Roca Team prevail in offensive festival against Milan

A defensively porous but offensively spectacular AS Monaco Basketball beat Euroleague’s bottom side Milan (101-88) on Thursday to keep pace with the leaders and bounce back following consecutive European defeats.  

Against his former side, James ran proceedings in the opening phases, registering an unreplied eight-point streak to give Monaco an early lead. Whilst the Roca Team were nearly in full flow offensively, they lacked the same intensity in defence, and couldn’t stop bleeding points, allowing ample room for Milan to cause harm from outside the key, which they duly did. 

Elie Okobo’s playmaking and shooting efficiency kept the scoreboard ticking, as every player that entered onto the court contributed, including debutant Chima Moneke, who took just seconds to make his mark with a T2 while attracting the foul. 

By half-time, both sides had pierced the 50-point mark, and a mammoth scoreline was set to be recorded. Attacks continued to reign in the second-half, with Milan quickly erasing Monaco’s seven-point half-time lead, restoring parity midway through the third quarter (70-70). 

However, the Roca Team then hit the accelerator once more. James kicked things off with a T3, which lifted the crowd. Donta Hall and Okobo, who was impressive throughout, then combined; the former finishing with one of his signature dunks. Alpha Diallo then hit on the break to begin to take the game away from the Italian side (80-72). 

Photo by Monaco Life

The American then struck early in the final quarter with another T3 to deflate a Milan side that were starting to feel their way back into the game. The Roca Team finally found their defensive bite in the final quarter and began to make the decisive break, Jordan Loyd registering a T3 that killed the game as a contest (90-78). 

As both sides tired, the efficiency and intensity notably dropped, and whilst the Roca Team didn’t make the 114-points that they were on course to reach at half-time, they did nonetheless breach the 100-point mark. Against the Euroleague’s bottom side, Sasa Obradovic’s men were run closer than perhaps they expected, but the result was ultimately secured (101-88). 

Post-match Sasa Obradovic said that he was happy to have provided a spectacle for the fans.

“Everyone who came here enjoyed the basketball, this is what they wanted to see,” he told Monaco Life, continuing, “Everyone contributed. I’m satisfied with all the players that played. It was a collective win. Milan haven’t played well recently, but that wasn’t the case tonight. They scored lots of hard shots, but we found a way to control the game, especially in the fourth quarter. It is always good to protect the home court.”


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Main photo by AS Monaco Basket

List of French strikers grows as port and power workers called to picket

The CGT trade union and Sud Rail are the latest to call on their workers to take to the streets next week for the nationwide strikes against pension reforms. 

Those participating in the planned strikes set for 31st January and spilling into 1st February is growing. CGT, the union covering port, power, refinery and petrol distribution workers, has joined the roster as have Sud Rail, a railway workers union.  

The inclusion of these two powerful unions could see the country grind to a halt next Tuesday and Wednesday, with possible strike actions continuing into next month.  

“Our federations are asking railway workers to strike en masse on 31st January, and to hold a meeting on 31st January to decide whether to intensify their action through two consecutive days of strikes on 7th and 8th February,” the two unions said in a joint statement.  

The potential disruptions caused by striking fuel distributors has people racing to the pumps, reminiscent of last October when protests prompted petrol shortages and cuts all over France.  

Authorities are asking people not to worry as the short duration is unlikely to cause the same kind of widespread disruption as last autumn, but they do warn electricity production may suffer intermittently. 

CGT says an oil distribution depot in northern France is already shut down, with 80% of workers ready to march. According to trade union sources, oil imports are being obstructed in some French ports.  

The port strikes are scheduled to last 24 hours.  

In addition to the sectors named above, schools, transport and civil service operations are also thought to be involved, with the result being an almost total shut down of normal life.  

The pension reform legislation, which will be presented to parliament on Monday, includes passages that would end special pension rights of certain workers, including those in the electricity generation field. Other points of contention include raising the retirement age from 62 to 64 by 2030.  



Get ready: French unions plan widespread protests over pension reform

Further pension reform strikes planned for 31st January


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Photo source: Unsplash

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