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

Parfumerie Edith Harlay

Florence Pronzati founder of Edith Harlay. Photos: Nancy Heslin

Before Covid took over headlines this year, it was announced that the Centre Commerical in Fontvieille would be expanded into a 4-storey glass building with a multiplex cinema, a 600-spot car park and state-owned housing on the top floor. The €300 million project is scheduled for delivery in 2027, and will see the shopping mall expand from 13,000 sqm to 14,000 sqm of retail space, growing from 38 to 70 stores.

The Centre Commerical first opened its doors in 1992 and nearly half of the original shops are still there. One of them is the independently owned perfumery Edith Harlay, created by Florence Pronzati and named as homage to her mother.

Energetic and welcoming, Florence was truly born for customer service. Not only does she have a natural ability to make people feel happy but, in her opinion, “A sale is not a sale unless you’ve spent one-on-one time with a client giving advice.”

As a child, the Monegasque was “always attracted to pretty things and makeup.” She studied to become an aesthetician and in 1987 opened the beauty institute Cristal Esthétique, which she operated for five years. She then launched Edith Harlay in 1992. “I ran the two business for a few years and then decided to concentrate on the perfumery and so I sold Cristal, which is still around today.”

It’s been a tough year for commerce having to close completely for two months during the first coronavirus confinement. “It has been hard but Christmas is coming and we are still here smiling even with a mask,” Florence assures.

And she has noticed a trend as a result of the pandemic. “Consumers are trying to shop intelligently. Before Covid, we’d have 80 people come into the store and 50 would buy something. Now we have fewer customers but out of the 50 who come in, 48 make a purchase because they need something.”

Florence emphasises, “Customers can’t touch anything in the store. We help the client and we disinfect all the time, from the debit card machine after every use to the store itself. For every one or two customers who turn around and leave because they don’t like the new measures we have in place, I have 8 others who say thank you. If one of my employees tests positive, I would have to close.”

Including Florence, the perfumery has a team of five, all aestheticians, who give lots of advice, whether a client wants to buy makeup – “we take the time to show them by example, doing one eye and then letting them do the other”– or perfume. “Whether you want to buy for yourself or as a gift, there are a number of questions we ask to match a perfume with a personality, such as are you an introvert or extrovert, do you live in a sunny climate, what is your work environment?”

The top selling perfume at the moment for women is Libre by Yves Saint Laurent. J’adore remains a hot item, as does any Chanel scent, and Idôle by Lancome, which came out last year. Florence also carries the niche perfume, Serge Lutens (€120), which is hard to find elsewhere.

I did not know this but Florence explains for many French women born in the Sixties and Seventies, Nina Ricci’s L’air du Temps, with its signature dove bottle stopper, was their first fragrance. “It was my first perfume,” says Florence, “and now Les Sorbets by Nina Ricci, part of her Les Belles collection, is what young girls often wear.”

For many French women, Nina Ricci’s L’air du Temps was their first perfume.

For men, Terre d’Hermès is the biggest seller at the moment along with Paco Rabanne’s 1 Million cologne, sold in what looks like a bar of gold.

On the makeup side, Florence says, “I cannot say that one brand is better than the other. Chanel, YSL, Christian Dior, Lancôme … it all depends on what you are looking for but we can help you choose.”

The boutique also has a nail bar (€32 for a simple manicure with massage and scrub) and does eyebrow waxing on site.

There are lots of Christmas gift options “for all budgets,” including gift boxes with a focus on certain brands, fun themed gifts packages starting from €19.80, hand made Acqui de Parma candles and even advent calendars for couples.

“I know I’m repeating myself,” says Florence, “but our biggest strength is that we here to explain the products to the customers and it is really satisfying to hear them say ‘Thank you so much, I really appreciate your advice’ as they leave with a purchase in hand.”

Well, when Grace Kelly, who would have been 91 today, picked up the Oscar for The Country Girl in 1955, she said on the red carpet that wearing Chateau Krigler 12 perfume was her “lucky charm.” Maybe Florence Pronzati can help you discover yours.

Open Monday to Saturday, 9:30 to 7: 30 p.m.

Parfumerie Edith Harlay
Centre Commercial Fontvieille

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

La Ligne Idéale Monaco

Cecile Gerbaud. Photos: Nancy Heslin

In the Netflix series Emily in Paris, the American protagonist receives a gift of lingerie from a French client, which she tells him is “a tad inappropriate.” Antoine replies, “I didn’t buy it for me. I bought it for you. I want you to feel sexy and powerful.”

Clearly Antoine out of touch: in the year of Covid and confinements, comfy and cocooning are the tendance.

La Ligne Idéale at 35 blvd Princesse Charlotte has a range of lingerie and nightwear that is comfy-cosy but still provides a validating feeling of oh la la that we all need, even more so when we are staying at home.

Opened more than 70 years ago below the Hotel Alexandra, La Ligne Idéale is supposedly the second oldest commerce in Monaco (Optique Grosfillez opened in 1880). Lyonnaise Dominique Collet took over as owner in 2012 and caters to a loyal clientele aged 20 to 90. “We have 80-year-old great-grandmothers who have been regular customers since their mothers bought them here to buy their first bra.”

The independent lingerie boutique (there are only three in Monaco) sells a variety of brands, mostly made in France or Italy, with styles ranging from classic to plus sexy, appealing to all ages and all tastes. “People stop to look in the window but don’t come in because they think that all shops in Monaco are expensive. This is not true. We have something for all budgets,” says Dominique.

The adorable Cecile Gerbaud who runs the boutique says that lingerie—Ambra, Wocoal, Triumph—is their top-seller, but their collection of silk or velour lingerie-to-wear pieces (nighties, robes, babydolls, nightshirts and pants, Charmeuse camisoles) by Marjolaine for “elegant cocooning” at home has become very popular.

There’s also reshape girdles, pretty but practical nightwear, Girardi tights and stockings and the essential CuddlySocks. And for those looking to spice things up, why not ask Santa for a little HankyPanky in your stocking this Christmas?

Open Monday to Friday, 9:30 am to 6:45 pm.

La Ligne Idéale Monaco
35 Boulevard Princesse Charlotte, 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

Patisserie Riviera

Chef Alex. Photos: Nancy Heslin

This iconic salon de thé at 27 Boulevard des Moulins has been un point de reference. in Monaco since 1955.

Owners Alexander Seleznev (aka Chef Alex) and Nicolai Zhur took over in 2015 having opened Pâtisserie Seleznyoff in their native Moscow in 2004.

Chef Alex studied at the Moscow Culinary Institute and has written several books on Russian cuisine. A famous face is his homeland, he also had his own TV show and made appearances as a celebrity chef on other programs including at La Maison du Chocolat.

Caterina Reviglio Sonnino, Nicolai Zhur and Alexander Seleznev  

At Patisserie Riviera everything is made from scratch and on the premises. Nicolai says that their hottest seller (after the viennoiseries, bien sûr) is their line of gluten-free products—cakes, chocolates (also lactose- and sugar-free) and their Jordan almonds (les dragées).

Along with Caterina Reviglio Sonnino who works at the café and is helping to develop their brand, English, French, Italian and Russian are spoken. During Covid, lunch service has stopped but pop by for a super creamy café crème (€3.50) and croissant (€1.50) in the ornately green tea room or outside terrace. The caviar fridge is still running just fine, too, if you need a snack to go.

Open daily from 8 am to 1 pm. & 3 pm to 7 pm (except Sunday afternoons).

Patisserie Riviera
27 Boulevard des Moulins, 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