La Réserve, a butcher selling the “World’s Best Steak”, opens in Monaco’s La Condamine market

australian wagyu la réserve butcher boucherie monaco

A  new butcher with a refreshingly international range and devotion to the best animal husbandry and sustainable practices has opened in the Condamine market of Monaco. The La Réserve team meets with Monaco Life to explain all.   

The La Réserve butcher’s shop, which recently opened at Cabine 40 in the Marché de la Condamine, styles itself as an outward-looking and sustainability-focused butcher. It also counts not just one, but several of the world’s “Best Steak” amongst its display.  

The new venture from co-owners Vincent Lelasseux, Andrew Benjamin and Christopher Brown, who hail from Monaco, England and Belgium respectively, unites their joint experiences of more than a decade catering to the finest chefs of the global superyacht industry. This, combined with personal taste, explains the reasoning for La Réserve’s international range.  

Purveyors of the “World’s Best Steak” 

“It’s fantastic to be able to bring such an international selection of meat to the region,” says Andrew Benjamin. “The grass-fed Finnish beef is what I’m most proud of: these cattle graze near a chocolate factory and actually eat a portion of chocolate every day. The meat is that little bit darker and a little bit sweeter for it. The prime cut was a three-time winner in the World Steak Challenge. Another of my favourite products is the Finnish Ayrshire cattle: unbelievable flavour. That won ‘Best Grass-Fed Steak in the World’ for two years running too.” 

Wagyu, a specialist beef lauded by chefs around the world, is well-represented, with Australian Jack’s Creek Wagyu from New South Wales – a winner of ‘Best Ribeye Steak in the World’ – and Blackmore Wagyu from Victoria. The team has been sourcing a range of Japanese Wagyu and Kobe beef for yacht clients for several years and will be bringing this range to the Condamine market as well.  

La Réserve is also importing organic grass-fed Angus from Ireland along with organic Berkshire pork.  

“It took a while to get past some Brexit hurdles, but we’ve also managed to source award-winning Franconian sausages from Tunbridge Wells in England, my part of the country,” adds Benjamin.  

Keen supporters of organic farming and eco-friendly practices 

The owners are avid supporters of the organic farming movement and were eager to promote this central ethos in the naming of the store. La Réserve evokes the natural fields and pastures upon which the herds of the shop’s range graze.  

“Sustainability is very important to us, as it is to Monaco, and we’ve searched high and low for the best eco-friendly packaging in Europe,” says Brown. “We wanted to find a way to use biodegradable packaging and we’ve found the perfect solution with our Space Tec vacuum-packs. The meats are preserved in peak freshness and the packs can also be kept safely in the freezer for as long as two years in the right conditions.” 

The owners have run their superyacht provisioning business from Monaco since 2016, but decided to set up a physical shop in the Principality when the perfect space in the Condamine came onto the market. 

Along with its ideal location, just a few minutes’ walk from Port Hercule, having a shop in the Condamine comes with other benefits.  

Le Marché de la Condamine: “A lively place to work and visit” 

“One of the most attractive propositions to set up shop here is the delivery service run by the market. We pay a fee and our customers can get free delivery throughout Monaco. You can do all your shopping in one place and have it delivered right to your door. We’re in talks to sign up to a similar service that will be available to people as far afield as Cannes and Mandelieu,” Brown explains.

“The market is such a lively place to work and visit too,” adds Benjamin. “I’ve been coming often over the last few years to eat here with my family, and we’re all excited about the opportunity to spend more time in the market. The events put on by the town hall are fantastic and I’d love the chance to get involved in the future.” 

The shop, which is fronted by local Frenchman Taoufik Annani, is open Tuesday to Saturday from 8am to 2pm.


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Photos by Kiri Huhtanen  


Safety Gate: chemical substances top annual list of health hazards for non-food products

The EU’s dangerous non-foods watchdog Safety Gate has found that cars, cosmetics and toys were the most reported products to pose potential health risks due to their concentration of chemical substances.  

On 13th March, the European Commission published its annual report on the Safety Gate, the European Rapid Alert System for dangerous non-food products. The report covers alerts notified during 2022, and the responses given by national authorities.

The most common products clocked by Safety Gate were toys, followed by motor vehicles, cosmetics, clothing, and electrical appliances. Last year, cosmetic products had a significantly higher number of alerts due to the use of recently banned chemical substances in perfumes and creams. Though this accounts for some of the alerts, risks were also found in a wider range of items. Certain toys had an “excessive concentration” of phthalates, which can cause reproductive system problems.

Whilst risks from chemical substances reigned supreme in 2022, there were also a high number of instances of products that could cause injury or choking.

The 30 nations of Safety Gate, including EU member states, were faced with 2,117 alerts and followed up with actions 3,932 times. Market surveillance authorities checked on these alerts, and 84% of the actions included additional measures being put in place, including recalls on potentially dangerous products.


A 2021 proposal to update regulations on product safety will soon replace the older version, modernising the basic structure for non-food consumer products. The new document will cover the challenges posed by the advent and rise of online sales and new technologies to provide a stronger safety net for the public.

Additionally, companies such as AliExpress, Amazon, eBay, Rakuten France, Allegro, Etsy,, eMAG,, Cdiscount and Joom are already part of an agreement called the Product Safety Pledge to remove unsafe items from their platforms.

This, they hope, will ensure only safe products are sold in the EU and will improve product safety regulations, make recalls faster and easier and streamline surveillance efforts.


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Photo: Illustration picture of the laboratory for health and safety where the toys are tested when suspected not to be to the European standards. Source: European Commission


F1 driver Thierry Boutsen appointed Circle of Friends President for the Prince’s Car Collection

thierry boutsen

Thierry Boutsen, the former F1 driver, has been named the new president of the Circle of Friends of the Car Collection of H.S.H. the Prince of Monaco, which offers high-end exhibitions and events linked to the association.  

The club name is definitely a mouthful, but the sentiment is pure inclusion, especially for those who share a passion for automobiles.  

The Circle of Friends of the Car Collection of H.S.H. the Prince of Monaco was born out of a desire to highlight this extraordinary assortment of cars in Monaco, which range from the vintage to the super-luxe. The club is open to all and the requests to join are trickling in at a steady pace.  

When asked how Boutsen, who is now the owner of Boutsen Aviation, a company that buys and sells private jets for business, became involved, he told the local press, “I was contacted by Salim Zeghdar first, then Christophe Villa and Jean-Pierre Campana, to see if I was interested in taking the presidency of this association. It is a very great honour that allows me to dive back into what I have experienced in the past. A truly extraordinary project. I had to have them repeat the request twice because I couldn’t believe my ears.” 

Plans for future events and exhibitions in the works

The club’s recent creation is partly due to the new home of the collection on Port Hercule. The modern space gives them the ability to hold events and exhibitions, and to be able to accommodate more people year-round.  

The association will be working in conjunction with Collections Director Valérie Closier to come up with “unique and very representative events, not specifically related to the Grand Prix, the Historic or the E-Prix, but which highlight the museum on its own”, as explained by Boutsen.  

The proof that the right man for the job was selected lies in Boutsen’s enthusiasm for the collection and his diplomatic answer when asked if he favours any cars over the others.  

His candid reply: “There are two cars from the Porsche Collection [currently on loan to the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart] that I have driven in competition, the 962 and GT1, which gave me a lot of pleasure. But I put them all on an equal footing in fact because they make me dream.” 

For more information about the collection and how to see if for yourself, please click here


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Photo courtesy of the Palais Princier de Monaco

Tennis: Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal headline Monte-Carlo Masters line-up

Nadal Monte-Carlo Masters

Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and reigning champion Stefanos Tsitsipas have all been confirmed for next month’s Monte-Carlo Masters.

The new director of the Monte-Carlo Masters, David Massey, revealed in February that he expected the greats of the game to grace the iconic clay courts of the Monte-Carlo Country Club (MCCC) in April. The full list of participants has now been revealed.

The return of the king of clay – fitness permitting

Despite Massey confirming in February that Nadal had signed up for the tournament, there were doubts about the Spaniard’s fitness. Those doubts still persist, but Nadal, who is currently nursing the injury in Mallorca, is fighting to compete and win his 13th Monte-Carlo Masters title.

On the full list of participants in the ATP Masters 1000 tournament, Nadal’s name features, but his presence is caveated. In order to compete, he will need a mandatory physical and competition clearance form.

Photo by Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters

As well as compatriot Carlos Alcaraz, Monaco-resident Djokovic arguably represents Nadal’s main rival for the title. The Serbian will be well rested after being denied entry for the Indian Wells tournament in the United States this month and will be hoping to improve on last year’s showing at the MCCC, when he was dumped out of the competition in the first round against Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.

Fokina ultimately went all the way to the final last year. However, he came up against Stefanos Tsitsipas, who was relentless in his pursuit of retaining his title. The Greek player will be looking to make it three-in-a-row next month.

Massey revealed that Gaël Monfils wished to be included as a wild card, and the Frenchman does currently feature on the list, presented during a press conference in Paris on Tuesday. Alongside Richard Gasquet and Benjamin Bonzi, Monfils is one of three Frenchman set to compete, and he has used his entry protection to make the cut.

A chance for Andy Murray or Stan Wawrinka?

Whilst almost all of the spots have been attributed, four invitations will be sent just days before the beginning of the event on Saturday 8th April. Former winners Stan Wawrinka and Fabio Fognini will be amongst the favourites to receive an invitation to the MCCC, as will British Grand Slam winner Andy Murray.

“I can’t give the names at the moment. Once again, it’s very difficult to decide,” said Massey on Tuesday.

Photo of David Massey and Mlle Mélanie-Antoinette de Massy by Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters

As well as the main draw and the invitations, which are yet to be decided, there will also be a qualification round, with players such as Monaco’s Lucas Catarina hoping to earn their place.

With all of the world’s Top 20, and many within the Top 45 set to compete, the 126th edition of the Monte-Carlo Masters, branded as “an ode to the Riviera,” looks set to be a classic.


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Photo by Yann Caradec

Photos: Prince Albert of Monaco celebrates 65th birthday

prince albert monaco 65 birthday

Monaco’s Prince Albert II turned 65 on 14th March and was treated to a heart-warming rendition of Happy Birthday by the Carabinieri Orchestra as he looked on from the balcony with his family.  

Prince Albert II was not too fussed about turning 65. In an interview with People, the Prince downplayed the significance of the day, calling it “just another day”.  

But those around him were keener to make a big deal out of this special date, and had a packed schedule planned for him, which included a few surprises along the way.  

A day shared with family 

At 11.55am, the changing of the Palace Guard was taking place as usual, when Prince Albert, alongside his eight-year-old twins Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriella, appeared at a window to the delight of the tourists watching the event.  

At the end of the ceremony, the Carabinieri Orchestra struck up a rendition of Happy Birthday, which brought a smile to the Prince’s face as he waved to the assembled crowd.  

Afterwards, the family had lunch together and the children returned to school, but not before alerting their father he was to be prepared for another surprise at 5.30pm sharp.   

“It’s a secret. The kids want to kidnap me,” Prince Albert told local press with a smile. “They want to take me to a play at a theatre, but actually, I’ve been warned I’m going to be kidnapped.” 

In the interim, Prince Albert headed to a Saint Patrick’s Day concert with award-winning Irish musician Fintan Vallely that had been organised by the Princess Grace Irish Library.  

“65 is the new 45!” 

Though 65 is significant for many, Prince Albert isn’t like everyone else. With retirement on the minds of many at this age, that clearly isn’t on the cards for him as the sovereign of a nation.  

“It’s only really important in that I see friends, who are the same age, retiring now. I can’t do that,” he said. “I mean, 65 is important, but it isn’t. I prefer decimals, so 60 was important, 70 will be important. And hopefully, I’ll reach 80 and 90 and beyond. 65 has some resonance, I suppose, but for me, it’s just another birthday. It’s not a milestone. I’ve said before that 60 was the new 40. And so it continues incrementally — 65 is the new 45!” 


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All photos courtesy of the Palais Princier de Monaco


Basketball: Mike James suspended by Roca Team

AS Monaco Basketball’s star player, Mike James, has been suspended by the club after the American point guard “broke internal rules”.

The news was announced in a short press release from the club late on Tuesday and didn’t divulge the nature of the rule break nor his duration of absence from the Roca Team.

James, who arrived at the start of last season, has been absent from the club’s last two games, both of which Monaco have won, with a sprained index finger. Prior to that, there had been signs of tension between the player and coach Sasa Obradovic.

The pair had a very public disagreement during the Roca Team’s defeat against Barcelona in the Euroleague in late February. James was seen arguing with the Serbian coach with the game still in progress and then threw the ball into the advertising hoardings out of frustration.

“Mike is still the biggest talent in this team.”

Despite a complete squad overhaul in the summer, which notably saw the arrivals of Elie Okobo and Jordan Loyd, James remains the man with the keys to the Monégasque project, despite a cold relationship with head coach Obradovic.

“We don’t have to like each other to advance together. We have the same objective. Mike is still the biggest talent in this team,” said Obradovic not long after his arrival at the Salle Gaston Médecin.

He may be the most talented player in the squad, but they’ll now have to live without him, as the team looks to consolidate their Euroleague playoff place without him. Naturally, there are now real doubts regarding the longevity of James’ and Monaco’s collaboration.


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Photo by AS Monaco Basket