The identity of the three victims involved in an early morning car accident in the Louis II tunnel on Saturday are likely to be confirmed on Wednesday, although some details have been revealed to local media.
It is a tragedy rarely seen in the small Principality of Monaco, three lives dramatically taken during one violent accident in the early hours of Saturday morning.
A car, reported by Monaco Matin to be an Audi Q3, was travelling in the direction of Port Hercule through the Louis II tunnel at 4.16am when it lost control and ploughed into the wall close to the entrance of the Rainier III Auditorium.
The vehicle immediately burst into flames, trapping three victims inside.
According to reports, the blaze was so intense when emergency services arrived that they were unable to evacuate the occupants of the car.
The General Prosecutor’s Office told Monaco Matin that CCTV footage and witness reports have revealed the circumstances behind the accident, however they are yet to release that information publicly. They also revealed that the victims have been identified – all aged in their 30s, one of French nationality, the other two of Swiss nationality. All three lived outside of the Principality, however two worked in Monaco.
The Deputy Attorney General of Monaco Morgan Raymond confirmed to the local daily newspaper that an autopsy on Wednesday will confirm the identity of the victims. But they are yet to determine who the driver of the vehicle was at the time of the horrific incident.
“The condition of the vehicle and the positioning of these occupants when the police and fire departments arrived did not make it possible to define which of the three was the driver,” said Raymond to Monaco Matin.
Photo of the accident scene provided to Monaco Life. The car in the scene has been removed out of sensitivity to the victims’ families.
The Champagne and Oysters CC bike ride to return in aid of Princess Charlene Foundation
The Champagne and Oysters Cycle Club’s fundraising bike ride from St. Tropez to Monaco is scheduled for this April, offering an opportunity for professional and amateur cyclists to pedal for a good cause.
Due to Covid, it’s been four years since the last charity bike ride. This year’s 140km route kicks off on Sunday 23rd April at 8am from St. Tropez, with cyclists estimated to arrive in Monaco at 5pm. The event then wraps up with a fun-filled street party, including food and live music, to celebrate the end of the ride.
The COCC was established in 2011 by seven friends with a passion for cycling. The club has grown over the years, and the annual fundraising bike ride from St. Tropez to Monaco now attracts support from celebrities and international personalities. Past riders have included HSH Prince Albert II, professional cyclists, and Formula One drivers.
Pedal for a cause
The annual bike ride, now in its 9th year, will donate the funds raised to the Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation, an organisation which works to improve water safety for everyone through a range of programmes, including teaching children to swim.
Established in 2012 by Princess Charlene, a former Olympic swimmer, the foundation has helped more than 1,000,000 people through over 510 projects spanning more than 43 countries.
“Anyone who sees what the Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation does should be willing to support,” said COCC co-founder Damian Crean.
Each year, the bike ride raises around 100,000€, and this year the organisers are hoping to raise even more by encouraging Monaco businesses to get behind the cause by either donating directly to the foundation or sponsoring the event.
For businesses wishing to sponsor the COCC Bike Ride there are a variety of options. Riders are welcome to donate as well, with participants required to raise a minimum of 1,000€ in sponsorship. This also covers the riders’ professional kit, mechanical backup, insurance, brunch at the halfway point, water and energy supplies, as well as a contribution to the charity and one ticket for the after-party.
The Monaco et Suisse Investment Forum took on a decidedly international flair this year, inviting exhibitors from around Europe and the Middle East to join its already impressive cache.
Held on 17th March at the Yacht Club of Monaco, the Monaco et Suisse Investment Forum saw investors, entrepreneurs, family offices and end-use customers come together for a day of networking, talks and conferences that were designed to showcase the possibilities of collaborations between businesses in Monaco and Switzerland.
This year, there was an added element in that companies from Romania, Luxembourg, Germany and the United Arab Emirates were also invited to attend, giving the event a broader scope of potential investors and partnerships.
On the agenda: real estate, yachts, aviation, tech and sustainability
There were a total of seven conferences, which covered multiple topics from Swiss tourism to the economy of the Principality, and from sustainability to micro-finance investments and the private jet industry.
Raffaello Cairoli, the director of the Monaco et Suisse Investment Forum and co-founder of Cairoli Monaco Luxury Services, opened the day with a welcome speech for the 280 guests in attendance.
This was followed by a number of enlightening talks from major Monaco players who have links to the forum, such as Brand Therapy creator Trudy Berger, L-Evento founder Sheila De Lucia, Repeople’s Paolo Caspani, Business Development Manager at the Monaco Economic Board Margherita Colombo Pastorelli, Guy Antognelli of the Monaco Tourist and Convention Authority, Massimo Boni representing the Lugano region, and Luca Sassi of EFG Bank Monaco.
Amongst the prestigious invitees were representatives from top drawer real estate agencies and developers, yacht companies, financial services, the design and gaming industries, the aviation sector, and sustainability experts.
In addition to the networking event, guests were invited to two other social gatherings. The first preceded the main event with a VIP invite to the McLaren boutique on the evening of 16th March. Guests created new connections while tasting wines from Tenuta Torciano Winery and sampling a delicious menu by Chef Renato Bernardi.To close the forum on a high, guests at the Yacht Club de Monaco were later invited to Caffé Milano for a more casual get-together at this harbour-side Monaco icon.
Click on the gallery below for more photos of the 2023 Monaco and Swiss Investment Forum:
The pressure was on this weekend for firefighters in Nice and the hinterland of Tende and Saint Auban, who battled multiple fires fed by dry vegetation and high winds.
Around 30 hectares of land burnt in the Alpes-Maritimes department over the course of the weekend, with the biggest two fires noted near Nice, a third in Saint Auban above Grasse, and a fourth close to the Italian border town of Tende. A further two smaller fires were reported by the Sapeurs Pompiers 06.
All began on Saturday 1st April, but were brought under control by the following day thanks to the valiant efforts of the 450 firefighters who were mobilised to tackle the blazes.
Firefighters on the scene in Saint Auban had a tough time containing the blaze due to the difficult terrain, and the use of helicopters was necessary to assist in their efforts. Meanwhile in Tende, five hectares were destroyed as flames came perilously close to homes in the small mountain village. The fire brigade performed edge flooding operations to control the fire.
The Nice fires affected both the road to Aspremont and the road to Colomars, and forced evacuations of 54 people in the early hours of Saturday morning in Colomars. Aerial drops were performed and five firefighters on the scene were overcome by fumes. Two were taken to hospital. Roughly eight hectares in the Aspremont area was blackened, and a further 10 hectares of land were destroyed in Colomars.
FIRE SEASON KICKS IN
In France, the forest fire season typically begins in mid-March and lasts around four months. There were 423 fire alerts reported between April 2022 and March 2023: this is unusually high compared to previous annual averages.
Larvotto beach will be closed to swimmers for a week this April as preparatory works are done for the busy summer season ahead, however all the restaurants and commerce will remain open for business.
In an effort to reduce the slope on the beach, which has steepened considerably during the winter, Monaco authorities will close the beach to swimmers from 11th to 28th April.
The works will include the levelling of the ground to ensure it is as comfortable as possible for when swimmers and bathers return when temperatures heat up.
“In order to respect the balance of the marine biodiversity present on the site, this operation will be accompanied by the installation of retention nets on the body of water, at the right of the coves, of 120 meters each. They will thus preserve the adjoining underwater reserve from sediments generated by the reshaping,” said the government in a statement.
The beach will remain accessible, depending on the progress of the work, which will be carried out from 7:30am to 12pm and from 2pm to 6:30pm.
The restaurants and shops of the complex will remain open.
Throughout the season, regular maintenance will be carried out to maintain the width and the gentle slope of the beach, without causing further closure or non-accessibility for bathers.
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Photo by Monaco Life
Impending invasion: “Lionfish will be swimming in front of the Oceanographic Museum, not just in its tanks”
The lionfish is spreading throughout the Mediterranean. In its wake, as the species edges ever closer to the shores of Monaco, it leaves behind devastated ecosystems and crippled fishing industries. So what can be done to stop it?
During Monaco Ocean Week, Enrico Toja and his team from the Elafonisos Eco Association held a conference on ‘The Lionfish Threat’ at the Yacht Club de Monaco. In sobering terms, he revealed the very serious – and very pressing – matter of halting its invasion of the Mediterranean.
In an interview with Monaco Life, Toja explains what can be done and why we need to act now.
The fastest growing invasion ever reported in the Mediterranean
Lionfish have been documented in the Mediterranean, notably in Cyprus and Crete, for at least the last decade. Today, they are found throughout the Aegean Sea and populations are rising in the Ionian too.
A native of the Indo-Pacific region, they are believed to have made their way through the Suez Canal as the temperatures of the Mediterranean have warmed significantly in recent years – at a rate 20% faster than the global average, according to a UN report.
“Now we are seeing them in Sicily and Calabria,” says Toja, an Italian native who has been living in the Principality for the last 30 years. “I expect that we will find them in Sardinia by this summer, and in Corsica by the following year. Every year, the Mediterranean gets warmer and, within the next five to six years, if we do nothing to stop them, there will be lionfish swimming in front of the Oceanographic Museum in Monaco, not just in the tanks of its aquarium.”
Many people believe the lionfish to be a deadly and poisonous fish that could kill a human, but this is nothing more than a rumour, says Toja.
“If you come into touch with a lionfish, you’ll get a sting like you would from a jellyfish,” he explains. “After 20 minutes of being killed, they are completely safe to touch and eat. There is no venom left.”
Still, it is this persistent reputation that has caused Enrico and his lionfish-battling vanguard some issues in spreading awareness with their campaign, which began on the Greek island of Elafonisos.
From untouched beauty to a devastated coastline
Toja has been travelling to Elafonisos for a long time. He remembers it when there were no roads, no electricity and virtually no other visitors. This has changed in time, but the island has managed to retain much of its natural, unspoilt beauty. Unless, that is, you look beneath the waves.
Soon after the lionfish was spotted in other southerly parts of the Mediterranean, it was found in Elafonisos.
“The lionfish is a rapidly reproducing species. The females can produce 40,000 eggs every two weeks, more than one million eggs per year,” says Toja. “It is a predator fish that will eat up all the octopus and all the sardines in an area. A lionfish can eat up to six times its weight. I’ve seen them eating – they open their mouths so wide – it’s incredible.”
It was quickly realised that it was a problem, but the ingrained image of the fish as a creature that could fatally harm a human kept many away.
“Most fishermen in Elafonisos were scared of lionfish at the start,” Toja explains. “They’d tell me, ‘No, we can’t touch them, they’ll kill us!’ The fishermen knew the lionfish were a problem, they were aware, but they didn’t understand that if they left the fish alone, lionfish would wipe out all the fish in the area.”
After the launch of the Elafonisos Eco Association, a non-profit organisation that is supported by the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation and promotes the fight against the lionfish invasion, the island’s fishing industry got onboard and was soon pulling up nets full of the fish.
“You cannot just have one island that is completely safe”
Elafonisos might be doing all it can to pull lionfish out of its waters – as many as 200 per day for the skilled spearfishing diver and 100 a day for fishermen with nets – but, as Toja explains, “You cannot just have one island that is completely safe.”
The Mediterranean is not getting any cooler any time soon, so the lionfish aren’t going to be driven out that way, and there is no major predator in the sea that can pick off such strong numbers. The best predator out there is… Us.
Soon to be staple on the menus of the Principality?
A flaky white fish, often described as similar to mahi mahi and grouper, it is “very, very, very good”, according to the former Vice-President of Europe for Johnson & Johnson.
“Ceviche, grilled, fried, in soups… It is a delicious fish,” he says. “Our big ambition is to have lionfish on the menu in the Hôtel de Paris and the Hôtel Hermitage and all the other great restaurants in Monaco. Monaco has already shown itself to be a great actor in preserving biodiversity, Prince Albert does a lot of work in this field. For me, Monaco could become the leading nation for studies of lionfish and concrete action plans to stop its invasion.”
Doctor Nathalie Hilmi of the Centre Scientifique de Monaco visited Elafonisos last year, and two of her Masters’ students have spent time analysing the situation on the island. Prince Albert is expected to travel out there during the summer to see the work being done on the ground.
“We need to start with educating the consumer,” says Toja on the delectability of the fish. “We need a supply chain and distribution; we need to see it fresh and frozen in fish counters.”
Responsible consumption, but from a new standpoint
It’s a far cry from the usual call of environmentalists, who more often than not advise us of which fish to avoid eating in order to protect stocks. Here it is the opposite: eat lionfish, is the message, and eat plenty of it to preserve the Mediterranean’s ecosystem from an irrevocable threat. This is not just about Monaco, of course, but the entire and interlinked Mediterranean Sea.
Toja and his team are taking inspiration from the Michelin-starred Colombian chef Jorge Rausch of Criterión in Bogotá, who has championed the use of lionfish in cuisine, noting its impeccable flavour and the positive impact its consumption can have on the recovery of native species.