“To Catch a Thief” villa sells for full asking price

catch a thief villa

One month is all it took to find a buyer for the €3.6 million villa that was once the set of Alfred Hitchcock’s “To Catch a Thief”, starring Grace Kelly and Cary Grant.  

Back in March of this year, Monaco Life reported on the listing of the one-time Hollywood film set. 

Advertised and now sold for €3.6 million by Côte d’Azur Sotheby’s International Realty, the property will have been a real coup de coeur purchase or investment for the unnnamed buyer, who is adding a slice of local history to their portfolio with Villa Les Bolovens, its official name.  

As well as providing the backdrop to one of the most iconic scenes in the 1950s “To Catch a Thief”, the 5,000m2 hillside plot boasts stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea, Nice and the Baou de Saint Jeannet.  

Landscaped gardens and a swimming pool complete a seven-bedroom villa, which has been respectfully maintained in the style many will recognise from the famous film.  

“To Catch a Thief” won an Oscar for Best Cinematography in 1956 and was also nominated for Best Set in a nod to the beauty of the location chosen for the film.    

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Photos: “To Catch a Thief” villa goes up for sale for €3.6 million


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Photo courtesy of Côte d’Azur Sotheby’s International Realty

Formula 1: First podium of the season for Charles Leclerc

Charles Leclerc Azerbaijan GP

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc secured his first podium of the season at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix on Sunday, finishing behind the untouchable Red Bulls, with Sergio Perez taking the chequered flag. 

The streets of Baku hosted the first Sprint Race of the weekend on Saturday. That meant two qualifying sessions, both of which were won by Leclerc, who over one lap is unpeered around the tight streets of the Azerbaijani Capital.

However, over the course of the race, there is no resisting the speed of the Red Bulls who dispatched the Monégasque with relative ease in Saturday’s sprint race, as well as Sunday’s main event.

Leclerc finished second in Saturday’s revamped sprint, which no longer has any bearing on Sunday’s grid. Perez took the chequered flag, but Verstappen was unable to catch Leclerc in second, having sustained damage on the opening lap.

Both Red Bulls would get the better of the Monégasque on Sunday. Despite holding the lead into the first corner, Leclerc was quickly down in third.

Sergio Perez uncatchable

A timely safety car worked to the detriment of championship leader Verstappen, who ceded his place to Leclerc in the pitstop phase. But the tactical hiccup was inconsequential with Verstappen retaking second position.

Leclerc went on to lead a lonely race. No one could catch him, but nor could he catch the runaway Red Bulls. Verstappen attempted to catch his teammate, but the Mexcian maintained his slender advantage, preventing the Dutchman from getting within DRS range.

Perez, therefore, gets within six points of Verstappen at the top of the championship standings, whilst Leclerc rises to sixth, level on points with George Russell.

Leclerc can certainly take positives, notably the Ferrari’s pace over one lap, but the Red Bull is unrivalled. “The Red Bulls were once again in another world,” said Leclerc.

“It was impossible for me to keep up with them in the race; we don’t have the same rhythm. The feeling is better, but when I see the gap to them, I tell myself that there is still a lot of work ahead of us,” added the Monégasque.

Red Bull have won all four of this season’s races (two Perez wins, two Verstappen wins), but Leclerc can be comforted with his first podium. Ferrari will be hoping to further close the gap to the Red Bull at next weekend’s Miami Grand Prix.


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Photo from Scuderia Ferrari Press Centre


Cercle Brugge’s Carlos Aviña: “We have a clear synergy and strategy with Monaco”

AS Monaco v Cercle Brugge friendly

Cercle Brugge are preparing for the European playoffs, but it wasn’t so long ago that they were mired in the depths of the Belgian second division. Monaco Life spoke with the club’s Sporting Director Carlos Aviña to trace the club’s recent rise, which is in no small part linked to their integration into the AS Monaco family.

In the winter of 2017, Dmitry Rybolovlev, the owner of AS Monaco, purchased a Cercle side that are languishing in the depths of the Belgian second division. Six years later, the club are about to compete in the playoffs with a shot at featuring in Europe next year. “We remember where we came from. We were a club that was struggling in the second division,” Aviña recalls to Monaco Life. 

Incidentally, it was a goal from a Monaco loanee, Irvin Cardona, that earned Cercle promotion back into the Belgian first division, and the club’s subsequent consolidation of their position in the top flight, as well as their steady rise into the upper echelons of the domestic game, have been punctuated and defined by their collaboration with Les Monégasques. 

“An aspirational relationship.”

Players such as Boris Popović and Edgaras Utkus are examples of players that have become mainstays of the first-team, creating a foundation from which to construct their success, whilst players such as Radoslaw Majecki and Harrison Marcelin have made valuable contributions on loan from the Principality club. These experiences are equally as valuable to Monaco, who upon the return of their loanees will inherit a player that has accrued considerable and valuable experiences in a foreign division.

“There is a strong collaboration in terms of developing players. It goes both ways. From Cercle Brugge we have Thomas Didillon, then Jesper (Daland) going to train at the Monaco training camp. Here we have Radoslaw Majecki and Boris Popovic, two strong players here at Cercle Brugge right now, and playing basically every minute,” says Aviña. 

The “collaboration” isn’t unidirectional, although Aviña does refer to an “aspirational relationship” with Monaco.

Photo of Carlos Aviña by Cercle Brugge

“There is a clear ambition. Anyone who is recruited to come to Cercle, be it a player or a member of staff, they always have the ambition to go to Monaco one day, having come in and succeeded at Cercle. It is an aspirational relationship. Monaco is one of the biggest landmarks in European football. That’s the way we’re seeing it from Cercle’s perspective: we have the support of such a big club, let’s use it to our advantage, let’s create competitive advantages that can lead us to win games on the pitch,” said the Mexican Sporting Director. 

The exchange of players, either on loan or permanently, is a big part of the collaboration between Monaco and Cercle, but their relationship isn’t limited to just this. “There is a holistic approach towards optimising all of the assets within the club. It’s about exchanging information, it’s about supporting each other and in the end it’s about working on the same wavelength,” said Aviña.

He continued, “There is a strong strategy that goes both ways, which is about developing talent, working with young players, a clear philosophy and playing style as well and I think the way we coach, the way we develop talent, the way we analyse our rivals, the way that we work with our performance and medical department, is the same at both clubs. The aim of the project is to work as one team.”

Further movement between the clubs this summer?

Aviña says that the synergies between the clubs have intensified in recent years, which was the objective upon his arrival, as well as that of his Monaco counterpart Paul Mitchell. The English Sporting Director has previously said that when he arrived, he wanted to “modernise the existing strategy between the clubs, starting by presenting a clear strategy.”

The clarity of the collaboration between the two partnered entities is now bearing fruit, with the club reaching their highest position since the 2011/12 season. They are now knocking on the door of European competition, but according to Aviña, there is no question of Cercle’s relationship with Monaco changing as a result.

I don’t think it will change the dynamic. It’s certainly an opportunity to showcase our talent on a bigger platform, but it’s still too premature to contemplate how this will look,” he said. 

One thing looks certain, players will continue to be exchanged between the clubs. Majecki’s performances in particular attest to the worth of sending players to the Jan Breydel Stadium and will encourage further loan moves. Cercle’s and Monaco’s extensive and coordinated scoring network, which covers “basically everywhere in the world,” has allowed for the recruitment of players like Jesper Daland and Ayase Ueda, who are beginning to display the kind of form that catches the attention of the Monaco hierarchy.

“They’re definitely making a big, big statement with the way that they’re playing in the league. Jesper is proving to be one of the best centre-backs in the league, Ayase being two goals off the top-scorer in his first season in European football is amazing. These kinds of talents are going to be, or are already, a success story for us. They’re definitely ready to make a next step and the market, and AS Monaco’s necessities are going to define if they go there or somewhere else,” said Aviña. 

Whilst Mitchell may be involved in welcoming one, none, or both players to the Principality club in the summer, the time spent with them will be limited. The English Sporting Director is on the search for his successor, and once that task is complete, he will then accompany his replacement in their first steps at the club before departing.

It will be another Sporting Director on the receiving end of Aviña’s daily calls, but the project itself will remains unchanged. “Paul has been a massive, massive, massive contributor to the success at Cercle Brugge. I don’t think people realise how important his role has been in terms of supporting the club. I think one of the main things he has made sure of is that there is always continuity and a strong project that stands regardless of the personnel, be that players, coaches, or management. We’re in such a strong position from a group perspective that there will always be continuity,” said Aviña. 

Under the duo’s stewardship, Cercle have made great strides, and whilst change is on the way, there is no reason why the Belgian club, working in tandem with Monaco, can’t continue their upward trajectory in the weeks, months and years to come.


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Photo by AS Monaco

More officers to be sent to Alpes-Maritimes border to stem illegal crossings

alpes-maritimes immigration

More than 1,200 migrants have entered the Alpes-Maritimes since the start of 2023. To help better manage the situation, the French prime minister is sending 150 extra officers to assist at the Italian border. 

France’s prime minister, Elisabeth Borne, announced on 26th April that she will be sending an additional 150 police and gendarme officers, starting next week, to help with “increased migratory pressure at the Italian border”.  

So far this year, the Alpes-Maritimes has seen 1,202 migrants cross the border from Italy, with 110 new arrivals coming in just a single week. The situation is such that a gymnasium in Menton has had to be requisitioned to house the people hoping to come and stay, and the Alpes-Maritimes Departmental Council has said that reception systems for minor migrants are a “saturation” levels.  

This comes as the prime minister has postponed a new immigration law, which would have sped up the expulsion of illegal migrants while easing residency applications for those who work in sectors needing labour, saying that it will not pass for lack of support from the French legislature. She is hoping to revisit it again in autumn, but is reluctant to press for another divisive bill right now whilst the pension reform war still wages on.  

“Now is not the time to start a debate over a bill that could divide the French,” Borne said at a news conference. 


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Photo source: Diane Picchiottino on Unsplash

Elsa at Monte-Carlo Beach reopens with even more emphasis on local produce

The sun-filled terraces of the Monte-Carlo Beach Hotel are once again open for the delectable restaurant Elsa, headed by chef Mélanie Serre, who has this year cast her local produce net even further.

Chef Mélanie Serre made her mark on the gastronomic scene of Monaco in 2022. Backed by years of experience at some of France and Monaco’s most awarded restaurants, she took over the kitchen of seasonal restaurant Elsa, and with it the responsibility of upholding an organic menu.

As she explained to Monaco Life in 2022, it was a challenge to source all of the specialty ingredients for her menu. So, it is not surprising to learn that this year the 37-year-old chef from Ardèche, southeast France, has widened her scope to reach even more local, organic flavours.

Chef Melanie Serre, photo source: Monte-Carlo SBM

Mélanie Serre, winner of the 2023 Ethical Environmental Responsibility Prize, and her team are now working with a wider range of producers in the surrounding region for fruits, vegetables, olive oils, fish, meats, and wines.

Domaine d’Agerbol in the heights of Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, for example, provides fresh, organic vegetables, less than a kilometre from farm to plate. The Jardin des Antipodes in Menton has sun-kissed herbs and fruits, while Domaine Oléicole Lessatini, a family business of four generations in the hills of Nice, supplies local wines.

Monegasque fisherman Eric Rinaldi and the Verinni fishery ensure that the day’s catch is as fresh as possible thanks to the hardworking fishermen off the coast of Imperia.

It is a sustainable approach that not only benefits clients, but supports the local ecosystem, creates jobs and energises the social fabric.


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Delicious, healthy, seasonal cuisine

This April, guests will find amongst the menu langoustine tartare served with Osciètre caviar, fresh cucumber juice and Granny Smith apple; pan-fried foie gras escalope, confit beef cheek ravioli, mushrooms and clarified broth with fresh herbs; roasted saddle of lamb, harissa tomato sauce, young spring vegetables and panisses with black olives; and pickled cucumber, honey and lemon mousse, served over roasted rice.

The daily specials are dependent on the products available, ensuring the ingredients are eaten at their prime.

Elsa is open now from Wednesday to Sunday for lunch and dinner. The Market menu for weekday lunch is 72€, and 92€ on weekends and public holidays. A Degustation menu for dinner is 142€. In July and August, the restaurant is only open for dinner.

Monte-Carlo Beach – Restaurant La Vigie, photo courtesy Monte-Carlo SBM

A luxury resort nestled in nature

Monte-Carlo Beach is an oasis on the edge of a bustling, busy Principality of Monaco. Set against a pine forest bird reserve and in a totally private peninsula, it offers guests a chic and intimate setting, as close as possible to nature in this part of the world, with peaceful views of the Mediterranean Sea and an exclusive private beach.

It is a little piece of paradise that Monte-Carlo SBM is this year making even more alluring.

In addition to Elsa restaurant, the hotel features the Pointe de la Vigie where, from 2nd June, a private club will come alive from midday to 8pm, reviving a vision from the past. It has been the best-kept secret of Monte-Carlo Beach since 1952, with bungalows nestled in the pine forest, renamed this year as “Love Nests” for more intimate moments with lovers or friends. Access is possible by boat and a shuttle will make it easy to reach the new Maona Monte-Carlo to continue the evening under the stars.

Maona is set to open in July, image courtesy Monte-Carlo SBM

Maona is currently under construction at the same site it existed in the 1960s and 1970s. When it opens in July, guests will be able to enjoy a cabaret under the stars, invoking the glamour of the times: the original created by Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis and his long-time mistress Maria Callas, its name a coming together of the two famous residents of Monaco.

Vintage-inspired cocktails will flow from 7pm to 2am with a pianist, DJ and diva taking turns to amuse guests.

Soon, there will be little reason to leave this secluded wonderland at any hour of the day.


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Feature photo: Chef Mélanie Serre, courtesy Monte-Carlo SBM



Pet owners beware: the spiky seeds that can hurt pets are out earlier than normal

spiky seeds pets

Spiky seed pods, called épillets locally, are out a full month earlier than usual, and with them comes the danger of these sea urchin-like seeds becoming painfully lodged in the ears and noses of our furry friends.  

Usually seen from June onwards, the warmer and drier conditions in the south of France have, this year, led to an early emergence of these spiky seeds.  

The spikes of the épillet attach themselves to anything that passes by them and act like a creeping harpoon that embeds itself to the host. As the host moves, they tend to move forward in one direction, usually toward the skin, where they can become serious irritants.  

Humans can simply remove them from socks or clothing and be done with them, but with pets, they often find their way into noses or ears, where they become trapped and dig deeper into the orifices, becoming incredibly painful and sometimes requiring the assistance of a vet to dislodge them. This often requires putting the animal under anaesthesia, a dangerous and expensive thing to do in itself.  


The best way to avoid these pesky pods is to cut them down before they have a chance to form. Whilst this is possible at one’s own home, it is another story in the great outdoors. This means that preparing pets is the best way to go.  

Vets recommend shaving the fur in the interior of the ear or giving them a thick coating of Vaseline to stop the épillets from having anything to hold onto as a good start. Even with these precautions, it is advised to check after every walk, not just ears and noses, but the fur as well, with a focus on paws. This treatment goes for cats as well as dogs.  

For people with long-eared pets, “snoods” can be wrapped around the dog’s head to prevent the pods’ entry. This may not help the dog win any beauty contests, but it could stop the need for an emergency visit to the vet. 

Signs that the animal has picked up an épillet in a sensitive region will include violent head shaking and scratching at the ears, nose or even eyes. The animal may also become agitated, so look for behavioural changes. If a lodged épillet is suspected, take the animal directly to the vet and get it taken care of.  

The best prevention is vigilance, but if it does happen, be proactive. Trained vets know what to do, and the sooner the offending pod is removed, the sooner Fido or Spot will be back to their normal happy selves.  


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Photo source: Pixabay