Ecoute Cancer Réconfort

Photo: Manuel Vitali/Direction de la Communication

In October, the Princess Grace Hospital Centre launched its BreastDay Centre devoting a single day to screening, diagnosis and pre-therapeutic support for breast cancer – with having results the same day.

Cancer support is something Valérie Barilaro knows all about. “My father, who left too soon and too young, died of cancer 25 years ago. And as a beautician, which is about wellbeing, touch and listening, I naturally leaned towards helping and supporting others, in particular with Ecoute Cancer Réconfort.”

For the past seven years, Valérie has been president of Ecoute Cancer Réconfort, which on November 29 will celebrate its 30-year anniversary at the Monaco Yacht Club in the presence of Prince Albert and the association’s honorary president, Princess Stephanie.

I had the genuine pleasure to meet Valérie and learn about Ecoute Cancer Réconfort at a MonacoUSA event at Before back in March. The Monegasque association was created in 1992. “Thirty years ago, supportive did not really exist for cancer patients,” explains Valérie. “Our first president, Martine Vacarezza, realised there is an emptiness when you come out of heavy treatments after spending months going to the hospital almost daily. Overnight there is nothing left, no more appointments for three months for that first post-cancer assessment. On the outside everything seems great but for a cancer patient a deep anxiety sets in with the loss of those reassuring hospital landmarks – meeting doctors, routine tests – even if you just want to take your life back.”

Martine had the idea of ​​setting up a support hotline but quickly Ecoute Cancer Réconfort’s founding members understood that more was needed. In the days before VLS (Véhicule Sanitaire Léger/Light Medical Vehicle) taxis that were reimbursed drove people to the hospital, the association offered a car service driven by volunteers to get cancer patients to their treatments. Over time, with a few succeeding presidents, the association evolved with volunteers keeping cancer patients company during chemotherapy.

In 2009, the life-changing Espace Mieux Etre opened its doors at l’Atalante in Fontvieille. This non-medical day care center specialises in free cancer support care provided by seasoned professionals, from psychologists who also practice art therapy through drawing, writing or painting to naturopaths (energy, plantar reflexology, mindfulness meditation, advice on nutrition). Socio-aesthetics (social and aesthetic care) is also on the menu to help manage self-image and confidence in a post-cancer world with treatment side-effects on the skin and nails, as well as alopecia and scarring. Espace Mieux Etre likewise offers sport activities essential to rehabilitation, including tai chi, yoga and hiking, as well as various workshops throughout of the year, in particular, a “self-esteem weekend”.

For anyone like me who has witnessed a family member or friend undergo cancer treatment , this association hits home. Espace Mieux Etre is open to anyone affected by cancer, undergoing treatment or in remission, as well as their families and loved ones, in Monaco and its surroundings.

One cancer patient shares, “There is no way to absorb the news of a doctor announcing face-to-face: ‘You have cancer.’ Time stops and quickly you enter into another world. You do what you have to do but it is not enough. Ecoute Cancer Réconfort is the beginning of mental recovery, a new way of absorbing your sickness. Providing all the various help you need, physical and psychological, in parallel to the treatments, they help you to regain your self-esteem, your strength and advance in your new life. They are not an option, they are an absolute necessity to your full recovery.”

Another expresses, “Ecoute Cancer Réconfort offers us a life despite the disease. We are pampered, like in a cocoon, and this allows us to face everyday life with greater ease. Psychologists, energy treatments, socio-beautician, meditation, conferences, hikes, various and varied workshops punctuate our daily lives and contribute to our wellbeing. The psychological support from each therapist, as well as the benevolence of the volunteers, allows us to go through this period as calmly as possible but also to prepare our future solidly.

“The association is a refuge, a bubble of oxygen and sometimes happiness in our daily lives, and helps us to grow, evolve and come out stronger than before the disease. We can confide without a filter, share our doubts and our fears, which we try to spare our loved ones. It is also very comforting to know that spouses or family can benefit from this support because they need it as much as we do. I am grateful to Ecoute Cancer Réconfort, I wouldn’t be who I am without their help.”

Valérie adds, “A supported patient is a patient who is doing better, who can express his or her fears, talk, exchange with a professional or another patient, or quite simply find an attentive ear, which may not necessarily be the case at home with family or friends. What we see is the evolution of patients over their time with us. Their evolution, their dynamism, their way of bouncing back from the disease when they are accompanied along their journey. We are not concerned only with statistics. ”

This year, Valérie approached Natasha Frost-Savio, president of Pink Ribbon Monaco to help them spread their message during breast cancer month and on Valérie’s initiative, all civil servants in the Principality wore a pink ribbon as a gesture of support and solidarity on October 6. “Even though Pink Ribbon specialises in breast cancer prevention and Ecoute Cancer Réconfort wears several hats, we are partners, like a sorority, and very complementary. Prevention is essential so that we have fewer serious cases on our end.”

The association organises a members’ dinner during the winter and lunch in the summer. “This year for Pink October we had a pink hike where patients could bring whoever they wanted. It gave us the idea to offer it to members for next year. Otherwise, there is the galette des rois in January and the general assembly which allows us to meet our members.”

Valérie says that Ecoute Cancer Réconfort has invited members, sponsors and partners to the anniversary event on November 29, we to says thanks to those who have supported us all these years and without whom this would not be possible. “But we always need new sponsors, donors, members and volunteers to continue our actions because more and more people are becoming sick.”

To donate, volunteer, become a member or learn more, see the Ecoute Cancer Réconfort website.

CHPG’s BreastDay Centre is open Monday to Thursday 9 to 12 and 1 to 5 and Friday to 3:30. For more info, contact +377 97 98 99 55 or contact.sein@chpg.mc

D’Amore Psy Monaco

Prince Albert at D’Amore Psy Monaco cycling event. Photo: Facebook GEMM D’Amore Psy Monaco

According to WHO and a report by the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation, schizophrenia affects 1 in 300 people worldwide and, in 2019, 1 in every 8 people were living with a mental disorder, anxiety and depressive disorders. In 2020, that figure spiked by 26% due to the Covid pandemic. WHO stated, “While effective prevention and treatment options exist, most people with mental disorders do not have access to effective care. Many people also experience stigma, discrimination and violations of human rights.”

Monaco’s Department of Health Affairs is taking mental health seriously and in March launched a plan of 53 initiatives spread over five years, from 2022 to 2027, to improve the monitoring and available care in terms of well-being and psychological balance.

“We are not embarrassed to go see a doctor when we have a health problem. But we are embarrassed to go see a psychiatric or psychological professional, even though it can be useful to us,” said former minister of health Didier Gamerdinger (He was named Monaco’s ambassador to Tokyo in August.)

People with severe and persistent mental disorders – those who are schizophrenic, bipolar, suffer severe depression, personality disorder or obsessive compulsive disorder – struggle with isolation, difficulty in keeping their job, a place to live and in maintaining social and family ties.

Monegasque Karine Latore wrote La force de vaincre (The Strength to Overcome; Editions LC, 2019) detailing her 20-year battle with schizophrenia, beginning with her first experience of depression at age 16 and how she lives in and out of hospitalisations while fighting psychological demons in her daily life. One euro from each book purchase is donated to the association D’Amore Psy Monaco – an association for the regrouping of families and friends of people with mental illness and mental health users – and to GEMM, the Monegasque Mutual Support Group.

Karine’s mother, Béatrice, is president of D’Amore Psy Monaco, an association under the Honorary Presidency of Prince Albert, created in June 2008 to provide help, support and information to families affected by psychiatric disorders.

Béatrice says the non-profit acts as “the essential intermediary with government authorities and the medical profession in order to meet the needs and expectations of families and patients.” D’Amore Psy works with the Psychiatry Department of the Princess Grace Hospital Centre and at UPPM – the Roseraie Unit of Psychiatry and Medical Psychology (7 bis ave des Ligures).

Photo:: Facebook GEMM D’Amore Psy Monaco

Alongside D’Amore Psy, there is GEMM. Founded in 2016, GEMM is for Monegasque nationals and residents who suffer from isolation as a result of psychological and social difficulties and justify psychiatric monitoring in the Principality. Located at 3 ave Pasteur (+377 93 25 12 50), the day-time centre offers members the opportunity of reweaving social ties through cultural and leisure activities, which are chosen and led by fellow members in a spirit of mutual understanding.

“The psychiatry department at CHPG and UPPM in Monaco takes care of patients medically, At GEMM, we take charge of fun activities,” says Béatrice.

D’Amore Psy is a partner of UNAFAM France (National Union of Families and Friends of Sick and/or Psychically Disabled Persons), which is running its 2022 Mental Health Awareness Weeks (Semaines d’information sur la santé mentale) from October 10 to 23 with the theme “Mental health and the environment”. There are several events being organised across the Alpes-Maritimes.

In Monaco, a performance of Un nénuphar dans ma baignoire (A water lily in my bathtub) will be performed at the Théâtre des Variétés on Thursday, October 13 at 8 pm. It is the story of Dr Constantin Pirdas, an ordinary man with a secret: he is bipolar. His artist daughter immerses the audience in the marvellous and dark world of this strange madness. A round table discussion led by mental health workers in Monaco will follow the play. Ticket sales (€20 or for members, €15) will support D’Amore Psy and can be reserved: damorepsy@monaco.mc or call 06 37 58 25 13.

You can also support D’Amore Psy and their bid to have a larger GEMM facility by buying a memberships (€50/year) or making an online donation.

For Béatrice, D’Amore Psy’s mission in Monaco is ongoing : “Demystifying mental illness, providing ongoing care for patients and support for families.”

A reminder that during Mental Health Awareness Weeks, Gavin Sharpe of Riviera Wellbeing in Monaco is offering a taste of The Good Life on October 15. “Mental health is not a topic historically associated with Monaco. I hope we can move the dial.”

Rhonda Hudson, President Kate Powers Foundation

Rhonda Hudson and Kate Powers.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Painting by Dave Van Dorst. Photo: Alicia Sedgwick

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kate Powers’ Birthday

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tombola donations

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

EOLA

Cedric Fruneau at his restaurant EOLA at Place d’Armes. Photo: Nancy Heslin

Cedric “Cedou” Fruneau is not your typical young Frenchman. He gets restless when he takes a week off work and while he just opened his Monaco restaurant EOLA in June 2019, he’s already expanding with a Bistro and speakeasy next door.

Cedric, a professional photographer for Nike, says he has always loved to work but a year and a half spent working in Miami proved to be a real game changer in terms of his work ethic. “When I first arrived in the U.S in 2016, I quickly learned that if you don’t work, you have no money to pay the bills or the rent. When I came back to France it was horrible to see the lack of motivation.”

Travel has played a big role in Cedric’s life. He spent a gap year in London improving his English and lived in Paris. With his Mexican girlfriend Daya (they met at a Mexican restaurant in Nice), the couple trekked around the globe for two years. “We found that it didn’t matter where we were, we could never find a cool café that was healthy and affordable.”

So when they returned to the Riviera, they opened just that in Monaco. Tucked away under the arcades of Place d’Armes, EOLA is a hip “healthy place, promote healthy lifestyle and foods,” where people sip on almond milk cappuccinos while tucking into an Acai bowl. “A lot of foreigners living in Monaco – British, American, Germans, Swedish – come here in the morning after yoga or running because they can find what they are used to back home.”

Between Acai bowls (€9), toast breakfasts (€9) and Poke bowls (€14), vegans, vegetarians, flexitarians and meat lovers will be appeased here. Even Elvis would be happy to see the peanut butter and banana on toast option (€5.50)

“Look, I didn’t invent anything,” Cedric explains. “Avocado toast and Acai bowls have been around for a while but our concept is good – we give people what they expect. And we keep everything simple, because eventually I hope to franchise.”

Still, EOLA’s style is unique, especially for Monaco, and if it was a clothing label, it would be what everyone is wearing.. “When we set up with our round marble tables and wicker chairs, which is different than the other restaurants here, everyone raised an eyebrow. We want to do things differently.”

As an added allure, the dedicated coffee barista can “print” messages and pictures onto your café au lait (no extra charge). And there’s a cold press juicer on site to make a limited amount of the power drink daily, but if they’re sold out, you are out of luck. In keeping with their healthy lifestyle ethos, the restaurant also uses NoPlastic packaging, designed to have a low environmental impact.

EOLA (Eat Organic Live Active), which means “take care of yourself” in Hawaiian, is building a local clientele, which is essential to sustain business. “Even with Covid around, I want customers to leave here happy. Positive brings positive.” Certainly their team really brings this to the table.

During the first confinement in March, EOLA had to close its doors like other restaurants and that was tough for the new business. “Honestly, on the street around us you could see fear in people’s eyes. It wasn’t a good feeling so we shut down but, you know, after a busy first year of business, this wasn’t a bad thing. We focused on our plans and our suppliers, and decided what we wanted to do.” They also spent time with their one-year old. “We did it all in one year, a new business, a new baby and Covid.”

Cedric and Daya decided to offer some items as delivery or take away post-confinement from May 4, and ended up delivering from 8 am to 8 pm in Monaco. They eventually want to open a ghost kitchen in Beausoleil that can take care of deliveries because Cedric has bigger plans on the horizon.

The entrepreneur has taken over two shops on the other side of Valycris coiffeur. “I’m going to have three different concepts,” explains Cedric. “EOLA, a French bistro and a speakeasy.”

He hopes to open the French bistro in early 2021 and then six months later, the speakeasy. “There are no cool places anymore, it’s now all about how we are dressed. We are not going to do that. This will be a place that you’ll know how to get in by word of mouth. But it’s not for tourists and phone cameras will not be allowed so the F1 drivers and football players who are our customers don’t have to worry about their photos being taken.”

Cedric continues with his passion of photography (check out his Instagram) because he wants to keep his creative side alive, but the future is about expanding EOLA. “I can’t pass on ‘my eye for photography’ to my son. That is something you either have or you don’t. But I can teach him about the restaurant business.”

Open Monday to Saturday, 8:30 am to 6 pm

EOLA
11 Place d’Armes, Monaco

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

Les 5 Saveurs à Monaco

Have you taken a walk up in Monaco Ville lately? The situation is heartbreaking. Streets typically filled with the bustle of tourists are at a standstill. Shops and restaurants, some having to pay out €6,000 a month in rent, are facing extinction. As one elderly Monegasque women made clear to me: “Monaco Ville est mort.”

Alexandra Rinaldi, who owns Les 5 Saveurs à Monaco on rue Basse, is trying to survive. No stranger to the Monaco business scene, the Monegasque took over her parent’s business, Rinaldi Ship Chandler, which opened in 1970 on Quai Antoine, and before that, in 2010, she ran Les Trésors de la Mer, a clothing and decoration shop on rue de Millo in La Condamine.

Having sold both businesses, she had the opportunity to open a boutique in Monaco Ville that could cater to both Monaco residents and tourists. “The community on the Rock is elderly but we have people who know our history and share their stories in the streets.”

In March 2019, Alexandra opened Les 5 Saveurs à Monaco with her dog Bella at her side, selling scents of Provence, food and cosmetics. But things were a bit tight. “I ended up having to add some souvenirs to make ends meet. Tourists love anything that says Monaco,” she says.

The first year for any business is never easy, but then Covid hit. “It has been very difficult. I closed on March 14 but had the right to deliver food—tapenade, artichokes, olive oil, jams, herbs de Provence—which wasn’t a huge amount but it helped to pay the rent.”

Alexandra, who has lived most of her life between La Condamine and Fontvieille, reopened post-confinement on May 4. “I was so surprised to see clients from Monaco come that first week to support us. They didn’t spend large amounts but it helped. But by July and August, locals stayed away from le Rocher as tourists slowly came back. From August, it became mandatory to wear a mask in all les ruelles of Monaco Ville. “You didn’t have to wear masks in other parts of Monaco so locals stopped coming altogether.”

Once again, Alexandra reverted to small deliveries to loyal clients. Then the French confinement Version 2.0 began on October 30.

Fortunately, a month ago, she had started to develop her business by selling Italian sweaters and vests—for €29 to €35—from a supplier she has worked with for 15 years. “I tried to find something that you can’t find elsewhere in Monaco so to not be in competition with other businesses here and although it’s not same turnover, it helps. I am going to expand with clothes and handbags that will appeal to passers-by and people from cruise ships.” (In 2019, there were 182,436 cruise passengers in Monaco. Since March 11 and until 2021 cruise ships are banned from stopovers in the Principality).

“In 2021, I’ll stop selling food because I’ve lost so much sales due to the best before dates.”

Alexandra is forthcoming. She admits she doesn’t have the means to buy items in advance and can only sell clothing because it is on consignment.

“As commerce, we are stuck. We can’t buy stock in advance that we don’t know if we are going to sell. This is a huge problem for businesses in Monaco but especially in Monaco Ville with souvenir shops. We already know it will be tough until 2024.”

Alexandra has resorted to putting her boutique up for sale — “I am a relatively optimistic person in life but it has become a hard battle” — but is continuing with business as usual.

Her line of Panier des Sens—natural cosmetics and scents of Provence hand creams, soaps and fragrances all made in Marseilles — is her top seller, for both clients in Monaco and tourists. “The products I love sell well, even with the complications from Covid health measures to wear a mask and using a test stick to try creams.” The Colline de Provence products also sell well.

There is a scent for every budget here. And for Christmas, Alexandra will make up gift boxes from €10 to €150.

Open Monday to Saturday, 10 am to 5 pm or anytime by appointment on 06 40 61 80 28.

Les 5 Saveurs
6 bis rue Basse, Monaco Ville

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

Art-Box.Store

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Green Coffee Monaco

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Cantina

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Cantina
27 ave de la Costa
Galerie Park Palace

Food images courtesy of A Cantina.

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

APEM

Martine Ackermann, President of APEM, the Parent-Teacher Association of Monaco. Photo: Nancy Heslin

Founded in 1965, the Parent-Teacher Association of Monaco (Association des parents d’élèves de Monaco, APEM) represents the majority of 6,000 families who have children attending one of the country’s 10 French public schools and 2 private Catholic schools (see list below).

APEM is non-political association made up of volunteer parents of different nationalities and religions, residents and non-residents, acting as the link between parents and the schools with the Board of Education and government. Martine Ackermann has been president since 2018, voted in three consecutive years at the AGM held every October. 

While the association has its challenges every year – from increasing visibility so that parents understand that APEM is about more than book fairs and school snacks to finically helping families in difficulty for school trips – it goes without saying that the year 2020 presented a whole new ballgame.

“With the health pandemic last year, we have been approached massively by parents who have expressed their concerns,” explains Martine. “For example, we had to answer questions about wearing masks in class, online courses and the 2020 end of year Bac, which confinement completely derailed.” 

Martine reveals that concerns over the health protocol in place at schools has also been a big issue for parents. “We have discussed this with the Department of National Education as well as the government. And even though the situation is being handled very well, parents have legitimate fears. We are here to help them and make their voices heard.”

In a bid to drive membership and help local businesses during this difficult time, Martine has organised a project under the motto “APEM is committed to supporting local businesses.”

As she says, “The Covid crisis is a disaster for commerce, so APEM is partnering for free with local businesses and offering a 10% to 15% discount to our members when they present their valid membership card. This benefits both shops and our members, who very often are running a business themselves in Monaco.”

As president, Martine heads the Steering Committee, which includes two vice-presidents (Raffaella Olivieri and Penda Gebel), a treasurer, (Maria Contaldo), general secretary (Vanessa Erbaggio) and six additional members representing different schools for checks and balances. At the start of each school year, parents can volunteer as part of the General Committee.

“These branches of each school are key,” she states. “It’s the way they represent parents and manage activities in their schools that can give good visibility for the wider APEM.”

JOB ALERT
APEM is looking for a secretary who speaks French and some English
for a part-time CDI contract, Monday to Friday, from 9:30 am-1:30 pm. Flexible hours, minimum wage. Contact: martine007@libello.com

In a “normal” year, APEM attends various committees, like the National Education Committee and Scholarship Commission, where they participate in the allocation of grants for students. They also organise conferences, like the annual Language Travel Forum for parents looking to send their children on an internship at a school abroad (the forum has been postponed to February 2022.)

Up until Covid, one of the big issues APEM was quite involved with was the Catering Committee, discussing organic canteen options and less food waste (especially bread) with the National Education and caterers of the various menus offered to students.

They also work with a commission for children with learning difficulties, the DYS commission, the administrative commissions for the Pavillon Bosio Visual Arts School and the Rainier III Music Academy, the Energy Pact commission and others. 

“The commissions are used to transmit all the parents’ concerns and to offer solutions. We group together recurring questions and then work with the Department of National Education to get results – like reducing the weight of school bag and cutting down on homework during the holidays,” Martine asserts. “All information is confidential. We never give the names of parents who trust in us completely. We are here to defend the interests of students and parents, as well as represent them.”

Martine points out APEM measures progress by the number of new members from one year to the next. “The message to parents is that APEM is all of us – we are all one! Even if parents don’t have the time to get involved, they can join and we’ll represent them.”

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