Introducing ‘This Week in Monaco’, a weekly Podcast by Monaco Life

Didn’t get a chance to read all the news that we published this week? Then listen to ‘This Week in Monaco’, our new Podcast where we talk to the journalists behind the headlines.

In this edition of This Week in Monaco, we talk about:

  • The impact of France’s pension reform
  • The dangers of hunting season
  • Auction fever hits Monaco
  • Top investments for 2023
  • The next phase of Monaco’s digital transition
  • The Paris-Nice cycling race
  • The latest AS Monaco football news

Total time: 18 mins.



Get ready: French unions plan widespread protests over pension reform

Within hours of plans to shake up France’s pensions system being unveiled, unions had called for mass strikes. Economists, meanwhile, say books need to be balanced to protect young workers.  

Amid a raft of proposals to change France’s out-dated pensions system, the most wide-reaching is the intention to up the minimum retirement age to 64.  

This currently sits at 62, increased from 60 by former president Nicolas Sarkozy in 2010. Even now, it remains one of the lowest in the industrialised world and at the bottom of the table in Europe, alongside Greece, Slovakia and Sweden.  

Immediately after the announcement of the plans on Tuesday 10th January by Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne, the leaders of France’s biggest and most influential unions had assembled at the Bourse du Travail headquarters in Paris to refute the government’s overhaul of the system and call on their members to participate in mass national strikes next week, on Thursday 19th January. 

But the first date in what is likely to be weeks if not months of union action, the CFDT, CGT, FO, CFTC, CFE-CGC, UNSA, FSU and Solidaires are firm in their opposition. They have demanded that the government withdraw the proposed increase in retirement age and the acceleration of the Touraine reform enacted by another former president, François Holland, which would see the contribution period required to access a full pension to 43 years.  The goal is simple: “to make the government yield”.

It is the first time in 12 years that all major unions have come together under the same banner.  

“The fact that all the unions are united shows the extent of discontent of employees,” said the general secretary of the CGT union, Philippe Martinez, at a press conference following their discussions. 

According to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, France’s pensions system costs the country almost 14% of its economic output. It is also a convoluted and complex system, involving 42 state-supported schemes with differing age limits and contributions. 

As it stands, the average pension is equivalent to 74% of a salary earned at the age of retirement.  It is a generous system, but one that economists say enriches senior citizens while draining money from the country’s youngest workers.  

In an interview with France 3, a former Bloomberg economist and now director of the Brunswick Group, Maxime Sbaihi, argued that the current system isn’t working.

“The poverty rate is the lowest among retirees and the highest among the youngest. Today’s poor are young people starting out in working life, single women, students who can be seen queuing for food banks… Conversely, those over 65 receive a minimum [monthly] payout that is 60% higher than the RSA (a work welfare benefit for those out of work or with a low income) and guaranteed by the state whether or not they have contributed [to the pensions system]. It is a very powerful safety net, which does not exist for those under 25,” he told the outlet.  

Sbaihi said pensions rose faster than wages in 2022 and criticised a system that puts pressure on France’s youth “who are already inheriting a phenomenal public debt, who must settle the issue of global warming [and] who no longer have access to housing” to carry the heavy financial burden of increased contributions.  

Meanwhile, Nicolas Marques, the general director of the Molinari Economic Institute, has said that with “only 1.7 contributors per retiree, compared to four in the 1950s”, it is difficult to balance the books of the pensions system.  

“Working longer appears to be the least painful lever to facilitate the financing of the CNAV (Caisse Nationale d’Assurance Vieillesse), because France has already increased contributions considerably,” he told France 24, adding that the state pension pot has been unable to escape a deficit in the system for more than 40 years due to the baby boom phenomenon in the post-WWII era.  


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Photo source: Koshu Kunii for Unsplash

The Monaco Life Ski Report

Following significant snowfall this week, the Monaco Life Ski Report returns in 2023 with updates on the best local resorts and conditions for the coming weekend. 

Isola 2000 – There are currently 37 ski slopes and 14 ski lifts open in Isola 2000.It will be largely cloudy throughout the weekend with spells of sunshine, while there will be highs of 5°C and lows of -4°C. The Col de la Lombarde road is closed until further notice. Over the course of the weekend, there will be a wellbeing festival at the station, and on Saturday, the Grand Prix Prince Albert II (U16/Masters) competition will take place.

Auron – There are currently 37 ski pistes and 17 ski lifts open at the resort. After last weekend’s dump of snow, Sunday anticipates further flurries. There will also be some moderate winds potentially reaching 26km/h on Friday. There will be a culinary festival called “Les Chefs au Sommet” running throughout the weekend. In terms of access, Route de la Bonette, Piste de la Moustière, Piste de Demandols, and Route de la Lombarde are all closed for the winter season.

Valberg – There are 22 ski slopes and 11 ski lifts open. As it is throughout the rest of the region, it will be a largely cloudy weekend with some bright spells. Temperatures will range from 7°C to 2°C.

Limone Piemonte – The Italian resort is reporting 11 open runs and seven ski lifts, with snow levels lighter than in its French neighbours. Conditions are expected to be overcast and mild for the time of year. There will be lows of 2°C and highs of 9°C. Passage through the Roya valley currently isn’t possible due to the collapsed bridge at Tende. The journey from Monaco is currently approximately three hours by car, although the train line is in operation.

Gréolières-les-Neiges – This popular family resort, which lies less than an hour from the coast, is struggling with poor snowfall due to its location at a lower altitude than other south of France ski stations. Nevertheless, two lifts are up and running –Bambi and Ecurueils – and three pistes are open to skiers.

Val d’Allos – Better news is to be had over in this Alpes-de-Haute-Provence ski area. Snowfall was heavy last weekend and cold temperatures have prevailed in recent days, allowing for great conditions. The resort, which combines Allos, Seigneus and La Foux d’Allos, is running at almost complete capacity, with 24 out of its 27 lifts in operation and 55 out of 64 pistes welcoming skiers, snowboarders and the rest. There is a full programme of events on over the coming weekend in each of the three locations, from children’s activity to Big Air Bag installations for the more daring snowbunnies.

Chamonix – Deeper into the Alps and a five-and-a-half-hour drive to the north of Monaco, the resort of Chamonix has 73 pistes and 47 ski lifts are currently in operation.

Note: Snow tyres or other suitable equipment must be used on the roads up to the ski resorts.


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Photo by Monaco Life

Rise in ocean temperature levels causing dire consequences

In 2022, ocean temperatures around the world were the warmest ever recorded, according to the latest studies by an international team of scientists, a trend that will have serious repercussions on the planet. 

The case for the effects of climate change grows stronger with each passing year. Greenhouse gas emissions caused by human activities are altering the very patterns that the world’s population counts on to keep us going, yet little is being done to reverse the damage being inflicted. Such is the case with the oceans.   

Sea surface temperatures have a huge impact on the world’s weather, and the warmer the oceans, the stronger the storms are. Hurricanes, typhoons and other major storms are becoming more frequent, leading to flooding and unusual rain patterns that threaten coastal cities and contribute to rising sea levels.  

A team of ocean scientists have collected global data and found that last year saw the hottest sea temperatures recorded since the start of record-taking in 1958, an event that they believe is leading us toward a dire outcome.  

“The Earth’s energy and water cycles have been profoundly altered due to the emission of greenhouse gases by human activities, driving pervasive changes in Earth’s climate system,” an excerpt from the study revealed.   

The data also showed that La Niña made her presence known for the third year running. La Niña is the name of the climate pattern that describes the cooling of surface-ocean waters along the tropical west coast of South America. La Niña is the counterpart to El Niño, which is characterised by unusually warm ocean temperatures in the equatorial region of the Pacific Ocean. When that returns, the sea temperatures will be pushed even higher.   

“If you want to measure global warming, you want to measure where the warming goes, and over 90% goes into the oceans,” Professor John Abraham from the University of St Thomas in Minnesota, who was a member of the study’s team, said. “Measuring the oceans is the most accurate way of determining how out of balance our planet is. We are getting more extreme weather because of the warming oceans and that has tremendous consequences all around the world.”  

Professor Michael Mann from the University of Pennsylvania, also part of the team, added that, “Warmer oceans mean there is more potential for bigger precipitation events, like we’ve seen this past year in Europe, Australia, and currently on the west coast of the US.”  

2022 is also expected to be the fourth or fifth hottest year on record for air temperatures; signs that all is not well on the planet.   


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Photo source: Johannes Plenio for Unsplash

Monaco’s biggest events centre looks ahead to 2023

In revealing the results of a year still marked by Covid, the Grimaldi Forum’s General Director Sylvie Biancheri has presented an exciting schedule of events for Monaco’s largest culture and congress centre in 2023.

In front of 500 guests gathered for the annual Galette des Rois celebration in the entrance hall of the Grimaldi Forum Monaco on Tuesday evening, General Director Sylvie Biancheri presented the results of a “good, but not great” 2022 year, which was still notably impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The culture and congress centre hosted more than 100 events, compared to 82 in 2021, and noted the return of international clients and visitors. Some of its best performing events were Luxe Pack, which drew 9,500 visitors, an increase of 9% on the exceptional year of 2019, while Les Assises saw 3,000 participants and 9,400 B2B meetings.

According to Grimaldi Forum Chairman Henri Fissore, “2022 was overall very satisfactory and 2023 looks to be heading in the same direction, although we are never safe from a relapse,” he cautioned.

To return to the GF’s most successful years of 2018-2019, the Grimaldi Forum is aiming to reach 120 events this year. “We are not sure we will get there, but we’re working hard on it,” said Sylvie Biancheri. “Remote conferences will never replace face-to-face events.”

The main congresses this year include MAGIC in February, the Salon du Livre in April, Top Marques in June and the Festival de Television de Monte-Carlo also in June.

Humour features heavily on the GF’s 2023 schedule, with many French comedians taking to the stage, including Paul Mirabel who is first up this week with his sold-out performance. Others include Olivier de Benoist, Jérémy Ferrari, Baptiste Lecaplain, and Roman Frayssinet.

Thursday Live Sessions will continue with live music performances as well as a show by French singer Véronique Poupaud.

But the highlight of the year is the summer exhibition, which in 2023 is titled ‘Monet: In Full Light’. After the very unique Christian Louboutin: L’exhibition(iste) in 2022 featuring the extraordinary designs and wild imagination of the famous shoe designer Christian Louboutin, ‘Monet: In Full Light’ marks a return to the Masters for the Grimaldi Forum.

In looking ahead at the exciting expansion of the Grimaldi Forum as part of the new Maraterra district, Sylvie Biancheri also revealed that the marketing of the Grimaldi Forum’s new spaces has begun, for events to commence in 2025. The extpansion, mostly underground, is part of the new Mareterra district under development and will add an extra 50% exhibition space, equivalent to 6,000 sqm, which guests on Tuesday evening were able to experience in 3D.

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Photo credit: C Vinaj for the Grimaldi Forum


310 homes to hit the rental market, easing Monaco’s housing shortage

A record 310 new properties will become available this month, with Monaco working hard to fulfil a mandate set out in 2019 by Prince Albert II to provide 1,500 new homes by the mid-2030s.  

Ahead of Monaco’s elections on 5th February, National Council President Brigitte Boccone-Pagès and her Union List party are doling out good news to the populace to try and secure their continued place on the national stage.   

To do so, they have been holding a series of meetings with Monegasques to listen and to refine their agenda, as well as to speak about the accomplishments being made under this regime. On Monday, Boccone-Pagès was able to announce one such success, notably the allocation of 310 new state housing flats that will be ready to rent out by the end of the month.  

State housing has been “the priority of priorities” for the National Council’s leadership since the days of former president Stephane Valeri, so this victory is not insignificant.   

Franck Lobono, the president of the Housing Commission and a candidate in the next election, expounded on the situation, saying, “State housing will soon exceed 3,700 apartments [in total], after the deliveries of the Testimonio II tower, the Honoria Palace and the Ida. Our record is historic. At the Commission on 25th January, 310 housing units will be allocated: a record! This mandate will have succeeded in putting an end to the shortage.”  

The option of living in state housing is one of the perks of being Monegasque. The government subsidises up to 50% of rent for citizens and intervenes in other areas when needed. But in recent years, demand has outstripped supply, spurring the government and elected officials to come up with solutions, namely building huge numbers of new flats.  

While this new crop of apartments is welcome news, there are still some worries about delivering what has been promised.  

“The two Bel Air and Les Lierres/Nathalie projects have had a lot of delays,” Lobono explained. “It takes between three and four years to build a building. We can therefore predict that they will not be delivered before 2026. My hopes lie in the idea that the recoveries obtained following the allocations of 2023 and 2024 will make it possible to satisfy part of the future requests in 2025.” 

For now, though, there will be 310 happy families who will soon be in a new place to call home.  


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Photo by Monaco Life