plants, mirrors and soft lighting with the noticeable absence of noise: no music or televisions. A spectacular six-meter olive tree will hold court in the middle of the marble-finished bar.
Open all day, the main floor restaurant (with a terrace from September) will serve 200 customers total a day instead of 800 with lunch (12-3 pm) and dinner from 7 pm. There will be afternoon tea with, say, a choice of a sandwich or homemade cake, and breakfast will be available in due time.
Having arrived in Monaco 40 years ago as a classically-trained chef, Didier has “pioneered the concept of healthier, conscious, and mindful dining” since early 2000s. His awareness for the environment blossomed when he and Kate started spending time on their sailboat, which led them to cofound Monacology back in 2004. “Years ago, 30 miles from the coast the blue Mediterranean Sea lay before you. Now all you see is plastic, tires and pollution. When sailing you’d see a few cruise ships and then, especially before Covid, it was cruise liners and tankers – bigger and bigger – between Spain, Corsica and Croatia.”
With Conscientiae – which in Latin is “con”’ (with) et “scientia’ (knowledge) – Didier has transformed Stars’N’Bars’ 1800-square-metres into the country’s first multifeatured centre for environmental innovation with an eco-oriented restaurant, wellbeing floor and a private club space on the top floor. Even though the concept carries on the sustainable vision Didier and Kate both shared for our planet, there is no point in comparing restaurants.
Conscientiae is completely different – a smaller, calming space to unwind over a 3-hour meal with prices ranging from €16 to €50. “Nowadays we are always rushing around,” says Didier. “Here it will be the opposite. You’ll have a table and space, where you are not bothered by noise and have simple food that is elaborately prepared so you can discover things that you would not have at home.”
Didier is creating a narrative. “There will be a story behind everything we do, from our suppliers – a small producer who raises his animals outdoors and loves them – to serving our neutral water in beautiful crystal-filled glass carafes.”
He explains that locally-sourced plant-based produce will be the stars of his limited menu. While a restaurant garden is in the pipeline from next year, for now Didier is working with Alexandra Garavan, who supplies three-star chefs with vegetables. “I’m not going to tell her what I want; I will ask what she has and we will then make something. That’s the opposite of what happens at the moment.” For the launch, Didier is going back to his kitchen roots to explore a “menu for the planet”.
The zero-waste policy will continue. “We did this with Stars’N’Bars and we will continue to push it further. We will try and reduce waste in the kitchen and our water consumption, with water for rinsing veggies to be reused in the vegetable garden. We will separate and weigh all of our garbage and we will know exactly what comes in and what goes out, in terms of waste. The important thing with portions is for customers to eat everything on their plate so that nothing is thrown away.”
Additionally, no industrial products or processed foods will be used. “Today we have substitutes for plastic packaging, but even these have a life cycle that is really short. It has to stop. If you want to take away a plat du jour, we will make 20 to 30 portions packed in Monaco’s new glass take-away dishes and when there is none left, there is none left. You want a coffee-to-go? Bring your own cup.”
Didier is outspoken when it comes to over-consumption and the environment. “If we look at global warming the best thing is to consume less – it’s the easiest and most rapid technology. Do we need 25 cars? Do we need 10 pairs of shoes? It’s not logical. We overload ourselves, and we have to pay for that. I have a bicycle that’s 30 years old, but it’s not because it’s 30 years old that I need to change it. It works. I don’t understand.
“I’m not against smart growth. With Conscientiae, I’m creating a business concept that doesn’t exist in Monaco. The profitability is simple. Yes, we are lucky to have a huge space to bring together all these values and to shape a thought-provoking platform where entrepreneurs, investors, and tastemakers are brought together to defy the status quo by leading positive changes.”
He acknowledges that, “There will always be people who won’t like this change but we – my manager, my chef, my cleaner – are proud to work in such a place. We will have confidence in our environment, and in human values. It’s not an ego trip, I’ve gained wisdom, I’ve understood.”
Didier stops for a moment and leans in. “You know, I’ve met many small producers and when I see their passion in growing each tomato, when they explain each plant, I think, ‘Wow, you can no longer just eat a tomato in front of the TV. It deserves to be appreciated.’
“This is what we are trying to communicate. Being aware of this moment that has been given to us. Which is why Conscientiae will really be the place to be.”
The Conscientiae website is under construction. To make a reservation, you have to turn up in person.
The “ordinary” Kretz family has charmed Netflix viewers with its series The Parisian Agency (L’Agence) while showing exclusive multimillion-dollar properties in the most extraordinary locations across France, including a mind-blowing €120 million listing outside of Cannes. With three seasons on the streaming giant, they have opened their first physical office, Kretz Family Real Estate Monaco.
To mark the occasion, a cocktail party at the Palais de la Scala location kicked off the launch on Wednesday, April 5. Parisian Power couple Olivier and Sandrine Kretz, who founded the agency in 2007, were on hand with son Valentin.
WATCH VIDEO: Valentin Kretz of The Parisian Agency on Netflix talks about how the family ended up opening an office in Monaco.
Also at the meet and greet were the two dynamic women who will run the Monaco office, Elodie Stienlet and Elisabeth Kozulina, both partners of Kretz Family Real Estate Monaco.
Before Netflix, the Kretz Agency dealt mostly in and around Paris, and Montpellier, where Martin studied at university. Netflix picked up “The Parisian Agency” reality show from cobuyers TMC and TF1 and now distribute it in 190 countries with subtitles in 35 languages. After two seasons on the streaming giant, the family business started developing more in the international property market, which led to the Monaco office.
“We now get requests from owners to put their properties on the show because they understand that the top luxury estates are very hard to sell and this is an amazing new way to reach people,” says Valentin Kretz, who worked in investment finance before turning to commercial real estate in New York. When he joined the family business in 2014, older brother Martin was already onboard and younger brother Louis then started in 2017. The youngest of the boys, Raphael, graduated from high school last year and is now doing an internship with the family agency. (Even grandma Majo is a regular on the show.) They work out of their 1930s home office in Boulogne Billancourt and all the sales commissions go into one pot to be divided equally amongst the family.
WATCH VIDEO: Olivier and Sandrine Kretz at Monaco launch reminiscing about the early years.
Not being a franchise is a “huge advantage” and in sixteen years, the Kretz family now counts more than 30 people in their network from Normandy and the Mediterranean to the mountains (Annecy, Courcheval…) and islands (St Baths, Martinique…). They are big in London, Portugal and the US. “We have an extended family through our agency. We work with others who share the same values and there is no fighting, no competition. We follow our clients, and they have expanded everywhere,” says Valentin. Read more about the Kretz family.
WATCH VIDEO: Former BBC producer Rebecca McVeigh weighs in the popularity of The Parisian Agency at Kretz Monaco party.
Robb Report Monaco & Côte d’Azur officially launched at the Monaco Yacht Club on Monday, May 22.
Bringing the voice of luxury to the Principality is Swede Karl-Henry Edstrom, who ran the Robb Report in his native country from 2017 to 2019 before turning his vision to the French Riviera. (WATCH VIDEO).
Karl teamed up with businessman and veteran publisher Luiz Costa Macambira, a longtime resident and the formidable force behind two Forbes franchises, Monaco and the Netherlands. Luiz cemented his reputation in the Principality in building the Forbes Monaco brand through its print and digital platforms, supported by exclusive UHNW events from 2018 to 2022.
The two Robb Report Monaco & Côte d’Azur publishers are working with seasoned creative director Peter Soderberg to produce four issues in 2023 (six next year) which will be on sale at 450 newsstands, bookshops and airports in Monaco, the French Riviera, the French Alps and in Paris. The May 2023 “Launch Issue” (146 pages; €12) will be followed by “Best of the Best” on July 12.
Robb Report dates back to 1976, when it was a mimeographed antiques newsletter founded by Robert White trying to sell collectibles. Four decades on, it counts 19 international editions worldwide and was described by Forbes as “a bible of bling for America’s most conspicuous consumer.”
In 2016, Penske Media Corporation acquired the Robb Report. The media giant, who owns Variety, Rolling Stone, The Hollywood Reporter, Billboard and others, says the “Robb Report is the global voice of real luxury, with its fingers on the pulse of the latest superlative products and experiences that today’s modern consumers seek.”
“Real luxury” perfectly sums up the Robb Report Monaco cocktail Monday evening on the Observatory Deck. Even the €100,000 Hästens bed set up for the launch paled in comparison the 200 UHNW residents and guests who came to support Luiz. (Spoiler alert: expect more titles from Luiz later this year.)
I have come to the conclusion that Planetary Health is like the unpredictable relative no one wants to invite to a family gathering. You know what I’m talking about, that family member whose presence makes others feel uncomfortable because inevitably there will be drama. Instead, everyone pretends everything is normal, hoping the problem will magically go away. But it only gets worse. Year after year.
And I get it. Planetary Health is a monumentally complex and distressing topic and, on top of that, we are in a race against time. The reality is that the planet is facing a double environmental crisis – the climate crisis and the biodiversity crisis. We are on track to reach 1.5°C global warming as early as 2034. In parallel, we have seen a 69% decline in the world’s wildlife populations in the past 40 years.
Beyond the headlines, it is not all doom and gloom. There is hope to ensure a sustainable future for people and nature, but it will require a rapid and transformative shift across sectors to drastically reduce emissions and fundamentally change the way we produce, the way we consume, and the way we finance.
This is where Re.Generation comes in (See Videos Below). This latest initiative from the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation’s (PA2F) brought together six brilliant women and four outstanding men from around the world for its first Re.Generation Future Leadership Program, which rounded off two weeks of training on July 13.
Not to be confused with youth leadership for entry level skills, this group of Millennials is recognised already in helping to fight climate change and biodiversity loss in four areas – Startsups and Business, Storytelling, Communities and Finance. They are representatives of a generation who are convinced that another way of using Earth’s resources is possible, convinced that we must protect and regenerate nature.
These Re.Generation cohorts are carrying the weight of your future on their shoulders. They are not afraid to look Planetary Health in the eyes or call out others who fail to do so, offering solutions with a powerful sense of urgency. I know because I had the good fortune of spending the last two weeks watching them in action and listening to their concerns.
I encourage you to watch the videos below to put a face to their names and stories. These individuals are a reflection of how the Prince Albert Foundation is stepping up its drive to accelerate change by engaging Millennials and creatives in innovative ways to help spread the message. And I assure you, this Re.Generation group may have arrived in Monaco as leaders. But they leave as experts.
Startups(WATCH VIDEO) The world has set very ambitious targets for 2030 to protect 30% of land and sea, and to restore what has been degraded. But 2030 is tomorrow, some 78 months away. What is the role of startups and the business sector in this vision?
Colombian Federico Perez is the Founder and CEO of Selvitas, a company focusing on nature-based solutions and social equity in Latin America, particularly to tackle deforestation.
Sabrine Chennaoui is the co-founder and CEO of the Tunisian green start up, MONSAPO, which looks to revolutionise chemical products we use every day, and she is an advocate for empowerment of women in the workplace.
Finance(WATCH VIDEO) The Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation launched this year its Re:Ocean Fund, a private equity fund dedicated to SDG 14 that will support startups focusing on marine pollution, blue food, ecosystem protection and restoration, and equipping ocean stakeholders with robust and transparent data. What role can these kinds of funds play to help scale up innovative solutions?
Storytellers(WATCH VIDEO) How to get the message out, both to policy makers and to the general public, to help instigate the transformative sectoral and societal change that we need to tackle the environmental crisis we are living?
Valy Phommachak is the founder of Econox Laos, a social enterprise for environmental protection strongly involving local communities. She also founded Econews Laos, the first and only environmental news platform in the country, and is an advocate for youth empowerment.
Imogen Napper – aka the “Plastics Detective” – is a British marine scientist and National Geographic Explorer who is researching plastic pollution and its sources. Her work influences policy change and was used as a basis for new legislation banning certain products.
Communities(WATCH VIDEO) To put solutions into place, transparency, inclusivity, and co-construction are crucial, making sure that no one is left behind. Local communities and indigenous peoples are often at the forefront of impacts of climate change and nature degradation.
Victoria Herrmann is a storyteller and geographer from the US works very close with communities on adaptation pathways to climate change, ensuring the empowerment of local communities in safeguarding their cultural heritage.
A 2021 Pew Research Center report showed that 69% of American adults surveyed say large businesses and corporations are “doing too little to address climate change” while two-thirds say “ordinary Americans are doing too little to help reduce the effects of climate change.”
The research also stated that 71% of Millennials (born 1981–1996) believed that climate should be top priority to ensure a sustainable planet for future generations compared to 67% for Gen Z (1997–2012), 63% for Gen X (1965–1980) and 57% for Baby Boomers (1946–1964).
Article first published July 16, 2023. Feature image: Re.Generation Program/Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation.
Sustainable luxury designer Runa Ray reminds me that there is more to the Prince Albert Foundation than meets the eye. (WATCH VIDEO above.)
Sure, since it was created in 2006, the non-profit organisation PA2F has given out more than €100 million in grants and been involved in 750 projects dedicated to planetary health, including Beyond Plastic Med: BeMed, Human Wildlife Initiative, Forrest and Communities and, in our backdoor, the fantastic Pelagos Initiative. And yes, the PA2F Planetary Health Gala attracts some pretty big names: Leo, Sting and Redford.
Yet if you happened to stop by the first edition of the free Green Shift Festival last week on Promenade du Larvotto, you would have witnessed the Foundation’s other star power: partnering with those not–so–celebrity names who work relentlessly at a grassroots level using art to inspire a public shift of consciousness when it comes to environmental issues.
One of those stars is Runa Ray. The bio-couture designer was in Monaco for the Festival June 7-10 encouraging people to write messages of their commitment to the ocean as part of her Ocean Flag initiative, which is an endorsed activity by the United Nations Ocean Decade 2021-2030.
“I have been working with the Foundation mostly as a sustainable fashion designer,” Runa told me at the Green Shift Festival. “And this is using fashion’s waste for a social cause, which connects humanity and speaks about environmental purpose, which can be linked to climate justice and social justice.”
The Bangalore-born artist added, “These messages are going to be sewn and this specific flag will be displayed at COP28 UAE in November. People across the world – orphans in Ukraine who have sent in their commitments, India, the Indo-China border, San Quentin State Prison, and now people from Monaco – have all sent in their messages.”
According to the UN, “A three trillion-dollar industry, fashion is responsible for 20% of the global wastewater generated through pesticides for land cultivation, dyes and textiles – which often flows back into the ocean.” The UN says that the Ocean Flag “aims to bridge the gap between fashion’s environmental pollution and educating the public on the detriments of climate change on the ocean through the lens of fashion.”
In addition to being involved with the UN’s Ocean Decade, the author of Fashion for Social and Environmental Justice also works with the UN Environment Programme Faith for Earth. “I have used fashion as activism and education to engage youth and future decision makers and educate students in universities on the intersection between climate change and Peace,” she said.
Runa grew up in a city in the south of India, where the most coveted professions after graduation were medicine, engineering and dentistry. “It was important to be educated in the sciences whereas arts took a back seat,” she described. “India was still adapting to the post-colonial era for the need of the above mentioned professions and peer pressure was at its best with students vying for top honours to establish themselves and the names of their families.”
She studied science but found herself at a crossroads: become a doctor or pursue fashion, a new career path introduced by her mother who said “the world had enough doctors and that fashion could use some help.”
Runa was one of the prestigious few who were chosen to be a part of the ministry of textiles India and study fashion. “Fashion was nascent and I, being of the creative bent of mind, decided to enrol myself at the National Institute of Fashion Technology. It was an arduous process of selection wherein only 120 students were chosen for four centres all over India.”
She excelled in what she described “a wonderful journey where I won the best design collection award”. This led to a Master’s at the Ecole Supérieure des Industries du Vêtement in Paris under the Chamber of Commerce. Studying fashion and marketing helped Runa gain industrial experience in factories and couture houses, where she “notably came across fashion’s waste not just from the standpoint of consumer waste but that which existed within the industry from prototypes to printing, dyeing and even packaging.”
She continued, “One should understand that waste starts from the sketch that is created, from paper to prototype and the final product. This is what probably inspired me to take on being an environmentalist. I loved creating wealth from waste and using fashion as activism to educate and advocate for policy change.
“As I further explored the industry, I came in contact with the highly fragmented garment sector from nomadic workers to the denim industry, which employed young boys to scrape at jeans for the faded look using only sand paper and led to occupational lung diseases because of the fibre in the air, to the tanning industry and dyeing industry, which discharged effluents into water ways at night.”
This would further her reason to connect the arts, humanity and science for the benefit of mankind through fashion. “An environmentalist is one who keeps the environment in the center of everything that they do. I am a fashion environmentalist because I keep nature in the epicenter of my designs, to benefit and find ways to reduce carbon footprint within the industry, and any process that could contribute towards it.”
For Runa, it is “extremely important” to go to the source. “As a fashion designer, it is imperative to understand where your clothes come from, to understand the geography, the geo-political causes, the livelihoods of people engaged, the impact of economy on prices and the control of governments on natural and synthetic fibres.”
She literally goes to the source. “For my Himalayan expedition, I travelled to four villages in Ladakh to document the pashmina goats, their rearing, harvesting of their fur and making it into yarn and final conversion into products. Most of the pashmina farming is government owned, where subsidies are given to the herders. The communities are pastoral and semi-pastoral who depend on goats and yak for income.
“The goats are combed in summer months to get the fine pashmina fur, which is then sent to the de-hairing unit where it is cleaned of any debris. The hair is then sorted into variations depending on their length. The hair is further taken to communities in the mountains of which one would make the yarn and they are paid for their efforts. the yarn is collected and taken to the next village which spins the yarn to sweaters and other products. The products are collected and then sold in the wider market.
“With the advent of climate change, most goats are dying and pastoral communities are moving out into urban dwellings to find jobs, which means that by 2050 we would have most of our pashmina farmed and not free-raised as they are currently in the Himalayas.”
Runa, who dressed Grammy award-winning artist Laura Sullivan, will be creating a multi-episode docuseries to be shared with the Prince Albert Foundation to enable wider learning. “It is only right to help amplify the work of the Foundation through fashion and arts, to connect with science and throw light on relevant issues of climate change through storytelling,” she emphasised.
When it comes to fashion and clothes, Runa says the biggest misconception that most people have is that if they donate used clothes to charity, most of the garments find a new life. “This is untrue, because most garments end up in the land fill, as only gently used and slightly worn ones make their way into the secondhand market.
“The one tip I can give consumers is to not follow trends, but stick to classic buys that will last for years, where quality and style will never go out of fashion.”
Runa Ray is currently working on a trip to Sudan to connect with displaced communities and their dying art of weaving, which is impacted by civil war.
Princess Charlene once said, “Rugby is a sport that has always been close to my heart and the values of discipline, teamwork and respect for others are ones that set an example to the sporting community.”
Nowhere was this more exemplary than Saturday, April 22, at the Sainte Devote Rugby Tournament. Organised by the Monegasque Rugby Federation with the support of the Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation, the annual international under-12 tournament has been held at Stade Louis II since it began in 2011.
The opening ceremony at 10:30 am was exceptional this year. Prince Albert, Princess Charlene, Hereditary Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriella watched on as Scottish pipers (VIDEO above) entered the stadium leading team Impis, meaning Zulu Warriors, the rugby sevens team created at the request of the Princess six years ago.
On April 8, the Impis pulled of an unexpected win in Scotland at the Melrose Sevens, the oldest rugby sevens competition in the world, dating back to 1883. This was the Impis’ first victory and the champions were in Monaco to present the trophy to Princess Charlene at the Sainte Devote tournament. (See VIDEO end of article.)
Impis captain Tyler Bush was Ambassador of the 2023 Sainte Devote Tournament. Tyler, who started playing rugby at age 12 in Jamaica, explains the significance of the Melrose Sevens win for the young team and talks about their impressive visit in Scotland to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNIL). (WATCH VIDEO).
The Princess Charlene Foundation has provided financial support for RNIL’s global drowning prevention projects over the past decade. But support goes beyond RNIL. Since its launch in 2012, the Fondation de Princesse Charlène Monaco has backed over 510 projects, reaching more than a million people in 40 countries, teaching them to swim, to learn essential water safety skills and “to appreciate the values of sport that are so dear to me.” Two of their worldwide programs – “Learn to Swim” and “Water Safety” – are aimed at children who are at risk of drowning. The “Sport & Education” initiative offers sports activities to contribute to children’s wellbeing and development.
Tyler and Impis teammate Conan Osborne, also Jamaican, attended one of the Foundation’s drowning prevention programs yesterday at the Stade Louis II pool. They encouraged the 85 children from seven teams in the Sainte Devote tournament who were taking part in various activities and workshops, from CPR to water polo. The program was supervised by Pierre Frolla and the Académie Monégasque de la Mer, with the support of the Monegasque Red Cross.
There is a super-powered synchronicity between the pool and the pitch, thanks to Princess Charlene, and rugby is fast on its way to becoming Monaco’s national sport. This is also due to the outstanding efforts by the Monegasque Rugby Federation, which was founded in 1996 and has been heavily invested in bringing rugby to all walks of life.
“Having had a national rugby sevens team that won the European Championship tier 3 in 2013, the federation also strives to give opportunities to the upcoming generations,” Nicolas Bonnet, national technical director of the Monegasque Rugby Federation told me previously.
The other outstanding rugby initiative in the Principality is an exchange as part of the Foundation’s Sport and Education program. “One major aspect is the Monaco U16 rugby team going to South Africa as an extension of the South Africa-Monaco Rugby Exchange. The trip is an incredible opportunity for the Monegasque team and allows them to discover South Africa while playing rugby,” Bonnet said.
Credit for the development of rugby in Monaco is due in part to the Federation’s indefatigable president, Gareth Wittstock, who is also Secretary General of the Princess Charlene Fondation and has been actively involved in the success of the binational Impis, made up of four players from Monaco and eight from all nations. The Impis competed in the 2017 Dubai sevens. The team ranked 4th in 2018 before climbing up to 3rd in 2019, when 100,000 spectators devoured rugby over the tournament’s 50th anniversary weekend. In addition to the Impis men’s team, a women’s team was formed in 2021. Princess Charlene herself who chose the name “Umusa,” which means grace in Zulu.
Rugby fever could certainly be felt at the 2023 Sainte Devote Tournament. This year saw a record number of players from 20 teams representing 17 countries: South Africa, England, Andorra, Belgium, United Arab Emirates, Ecuador, Spain, France, Georgia, Mauritius, Italy, Luxembourg, Morocco, Monaco, Norway, Senegal and Switzerland.
Also on the agenda Saturday, as with every year, “Tots Rugby” for 2- to 7-year-olds taking their first steps with a rugby ball, and “Rugby for Everyone” educational workshops and competitions adapted to children with disabilities.
This first time I popped by to check out this tournament, which is free to the public, was in 2017. Six years on, I am astonished by the number of supporters in the stands and how this tournament has grown. I have said it before and I’ll say it again, the Princess’ Foundation has a unique ability to shine a light on Monaco’s sense of community and sportsmanship through events, all of which—whether swimming, golf, rugby, the Riviera Water Bike Challenge or Sunday’s Champagne & Oyster Cycling Club 140 km St-Tropez-Monaco charity bike – are 100% eco-friendly requiring only physical energy as fuel.
No matter what the score, everyone at Stade Louis II was a winner today.
WATCH VIDEO: Impis presenting Prince Albert and Princess Charlene with Melrose Sevens trophy.
WATCH VIDEO: Could you sing Monaco’s national anthem?
Article first published April 22, 2023.
Have you checked out Jean-Pierre Yves art exhibit at the Prince’s Car Collection? One of his works will be auctioned with proceeds going to the Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation.
His long blond hair earned him the nicknamed “casque d’or” (golden helmet). The BBC called him a “cult figure” in France. Jean-Pierre Rives played for France’s rugby team from 1975 to 1984 and was the first captain to lead the team to victory against the All Blacks in New Zealand on July 14, 1979. The flanker was the country’s first truly international rugby star.
Yet despite a record-breaking career in rugby, as a child Jean-Pierre had always been fascinated by colour and form and dreamt of the Beaux-Arts. Born in 1952, in Toulouse, perusing art was not an option for his generation, especially as his grandfather was a cyclist and his father favoured tennis.
When Jean-Pierre retired in 1987, after winning 59 caps for France (34 as captain) and two Grand Slams in 1977 and 1981, he gave away his game jersey and trophies because for him, what mattered most, were the people: “Rugby is the story of a ball with friends around and when there is no more ball, friends remain.”
The soft-spoken artist reflects, “Both rugby and art both are based on emotions.” (Watch Video).
The studios may have come knocking – he appeared in three films: Qui sont mes juges? (1987); Connemara (1990); and Druids in 2001 – but after discovering the work of sculptor Albert Féraud, Jean-Pierre fulfilled his calling.
As a renowned sculptor who has lived in Mendocino, California, and has a home in Grimaud, Jean-Pierre’s art has been shown around the world, in New York, Paris, Moscow, Dubai and Shanghai. In 2007, the “Rives sur Berges” outdoor exhibition installed eight of his sculptures along the Rhone River in Lyon during the Rugby World Cup.
Jean-Pierre’s “Abstraction Géométrique” exhibit opened on Monday, April 3, at the Prince’s Car Collection in Monaco. Jean-Pierre and director Valérie Closier welcomed Prince Albert at 6pm and accompanied him along the main floor where paintings and cars came together in the form of art, including a Formula 3000 and Rolls Royce Silver Shadow.
Valérie enthuses, “The work is very colourful, a touch of pop art in the collection, that ties into two customised cars covered with his work. It is the link between cars and art.” (Watch Video.)
This is the first art show at the modernised Prince’s Car Collection in the new La Condamine location and the energy is contagious. Invited guests included Gareth Wittstock, secretary general of the Princess Charlene Foundation. One of Jean-Pierre’s paintings will be auctioned in the Principality later this year with proceeds going to Princess Charlene’s Foundation, which among other activities supports the Monegasque Rugby Federation in organising the Saint Devote Rugby Tournament for youth. This year it takes place on Saturday, April 22, 2023.
Also present were Jean-Francois “Jeff” Tordo (former captain of the French national rugby team and founder of the humanitarian association, Pachaamama), Tiffaney Perlino (president of Monaco’s Women in Motor Sport Commission), Brigitte Boccone-Pagès (president of Monaco’s National Council), and Martine Ackermann, founder of Child CARE Monaco and the Monte-Carlo Women’s Vintage Car Rally, this year on September 10).
Valérie hopes to bring in several exhibits every year to create a “living space” that will keep people coming back. (Breaking News: Monaco Fashion Week will have its catwalk to the backdrop of the cars and art in May.)
This is the first time Jean-Pierre Rives, 70, is sharing his “Abstraction Géométrique” with the public. The exhibit runs until the end of May at the Prince’s Car Collection at 54 route de la piscine. Admission is €10 or €5 for under 18. Open daily 10 am to 7 pm.
The Kate Powers Foundation (KPF) became an official Monaco registered non-profit in June 2022 and their first event honoured the loss of one of Monaco’s most respected and loved personalities by inviting the community to celebrate her birthday on July 16. (Kate died on on August 30, 2021.)
“It was community that Kate was most passionate about. She was always bringing people together,” says KPF vice-president Karen Bond.
On Tuesday, March 28, the KPF hosted its inauguration party to introduce their first project, Kate’s Fountains, which aims to have filtered water fountains at schools, existing locations and portable fountains at events. “Everyone knows that Kate was passionate about two things in Monaco – community and the environment,” shares Karen. “The water fountain project brings these two interests together by reducing single-use plastic in the community and the Principality.”
According to a 2022 Earthday.org fact sheet, humans use in total about 1.2 million plastic bottles a minute – that’s 20,000 a second – and an estimated 91% of plastic is not recycled. And the Ellen Macarthur Foundation reports that the 150 metric million tons of plastic rubbish in the ocean is estimated to reach 600 million by 2040.
350 people attended the cocktail at Twiga, which was in the presence of the Foundation’s honorary president, HSH Prince Albert, who spoke a few words about Kate’s dedication to the planetary health and th environment. Mike Powers read a letter Kate wrote in 2007 about the urgency of Monaco’s community cleaning up our planet and Didier Rubiolo read the letter in French.
The KPF also launched their partnership on Tuesday with the Water Smart Foundation to provide fountains offering free filtered water throughout the community.
The inaugural event was sponsored by Twiga, Twiga World, Water Smart Foundation, Pure Ionic Water, Mind Your Waste Foundation, Mon Eau, WET Environmental, IBD Monaco, Cap Gin, Lily Bui Finest wines, Silver Gecko vodka, Blue Coast Beer, Mc Performers, ED Wright Images, Nitin Sachania Photography, Shimmer Walls, Burgess and MDV.
“We are excited to work with the Principality of Monaco, its schools and businesses,” enthuses Karen. “The KPF initiative is designed to drive awareness, educate the community, and engage everyone interested by taking action to reduce the consumption of plastics and protect the earth and oceans, by valuing water as a precious resource.” The Foundation is hoping to work with the Ministry of Education and invite schools to take the #BigBillionBottleBattle plastic challenge.
Karen emphasises that creating community involvement in the use of filtered water fountains requires a multifaceted approach. “By educating the community, providing incentives, involving local businesses, and hosting events, we hope to encourage people to use filtered water fountains and promote sustainability.”
Kate’s Fountain sponsorship starts at €8,500 but a donation of any amount toward Kate’s Fountains would be appreciated. “We are accepting donations on our website to sponsor fountains and future projects for the Kate Powers Foundation.” Emily and Keith Chapman, Mike and Paola Powers and Murat Vargi are a few of the first names behind fountain sponsorship.
Through Kate’s Fountains, Monaco’s school community, local businesses and event organisations have a chance to empower each other by uniting to make a difference. Kate would be proud.
“Kate was Love in Action. Love for the community and the common good. She was always there to listen and provide pastoral care for anyone who needed it. And as one of her true loves in life was for the earth, that is why we KPF choose the water project,” smiles Karen.
Kate Powers Foundation Board: (R-L): president Rhonda Hudson; vice president Karen Bond; treasurer Ina McLaughlin; secretary Marina Jahlan Matkova; public relations Martina Rukus; sponsorship & events Melinda Nelson; business relations Donatella Campioni; youth coordinator Cecilia Faggionato; and marketing & creative director Natasha Girardi pictured with Lilou Mace.
“I’ve known of Kate Powers for 40 years, ever since I arrived in the Principality, and personally for the past 25 years. What a delightful human being she was! My culinary and metaphysical experiences with her in Stars ‘n Bars are too numerous to note, but my memories of meditating with Kate, eating with Kate and playing games with her and so many others who loved and admired her are written in my heart. I will always miss her…”John McLaughlin
“Kate was an amazing lady and the Foundation is such a fantastic way to ensure everything she stood for and supported in Monaco lives on in her memory and continues to make a difference within the community.”Paula Radcliffe
This article was first published March 21, 2023 and updated on March 30, 2023.
Last Tuesday in the port of Nice, Fred Ghintran and his son were having an after-school snack near the plage de la Païole, between the war memorial and the dyke. Fred, an Ironman with swimming pool rescue training, was shocked when he spotted a man jump in the water. The sea swell was around a meter and rising, smashing into the rocks of Rauba Capeu. The 30-year-old swimmer was tossed around and soon lost consciousness, floating about ten meters from the rocks.
Fred, 43, knew the man was going to die if nothing was done. He called the firefighters and dove into the water, pulling the man away from the seawall about 40 meters. It was a close call. As he told Nice-Matin, he had calculated he could hang on for about five minutes before a rescue team arrived. Sure enough, the Commandant-Croizé soon arrived with four pompiers on board and the two swimmers were pulled out of the 14°C water. The firefighters managed to resuscitate the victim, who remained in critical condition at Pasteur 2 hospital.
“I tried to save him. I did what I could. We are lucky to have great firefighters who do an admirable job every day. They too put themselves in danger,” Fred said humbly but he warned: “You should not approach the edge when there is a wind like that, at the risk of being swept away by a wave.”
Fred and the firefighters had to risk their lives because of one man’s lack of judgement. It is not about getting in the water, but being able to get out. (By the way, Fred owns Le Felix restaurant in Nice. Go there – have a coffee, order a meal, anything to support this hero.)
Before you chime in, “That’s why I don’t swim in the sea”, remember that the conditions over the past week have been exceptionally dangerous, a combination of large swells and strong winds. One way to stay safe in the water is swimming with a group.
This is where Matteo Testa comes in. He launched SWIMRUN Monaco in December last year. “I was solicited by the newly founded Federation de Triathlon Monegasque, and with a small group of passionate people residing in Monaco, we decided to create the sport association.”
Matteo says the aim is to grow the local community, attract passionate and professional athletes from abroad and offer new sport experiences to people. “Through our SWIMRUN Monaco network, we approach swimrun paying attention to both water safety and developing the sport for the younger generation, as well as having a sustainable philosophy for all our activities.”
Matteo hails from Finale Ligure, in Liguria, about 100 km east of Monaco. “Finale Ligure is known as the ‘Mecca’ of outdoor activities – mountain biking, rock climbing, hiking, trail running, surfing – with an incredible and unique playground. On my free time I was a mountain bike and outdoor guide there, but then I decided to move to Monaco and focus on family and my primary job.”
Sports have always played a role in Matteo’s life. At the age of 8, he was competing in swimming and alpine skiing. He started motocross at 13 and did his first triathlon at 19. “I have continued consistently with running, swimming, triathlon, mountain bike competitions, windsurfing, kitesurfing and exploring new places and new disciplines.”
Then he discovered swimrun, where you alternate between running and open water swimming over multiple stages outdoors without changing your clothes (so yes, you swim in your running shoes and run in a wetsuit). The sport ÖTILLÖ swimrun was founded in the Stockholm Archipelago in 2006 by Michael Lemmel and Mats Skott, who both stepped down from the organization in February 2023.
“I actually did my first swimrun race in Italy, near where I was born, and it was a solo competition and we were 40 participants at the start. Despite losing one of my paddles at the first swim and taking the wrong route three quarters into the race, I still won. I could not believe it. Since that race I continued training in swimming, running and swimrunning, which I do between three to four times a week.”
Matteo was so passionate about the sport he organised two editions of EPICBLUE Swimrun Finale Ligure in 2019 and 2020 and designed a series for Turkey and Indonesia, which unfortunately did not happen due to Covid. In April 2021, he ran a successful 3-day swimrun camp in Roquebrune-Cap Martin. “We offered a training program dedicated to swimming and running, with a swimrun outing each day on the most beautiful courses of our region – Cap Martin, Cap Ferrat and the Italian boarder. Nicolas Rimeres provided professional coaching and after-session analysis and there was yoga-relaxation around the resort pool.” The camp (photo above) was a hit. 25 participants from France, Switzerland and Sweden came together with a medium-to-good level in both swim and run disciplines. Expect more local camps and in Sardinia (dates to be determined). “Beginners are always also welcome in our future camps.”
And he means it. Matteo may be a high-performance endurance athlete, but he embraces sportsmanship, waiting for and encouraging others or slowing his pace to not leave anyone behind. Everyone knows him. “It is true, I know nearly everyone in the world of swimrun and especially in the endurance sport network, local and international. And this what it drives my enthusiasm. I love to connect to people and to share experiences with them.
“We recently heard news about changes to ÖTILLO management and there are new expectations within the community about how this brand will evolve and what changes this will bring to the discipline. I see swimrun growing in our area and strongly believe there will be a huge development in 2024/2025. Covid slowed down the forecasted exponential growth of this sport, but swimrun continues to make progress in France and the rest of the world, even if it still struggles to get established in Italy … but that will come.” (By the way, France is the first and only country to have an official Swimrun national team.)
Matteo, who is founder and manager of H20 Maritime, an independent consultancy firm in yachting, is focusing his energies and resources into a new platform dedicated to sport exploration and travel experiential, which will hopefully launch a new swimrun race and concept in Monaco. “Along with my team, we have conceptualised an eco-conscious MÖNACÖ SWIMRUN event that will explore zero-waste solutions. The Prince Albert II Foundation enthusiastically approved our idea and accepted to integrate our event into Monaco Ocean Week, the country’s leading event in spreading clean ocean awareness.” The project is currently pending approval from the government for 2024.
The MÖNACÖ SWIMRUN (Ö means Island in Swedish) event during Ocean Week is not to be confused with SWIMRUN Monaco, the new association that acts as a sports club building membership, organising regular training and swimrun outings in Monaco and neighbouring France and Italy. “We aim to bring the sport to a different level here in Monaco, where our community is predominately made up of CEOs, doctors and other professional individuals with a passion for adventure multisport in this area,” says Matteo.
They are off to a strong start with 15 founding members. “Our regular outings are set to begin this spring starting with a special experience in partnership with Waouh le Sud for France 3 TV Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur. This media coverage opportunity takes place between March 20th-23rd, for anyone who would like to sponsor this initiative.”
SWIMRUN Monaco’s official website will go live later this year but you can follow them on Facebook and Instagram. “For fun” outings will start beginning of April. “Anyone can join. Beginners, those curious and new explorers are more than welcome,” says Matteo, who turns 49 this Sunday March 19th.
He adds, “I train everywhere I go, whether I travel for work or pleasure, to discover new coastlines and lakes. Undoubtedly my favourite playground is Monaco-Roquebrune-Cap Martin and Beaulieu-Cap Ferrat. I see swimrun growing in our area. We invite new people to join and experience the sport with us.”
The next SWIMRUN Monaco event is the convivial “OFF” Swimrun Finale Ligure on Sunday, March 26, with two distances Long (23.3k) and Short 13.3k. For more contact Matteo Testa: firstname.lastname@example.org or to become a member of SWIMRUN Monaco sign up here.