Pictures: Monaco Ambassadors Club Christmas Gala

The Monaco Ambassadors Club Christmas Gala took guests to the Upper East Side of New York, with great live music, plenty of dancing, and a very exciting announcement from Club President Christian Moore.

It was in the Salle Belle Epoque of the luxurious Hôtel Hermitage where Monaco Ambassadors Club (MAC) members and guests gathered for the annual Christmas party on Friday 2nd December.

The night began with champagne and picture-taking next to a giant sparkling Christmas tree, where guests were able to catch-up, network, and reflect on the year gone by.

For the MAC, it has been an eventful 12 months. The club, created in 1973 at the encouragement of Princess Grace to promote the values of the Principality of Monaco throughout the world, was this year able to return to hosting many exciting events, under Honorary President Prince Albert II, after years marked by Covid.

“I look upon you all here tonight and I see such a diversity of cultures, religions and ethnicities, and it doesn’t matter what you believe, the idea always being that this world is an amazing place and we have to take care of it,” MAC President Christian Moore said in his speech. “And with the influence that we have, and the clubs that we are creating reciprocal memberships with, we hope to increase the message of sustainability around the world, emulating what HSH Prince Albert works so hard to achieve, and provide not only wonderful events but certainly a message that is worth carrying on.”

The Monaco Ambassadors Club Christmas Gala 2022 at the Hôtel Hermitage

Guests were treated to a delicious four-course meal prepared by Hermitage chefs and headed by SBM’s Director of Culinary Events Philippe Joannes before a raffle sponsored by Monaco artist Daria Usova, who donated a collage personalised with pictures of past MAC events in honour of the Year of the Rabbit.

It was also an opportunity for Christian Moore to make an exciting announcement to club members:

“2023 promises to be a wonderful year for the club. For sometime now, we have been working on some ideas to deliver something special next year, which will mark our 50th anniversary,” he said. “I am proud tonight to announce that next year we will have a physical club house for the MAC!”

The clubhouse will be located in what is currently the Stars ‘n’ Bars Star Deck, which is due to close in late January. It will feature a restaurant, bar and club reserved especially for MAC members, and it will mark an exciting achievement in the club’s history.

Christian Moore also announced that Monaco Life Publisher Eric Brundage has been elected to the MAC Board of Directors.

The MAC Board of Directors at the Christmas Gala 2022

Monaco Life was a proud sponsor of the evening, alongside Barclay’s Monaco Private Bank, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary year, represented by Gérald Mathieu, Managing Director Head of Private Bank Europe and Middle East CEO.

“This year, the MAC Christmas Gala took its inspiration from the New York Upper East Side party scene in honour of Monaco Life and our new member of the board, Eric Brundage,” said event organiser and MAC General Secretary Alessandra Sparaco. “I wanted to have an intimate feeling, but provide a true party ambiance to celebrate the Holiday Season in an international way and I believe we achieved that.”

Guests were treated to a jewellery show and gifted a velvet bag by the Monte-Carlo boutique of  Vhernier Milano, represented by Grassi Claudia, a tailor-made skin treatment by Richmont Monaco, MAC-branded socks donated by Sock Laboratory International, represented by Romanian entrepreneur Ilie Pana, performances by the talented dancers at MC Performers, represented by Rosin Wittstock, and a live show by the Sons of Guns, a band organised by Nico Timmermans of Lion Stone Events, who got everyone up and dancing.

The Monaco Ambassadors Club is now taking membership for 2023. Click here for details:

See a video compilation of the night here, and scroll down for more pictures…

Click on the gallery below to see more pictures of the MAC Christmas Gala. Photos courtesy YG/MAC and Monaco Life


Image above by Monaco Life

Behind the scenes of the Grimaldi Forum expansion

Works on an ambitious project that will double the size of the Grimaldi Forum are due to be completed in 2025, but guests at a recent IBTM business travel expo in Barcelona were treated to a preview of how the future building will look in a brand-new video. 

The dramatic expansion of the Grimaldi Forum is part of the broader offshore extension project currently being undertaken by the Principality. It will see the leading events and conference centre establishment gain an additional 6,000m2 of modular space, resulting in a 50% increase to exhibition capacity. This will allow the Grimaldi Forum to cater to a much larger audience, host a greater number of events simultaneously, and facilitate more original and creative events.  

The spacious new extension will be divided into three main internal zones: the Diaghilev Gallery, the Carré and Patio rooms located on the seaward side of the current building, and the Pinède Hall, with over 3,000m2 of flexible space.  

The new layout also boasts more than 2,000m2 of extra outdoor space, which will make the most of the Mediterranean climate and the centre’s prime location over five separate terrace and patio areas. This includes the spacious Emeraude forecourt and the impressive Ravel Terrace, the latter of which enjoys unobstructed sea views.   

Being completed as part of the Mareterra land reclamation project means that the Grimaldi Forum expansion will need to comply with the very strict environmental requirements imposed. The Forum itself has been certified ISO 14001 since 2008 and, thanks to the existing 1,500 photovoltaic panels on its roof, can already produce enough electricity to supply power to numerous surrounding buildings in the upcoming eco-district.  

The Grimaldi Forum is Monaco’s largest event centre, hosting around 100 events and 250,000 guests each year. 


Photo source: Grimaldi Forum

Iconic British shop on Riviera closes due to Brexit

Geoffrey’s of London and its wholesale branch, French UK Provisions, are to close their doors permanently after more than 30 years of trading. The cause? The “knock-on effort of Brexit” and rising prices.  

It is the end of the road for a business that has provided expats from around the world with comfort and home-from-from provisions for over three decades.  

Geoffrey’s of London and its wholesale department, French UK Provisions, made the sad announcement of their closure via a statement online, saying, “It’s with a heavy heart that we announce the closing of Geoffrey’s of London after over 30 years trading. Due to the knock-on effect of Brexit and the current inflations, it’s been very hard for us to continue this year as normal. We would like to thank all of our loyal customers, all the people we have met along the way. We will miss you all.” 

From its prime position near Antibes’ Port Vauban, Geoffrey’s of London has long been a staple of the international community in the south of France. 

“Geoffrey’s has been a huge part of the Côte d’Azur for so long,” said owners Geoffrey and Elizabeth Garnett. “We all have fond memories of our shop and it will never be forgotten. We are deeply sorry, and we thank every one of our customers for their loyal support over the years.” 

Despite the clear challenges created by Brexit and the changes to import rules between France and the UK, the news has come as a surprise to many of the business’s loyal customers and has been called the “end of an era”.  

Shelves are already half empty and their contents have all been marked down 50%, but the shop is expected to remain open for another two to three weeks – unless the stock is cleared before then. The wholesale department will cease trading at the end of Tuesday 6th December. 



Photo source: Geoffrey’s of London/Facebook


Monaco sees big jump in severe Covid cases

The number of patients hospitalised in Monaco with Covid-19 more than tripled in a week as the coronavirus continues to affect more people in the Principality.

According to the latest figures from the health department, Monaco recorded 210 new cases of Covid in the week ending Sunday 4th December, 53 more than the previous week.

Hospitalisations have also jumped dramatically, going from 10 to 38 in the space of seven days. Of the current patients, 21 are residents. Two non-residents are in a critical condition in ICU.

The incidence rate in Monaco has now hit 536, up from 401 the previous week, with around 20% of all PCR and antigen tests coming back positive.

In the nearby Alpes-Maritimes department, where many of Monaco’s cross-border workers live, the incidence rate has reached as high as 738.

As reported in Monaco Life last week, the seasonal spike in Covid is not surprising. However, the rate of testing and vaccination is vastly different than this time last year.

Last week, 1,711 people tested for Covid in Monaco, compared to 7,051 people exactly one year ago.

According to French government figures, only 56% of people in the Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur region are vaccinated with a booster shot.

Photo by Monaco Life

What are the short-haul flights now banned in France?

France has been given the green light by the European Commission to ban short haul domestic flights, but only where an appropriate rail alternative exists. 

Under the 2021 Climate Law in France, policymakers proposed to abolish domestic flights, making it the first EU member state to move to ban flights on environmental grounds.  

After the announcement, the measures were strongly contested by both the Union of French Airports and the European branch of the Airports Council International, which led to a review by the European Commission (EC). 

On Friday 2nd December, the EC released its decision on the matter, concluding that the proposed ban on short haul domestic flights is justifiable provided that it is “non-discriminatory, does not distort competition between air carriers, is not more restrictive than necessary to relieve the problem, and has a limited period of validity not exceeding three years”.

The EC, having reviewed the French government’s proposal, made the decision to discard five of the original eight flight routes to be banned, leaving only three remaining: the journeys between Paris-Orly and Bordeaux, Nantes and Lyon.  

This was based on the current rail connections not meeting criteria for early morning and late night arrival times, and the specified total travel time exceeding two and a half hours.  

An additional three routes could later be added to the ban, if there is an improvement to rail services and the concept is judged to be success in its aims: flights between Paris Charles de Gaulle and Lyon and Rennes, and between Lyon and Marseille.

France’s transport minister Clément Beaune says, “This is a major step forward and I am proud that France is a pioneer in this area.”

Greenpeace EU, meanwhile, has argued that France’s initiative, while a step in the right direction, is just a “baby step”. Greenpeace had previously suggested, based on a self-commissioned report, that all short haul flights with a train alternative under six hours should be banned. 

It may still be months before the changes to come into effect, but Beaune has stated that the measures will be implemented “as quickly as possible”.  



Photo source: Kevin Woblick for Unsplash

White Castle Partners bringing innovative South Korean business to the Riviera

Following the successful showcasing of innovative South Korean start-ups at Vroom last year, White Castle Partners are once again facilitating their integration into the European market. 

Their immersion into the European market was brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic but will have long-lasting impacts. Asked by the South Korean government to help their businesses integrate into the unknown European market, White Castle Partners heeded the call.

For the second year, White Castle Partners have brought over a select and diverse range of innovative South Korean businesses, and have helped them to understand the market, make connections, and even set up their businesses here in the south of France.

Promoting the south of France is also a facet of what White Castle Partners are trying to do, as founder Peter Madsen told Monaco Life. The businesses, prior to Friday night’s presentations and networking event in Monaco, have been in the region for a week, and have visited places such as Sophia-Antipolis with an eye to relocating, an increasingly popular choice in the post-pandemic business world, as Madsen pointed out.

Photo of Sang Jin Kang by Monaco Life

Sang Jin Kang, CEO of A-Life, a producer of sustainable Vegan food, said that his business was looking to set up factories in Europe. “Our products are based on soybean, and in South Korea that is expensive. We are looking to set up factories here,” said Kang.

White Castle Partners helps businesses understand the European market, which for those such as A-Life, can be highly advantageous. “The South Korean vegan market isn’t that big at this moment in time. In Europe, the market is big, especially in Germany, France, and England. We’re trying to sell our product because we are ready to sell. We are in this region for the first time. We don’t know how to market, how to make it in the market, how to patent, etc. I’m learning about this through White Castle Partners,” said the A-Life founder.

Photo of Rashid Manishev by Monaco Life

Littleone, a business developing a smart baby bottle (as well as a larger range of smart baby products), also benefits from what White Castle have to offer. “The reason we participated in this programme was for us to be connected with baby food companies. Of the 10 top countries, five or six are based in Europe. We are piloting in Portugal and Spain. We are also discussing with Danon in Paris,” Global Business Lead Rashid Manishev told Monaco Life.

By promoting the region, and facilitating the integration of South Korean start-ups into the European market, White Castle Partners are helping to shape the Riviera’s post-pandemic business landscape.


Photo by White Castle Partners