Monaco Life’s ‘Best Of’: Top Places to Buy Champagne

With the end of Dry January on the horizon, Monaco Life checks out the best places to buy – and enjoy – champagne in the Principality. 

We start with a boutique beloved by locals for its warmth and amiable owner: the Caves & Gourmandises run by Franco Tibs. Located just a stone’s throw from the port at 25 Boulevard Albert Ier, this wine store sells all the greats of the champagne world – Dom Pérignon, Taittinger, Ruinart, Cristal and Pierre-Jouët to name but a few – alongside some more characterful limited editions, such as its Bollinger La Grande Année 2009 Edition Spéciale “007” and the Noblesse Oblige from Comte de Monte-Carlo.  

Heading west and we come to Dionysos Wines (4 Rue Princesse Caroline), a cave that prides itself on tradition and an intimate level of service. Here you’ll find professionals dedicated not only to a prestigious selection of champagnes and fine wines, but also to sharing their personal knowledge on everything from smart investments to proper wine storage. You can also sample before you purchase in Dionysos’ climate-controlled tasting room. 

A little further down the street is Supernature, a creative restaurant and wine store. Here, the words “organic” and “natural” are the focus, and owner Stephen Roberts has curated an inspired selection of more than 350 vins biologiques – including a range of noteworthy champagnes – from France, Italy and around the world. Born into a vineyard-owning family in Ramatuelle, the Fondugues Pradugues estate, that specialises in organic wine, Roberts is certainly the right person to go to if you’re keen to learn more about the art of natural wine-making. This is also a great place for locally-sourced and seasonable food, with Supernature’s kitchen drawing on the wealth of organic produce sold at the Condamine market just up the road.


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Continuing on to a place that is quite literally the flagship for connoisseurs and lovers of wine in the Principality, thanks to its unique location within the hull of the Yacht Club de Monaco, we come to Wine Palace Monte-Carlo. This address counts more than 2,300 fine wines and, of course, champagnes within its cellar, drawing on “authenticity, rarity and global reputation” as the guides for its selection.  

“The Wine Palace has a superb collection of vintage and non-vintage champagnes, plus a beautiful setting in which to taste them, looking out over the Port of Monaco,” says Jessica Dunnett, the co-owner of Onshore Cellars, a French Riviera-based wine merchant who specialises in international fine wines. “But for me, the crème de la crème has to be the legendary cellars of the Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo. It has the biggest wine cellar in the world – about 35,000 bottles – a large percentage being vintage champagne, including the Moët & Chandon 1923. If you want to try before you buy, I’d recommend booking a table at Alain Ducasse’s three Michelin star Le Louis XV for the best selection from this cellar.” 


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Photo source: Camille Dufosse/Wine Palace

Villefranche launches major underwater clean-up operation

The seafloor of Villefranche bay is to be cleared of rubbish and debris as the coastal town establishes an innovative system of anchorage for the hundreds of yachts that visit each year.  

In summertime, Villefranche’s bay is a mecca for boats of all shapes and sizes. Its 300-metre depth and 2.5-kilometre width make it an ideal stopping off point for sailors looking for a nice place to moor, swim, dive or otherwise enjoy the sea.  

Winter is a bit quieter, but the bay is still buzzing with activity as the third annual tidy-up sponsored by the French State Services Department gets underway. At the same time, the town is embarking on another project, that of reorganising and refurbishing two anchorage and Light Equipment Zones. 

These zones, called ZMEL locally, are permanent anchoring systems affixed to the sea bed, with a chain attached to a buoy and a ring to mark the locations. They are highly regulated and Villefranche has two with 30 floating berths apiece: one in the Marinières sector and the other opposite the Darse. They have been operational since 2022. 

The ZMEL have been a point of contention for some day trippers, who resent having to pay to moor, but the point of them is not to annoy. Instead, it is to prevent passing boaters from randomly dropping anchor onto the bottom of the bay and damaging its fragile ecosystem.  

A quarter of the buoys must be available at all times for passing pleasure boats, and to maintain them properly doesn’t come cheap, with this year’s price tag reaching €140,000. 

“The operation is financed within the framework of the maritime intervention fund managed by the Secretary of State for the Sea,” says Mathieu Eyrard, the deputy director of the Alpes-Maritimes Departmental Directorate of Territories and the Sea (DDTM). “The idea is to continue the clean-up and to support the municipalities in the establishment of mooring and light equipment, but as it is expensive, we spread these operations over several years,”  

To get the necessary upgrades, the sea floor must be cleaned of detritus, including old wrecks, concrete slabs and old bits of chains, motors or plastic hulls which, over time, disintegrate into micro-waste that is toxic to the environment. 

Professional divers have been brought in to help, with 15 boats targeted for now and others’ locations already identified for the future. 


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Photo source: Leighton Smith for Unsplash


“Responsive” and “efficient”: In challenging times, the CHPG has more than risen to the occasion

The CHPG is the jewel in the crown of Monaco’s health services. It has the tech, the investments and the networks, but it also has the respect of its staff and patients after a challenging three years.  

It’s been more than two years since the Centre Hospitalier Princesse Grace (CHPG) held its last annual review. The break was, of course, due to the pandemic and while Monaco is “learning to live with Covid”, the disease still got a mention from the hospital’s director, Benoîte Rousseau de Sevelinges. 

“This crisis revealed to the public what the CHPG is: a responsive, efficient establishment endowed with technological and, above all, human capacities. During these almost three years, the Principality has been able to count on a solid hospital, whose agility has been decisive in maintaining economic and social activities.” 

Rewarding its workers with pay rises and promotions 

Even in Monaco, with all its unique worker benefits, the pandemic was tough on health workers. In a reflection of trends felt across the world’s health institutions, staff left for jobs in different industries and filling their empty posts has been a challenge for the CHPG. The hospital counteracted and, in 2022, increased salaries across the board and took the opportunity of vacant positions to promote loyal staff.  

“From now on, doctors can claim retirement from the age of 60,” added Rousseau de Sevelinges. “Those in nursing professions will be able to continue to choose between retirement from 55 or 60.” 

Both measures were well-received by the hospital’s 250 doctors, 2,660 other medical staff and 105 students.  

Investment in technologies and equipment 

Over the past three years, significant financial input from the Monegasque government as well as generous private donors have allowed the hospital to invest €20 million in state-of-the-art biomedical equipment, such as robotic systems to treat a range of issues from prostate and breast cancers to thyroid, pelvic and spinal problems. The purchase of a second surgical robot has helped position the CHPG as a leader in treating digestive issues as well as making it the largest gynaecological surgery centre in the region.  

Other advancements made possible through donations include the hospital’s new cardiology facility, which is complemented by a partnership with the Scientific Centre of Monaco and its platform for the diagnosis, screening and sequencing of transmissible diseases. 

“The psychiatry department has been partially renovated and will be completely renovated by the initial opening of the Nouvel Hôpital [expected in 2026],” said Rousseau de Sevelinges. “The Covid crisis led us to carry out new modernisation works in the pneumology department, and one summer was enough time to create the Critical Care Surgery Unit, which was a real support during the tensest periods.” 

A private donation of €1.8 million during 2022 allowed the hospital to reorganise its emergency departments, which from spring will see adult and paediatric services grouped together in “more functional” premises.  

Over in the Nouvel Hôpital sector, much of the work at the Princess Grace Pavilion is now complete, offering four floors of renovated spaces.  

“It is now a question of recalibrating and locating the units as we will occupy them in 2026, in view of the evolution of public health needs and developments in medicine,” explained Rousseau de Sevelinges. 

She also touched on the digitalisation efforts of the hospital, particularly its moves towards a 100% electronic patient record system, as well as the investments the CHPG is making to protect itself against potentially damaging cyber attacks.  

Prince Albert II applauds “devotion” and “professionalism” 

In the past 12 months, the CHPG has treated some 82,000 patients – 20,000 of them new to the hospital – and conducted almost 170,000 consultations. There were 45,000 visits to the hospital’s emergency departments. 90% of these patients said they would recommend the CHPG and 94% rated their stay with a score of eight out of 10. 

These figures have impressed Prince Albert II, who was present at the event on Tuesday, likely hours before his own Covid positive result. He heaped praise on the hospital’s staff for their “devotion” and “professionalism” during the health crisis, and was keen to stress the importance of the hospital as a healthcare provider to the international attractiveness of the Principality.  


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Photo source: Stéphane Danna, Monaco Communications Department 

The Monaco Life Ski Report

There has been considerable snowfall this week, including one metre in just 24 hours at Isola 2000, however it isn’t all good news, with the risk of avalanches closing pistes in some resorts. 

After a meagre start to the season, snow is now falling consistently and heavily in many of the region’s resorts. With low temperatures and sunny skies, there will be some optimal conditions this weekend, although at some resorts, the snowfall has caused some disruption.

Isola 2000 – There are currently 36 ski slopes and 13 ski lifts open in Isola 2000. It will be largely cloudy throughout the weekend with spells of sunshine. Temperatures are set to remain low this weekend with highs of 2°C and lows of -11°C. The Col de la Lombarde road is closed until further notice. Visitors can participate in a Street Jazz dance course on Sunday.

Auron – There are currently 39 ski pistes and 17 ski lifts open at the resort. Like in many resorts across the region, heavy snow has fallen over the course of the week, increasing the risk of avalanches, in turn leading to some pistes currently being closed. Consistent with the rest of the region, temperatures are expected to be low, as they were last week. 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 24 ski slopes and 11 ski lifts open. There has also been fresh snowfall in the resort this week, however, unlike elsewhere, this isn’t affecting the opening of pistes. As it is throughout the rest of the region, it will be a largely sunny weekend with some cloudy spells, especially on Friday. Temperatures will range from -3°C to 2°C.

Limone Piemonte – The Italian resort is reporting 22 open runs and 11 ski lifts. Snow levels are improving in the resort. Conditions are expected to be largely overcast with spells of sunshine, and whilst temperatures will drop to lows of  -4°C, it will be slightly milder than the other side of the border.  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, continues to struggle with poor snowfall (around 15cm of hard snow) due to its location at a lower altitude than other south of France ski stations. Nevertheless, four lifts are up and running –Bambi, Ptit Loup, Deux Etoiles and Ecurueils – and three pistes close to the village are open to skiers.

Val d’Allos – Better news is to be had over in this Alpes-de-Haute-Provence ski area, where there is fresh snow to be enjoyed. Snowfall has continued this week in the resort and low temperatures mean great conditions for skiing. The resort, which combines Allos, Seigneus and La Foux d’Allos as well as access to Pra-Loup, is running at almost complete capacity, with 25 out of its 27 lifts in operation and 58 out of 64 pistes welcoming skiers, snowboarders and the rest.

Chamonix – Deeper into the Alps and a five-and-a-half-hour drive to the north of Monaco, the resort of Chamonix has 113 pistes and 48 ski lifts are currently in operation. It will be largely sunny over the weekend, and temperatures won’t go above freezing. On Friday evening, there will be an ice hockey game in the resort, as Chamonix-Mont-Blanc take on Nice in the French Magnus League Championship.

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


Greek New Year tradition celebrated at Monaco Yacht Club

The annual ceremony of cutting the vasilopita – the traditional Greek New Year’s cake – was held last week at the Yacht Club de Monaco with prominent members of the Hellenic Community of Monaco joining in on the celebrations.  

Cutting the vasilopita is an important start of the year in Greece and is done to pay tribute to Saint Basil. Usually cut by the senior member of the family, portions of the vasilopita are distributed amongst the household in a specific way. The first portion is, in more religious families, cut in remembrance of Jesus Christ, and the other portions are cut for the members of the family, including “the house” and “the poor”. A coin is baked into the cake for luck in the year ahead.   

On 22nd January, the Hellenic Community of Greece gathered at the Yacht Club of Monaco to carry out this time-honoured tradition as well as to recap the past year and talk of plans for the future.  

Members, along with their families, listened as the president of the association, Sophia Vaharis Tsouvelekakis, presented her annual report, which included the activities carried out in both the Principality and Greece, followed by the treasurer of the Hellenic Community, Dr. Panagiotis Kyriazis, who presented the financial statement for 2022.  

Also on hand were Ambassador of France to Monaco Laurent Stefanini, Minister of State Pierre Dartout with his wife Helen, Archbishop of Monaco Dominique-Marie David, Metropolitan of France Dimitrios Ploumis, and Honorary General Consul of Greece to Monaco Petros Machas. 

The leader of the Greek Orthodox Church in France, Metropolitan Emmanuel of Chalcedon, was awarded an honorary distinction for his great contribution to Christianity and the people in general. 

Candy sculptures were created for the event by French artist Laurence Jenkell, painted in Greek and Monegasque colours.  

Finally, the lucky coin winner was treated to a weekend at the Vathi Cove resort on the Greek island of Thasos.  


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Photo supplied by the Hellenic Community of Monaco


Dubai Cares partners with COP28 to put education at forefront of climate action

It was during the World Economic Forum in Davos that Dubai Cares signed an historic agreement to put education, and specifically climate education, on the main agenda of this year’s COP28.

The incoming presidency of the 28th Conference of the Parties (COP28) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and Dubai Cares have agreed to partner on a suite of climate education outcomes on the sidelines of COP28, which will take place at Expo City Dubai from 30th November to 12th December 2023.

Dubai Cares will notably host the second edition of the RewirEd Summit, the global education cooperation platform, in conjunction with the global climate summit with a focus on climate action education and approaches this year.

“The theme of the RewirEd summit will be climate and education: green skills and green jobs towards green economies. This will be the first ever COP to have an education day as a main pillar,” Dr. Tariq Al Gurg, Chief Executive Officer and Vice-Chairman of Dubai Cares, told Monaco Life.

Dubai Cares will lead a global preparatory process from now until the summit to mobilise public and private actors around new policy, financing, and technology outcomes that both equip learners for the net-zero economy and enhance accessibility and resilience in the education sector.

“In developing countries, we always look at it through the lens of opportunity for the children and youth who missed out on education or who don’t have any jobs even if they are certified,” added Dr. Al Gurg. “We look out how we can have the best ecosystem built in the context of that country, so we can give the opportunity of training and upskilling to these youth for future jobs.”

Dubai Cares was created in 2007 as part of Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives, and has been working towards providing children and youth in developing countries with access to quality education through the design and funding of programmes that aim to be impactful, sustainable and scalable. To date, the UAE-based global philanthropic organisation has successfully launched education programmes reaching over 21 million beneficiaries in 60 developing countries.

Dubai Cares plans to support the efforts of COP28 by convening climate and education stakeholders from around the world to unify efforts towards a common vision.

“COP28 represents the UAE’s enduring commitment to addressing the climate crisis and accelerating progress towards a better and more secure and prosperous world,” said Dr. Tariq Al Gurg. “As COP28’s education partner, Dubai Cares looks forward to supporting the UAE’s efforts by uniting education and climate actors towards a common vision of unlocking the potential of transformed education systems to not only mitigate climate challenges, but also contribute to national and global aspirations. We are pleased to see that COP28 will be the first COP gathering to prioritise education in climate discussions by placing it at the forefront of its agenda.”

“We are grateful to the COP28 Presidency for believing in our mission and for selecting Dubai Cares to coordinate stakeholders in designing the COP’s education programming.”

Dubai Cares plays a key role in helping to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4, which aims to ensure inclusive and quality education for all, and promote lifelong learning by 2030, by supporting programmes in early childhood development, access to quality primary and secondary education, technical and vocational education and training for youth as well as a particular focus on education in emergencies and protracted crises. Dubai Cares also adopts a strategic approach to improve student enrollment and learning outcomes through an integrated school health and nutrition model that is made up of school-based deworming activities, school feeding, and WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) in schools.

“Climate change is the defining challenge of our era. It is essential for us to empower our youth and society with the knowledge and skills to become changemakers and contribute to meaningful action,” said H.E. Amb. Majid Al Suwaidi, Director General of COP28. “We welcome this partnership with Dubai Cares, to connect with diverse stakeholders, create capacity-building opportunities and mobilise a concerted drive for inclusive climate progress.”

“Green and climate education is what we can include in our curriculums today in schools to instill a mindset in our children of the importance of climate and planet Earth and how we have to take care of it,” said Dr. Al Gurg. “Our generation will not be able to solve these issues, but we can instigate small solutions and prepare the upcoming generation to make the change that needs to happen.”

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“Education has been neglected globally”

Photo: H.E. Amb. Majid Al Suwaidi, Director General of COP28 and Dr. Tariq Al Gurg, Chief Executive Officer and Vice-Chairman of Dubai Cares, source: Dubai Cares