Jean Castellini, Monaco’s Minister of Finance, steps down

jean castellini

After more than a decade in the job, Jean Castellini has left his role as Monaco’s Minister of Finance and the Economy with immediate effect. 

An official communiqué released by the Cabinet de S.A.S. Le Prince de Monaco on the morning of Friday 15th September has revealed that Jean Castellini, Monaco’s Minister of Finance and the Economy for almost 11 years, is to step down from his position. 

The now former Government Advisor will be replaced by Marco Piccinini. The 71-year-old is a prominent figure in the Principality, with long-time ties to its political, business and sporting spheres. He previously served in the same capacity as Minister of Finance and the Economy between 2011 and 2012, directly preceding Castellini. Piccinini was also appointed as Ambassador for Monaco to India and China in 2010.  

Prior to his role as Minister of Finance and the Economy, 55-year-old Castellini served in the Prince’s Cabinet as a councillor from 2006 and later as Secretary General of the Financial Activities Supervisory Commission. Between 2009 and 2012, he was also Managing Director of the Monaco branch of the J. Safra private bank.  

“I thank Mr. Jean Castellini for his dedication and his loyalty throughout his functions within my Cabinet, then my Government,” said Prince Albert II of Monaco in a statement accompanying the communiqué. “I pay tribute to his numerous actions carried out during nearly 18 years in my service, as well as his human and professional qualities [that are] unanimously recognised in the Principality”.  

The sovereign concluded, “I send all my best wishes to Mr. Jean Castellini in the context of its future activities.” 

No further details indicating the reason for Castellini’s abrupt ceasing of his ministerial functions have been announced.


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Photo source: Monaco Communications Department


Monaco and EU suspend negotiations for an Association Agreement

Monaco and the European Union have ended negotiations on an Association Agreement after the EU failed to accept Prince Albert’s “red line” that’s been drawn to protect the rights of Monegasque nationals.

The news was revealed by the Prince’s Government in a statement on Friday, stating that Executive Vice-President of the European Commission Maroš Šefčovič and a delegation led by Monaco’s Minister of External Relations and Cooperation Isabelle Berro-Amadei met on Thursday 14th September in Brussels.

“At the end of a frank and cordial exchange, the participants drew up the shared observation of an impossibility of reconciling the demands of the European Union with the red lines established by H.S.H. the Prince at the opening of these discussions, which aim to ensure that the current living, working and housing conditions of nationals and residents in the Principality are maintained,” revealed the government.

Years-long negotiations between the European Commission and Monegasque officials were due to conclude by the end of 2023 with the signing of an Association Agreement, based on the EUs mandate of the four freedoms of movement – people, capital, services and goods – and the preservation of the integrity of the internal market.

However, “both parties agreed that the conditions were not met within the current mandate of the European Union to conclude an agreement and agreed to suspend the negotiations,” said the government, adding, “The EU is and will remain a privileged partner of the Principality. The EU and Monaco share many common values and the Principality will continue to support the EU’s action on the international scene, particularly in terms of sanctions. Monaco therefore wishes to continue the dialogue and reflect, with the European Union, on ways to strengthen this relationship.”

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Photo by Monaco Life


Formula 1: Carlos Sainz wins thriller in Singapore to end Max Verstappen’s historic run

Max Verstappen’s record-breaking winning streak came to an end under the Singapore lights as Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz took the chequered flag ahead of Lando Norris on Sunday. 

Red Bull have been quite literally invincible this season. Coming into this weekend’s event, they had won every race, whilst champion-elect Verstappen has won the last 10. However, all runs come to an end, and it was Sainz the man to break it. 

Verstappen could only qualify 11th on Saturday, and whilst the Dutchman managed an impressive recovery drive to 5th, he was never in contention in what was a thrilling race at the Marina Bay Street Circuit. 

Bad luck puts pay to Leclerc’s chances once again

The victory for a time looked like being played out between Sainz and teammate Charles Leclerc. The Monégasque, who began the race in third, overtook George Russell at turn one and immediately began to put his Spanish teammate under pressure. 

However, after Logan Sargeant lost his front wing on lap 20, the safety car was deployed. Ferrari double-stacked their drivers, and whilst Sainz maintained his position, Leclerc missed out, dropping behind Russell, Norris and Hamilton as the pit crew had to wait before releasing the Monégasque due to traffic in the pitlane. It was yet another cruel blow for the Ferrari driver, who had shown good pace. 

Whilst Sainz continued to lead the way, he was far from unchallenged. The Mercedes were both quick and a late pit for mediums saw them close in on Sainz and Norris and compete for the win. 

As the British duo of Russell and Lewis Hamilton closed in on Sainz and Norris, the Ferrari driver intelligently used Norris as a shield, allowing the Brit into DRS range to fend off the charging Silver Arrows. It was a tactic that worked, the front four were separated by less than four seconds with four laps to go, but the Mercedes charge was effectively halted. 

“It’s amazing, but of course, I can’t hide my disappointment.”

In a desperate attempt to close in on the last lap, Russell dramatically crashed out, handing his teammate a place on the bottom of the podium. Norris took second behind Sainz, who earned Ferrari’s first win of what has thus far been a difficult season. Verstappen finished fifth, just behind Leclerc, who would have been caught if not for the chequered flag. 

The Monégasque reacted to a bitter-sweet race in Singapore. “It means a lot [to end Red Bull’s winning run], especially with all the hard work that has been done on a high downforce track. It’s amazing, but of course, I can’t hide my disappointment because on my side, I wish I had done a better result today,” said Leclerc. 

Leclerc and Ferrari should, however, be buoyed by their improvements in performance. The title is beyond them, but they’ll be looking to end the season strongly, beginning in Japan next weekend. 


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Photo source: Scuderia Ferrari Press Office



Football: Heartbreak for Monaco as Lorient snatch late draw

AS Monaco's Aleksandr Golovin competing against FC Lorient.

AS Monaco were denied victory by a last-gasp equaliser by former Monégasque Romain Faivre as Lorient salvaged a point against the league leaders (2-2). 

Monaco have been accustomed to coming from behind away from home. They did so against Clermont and Nantes, ultimately recovering to salvage a combined four points from those two games, and if they were to get anything against Lorient, they would have to do the same. Tosin Aiyegun needed just seconds to open his account as a Lorient player, latching onto a brilliant Eli Junior Kroupi ball to dink past Philipp Köhn, with a little help from the post.

Balogun nets first goal for Monaco

However, as they have for much of the season so far, Monaco soon settled into a rhythm that allowed them to control the game. Wissam Ben Yedder went close before a brilliant team goal, finished by Aleksandr Golovin, allowed the Principality club to draw level.

Whilst Les Monégasques continued to dominate possession, Lorient looked dangerous in transition with Tosin a constant menace, latching onto long balls over the top.

Monaco then took the lead in the second-half thanks to Folarin Balogun. The USMNT striker strikes needed just three minutes to make his mark having replaced Ben Yedder. He did well to work a scoring position before putting the ball past Yvon Mvogo from a tight angle.

“I am annoyed and frustrated.” – Hutter

However, it ultimately wouldn’t be enough for the three points. With the final kick of the game, Faivre latched onto Isaak Touré’s knock-down, blasting past Köhn on the half-volley to level the scores at 2-2. Regardless, Monaco remain top of the table, a place that they will retain regardless of results elsewhere this weekend.

“Of course, I am annoyed and frustrated,” began Hütter post-match. “It wasn’t our best match today but we still managed to bounce back after conceding first, which isn’t simple […] against a side that defends so much and that is so dangerous on the counter, it isn’t easy,” he added.

Things don’t get any easier for Hütter’s side in the coming weeks. The Stade Louis II will play host to two local derbies as OGC Nice and Olympique de Marseille both pay visits to the Principality in the next two weeks.


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Photo source: AS Monaco

Getting to know Monaco: Reaching new horizons in Mareterra

When it comes to major developments in Monaco, nothing comes anywhere close to the size, scale and ambition of Mareterra, the offshore land reclamation project that is forever changing the landscape of the Principality.  

The final stop on our tour of Monaco’s unique districts, from the glitz and glamour of central Monte-Carlo to the ancestral seat of Le Rocher, the traditional Moneghetti and the popular seafront suburb of Larvotto, as well as all the others, is the Principality’s freshly formed Mareterra. 

The future Mareterra district will forever change to look of the Principality and its landscape. Photo courtesy of

Years in the making 

Mareterra consists of six hectares of land reclaimed from the sea, and started as a concept back in the early 2000s. It was originally expected to be completed in 2014, but Prince Albert II of Monaco temporarily halted construction in 2009. The vast project restarted in 2011 and now the end is finally in sight.

By November 2024, Mareterra, a place that takes its name from the two key elements of its surroundings, the sea and the land, should be finished.  

Maraterra starting to take shape in June 2021. Photo by Monaco Life

After years of planning, involving many of the world’s finest architects and engineers, preparatory works to protect the marine biodiversity of the area commenced in 2016. Then came the necessary dredging and maritime works in 2017, followed by the placement of the underwater embankment that the neighbourhood sits upon, which was accomplished in early 2018.  

The first of the caissons – the huge blocks that rise out of the water – was put in place in July 2018 and by the end of the following year, the base for the new strip of land was complete and ready for the next step: the building of the residential properties, offices, cultural sites and, importantly, green spaces that make up this innovative and pioneering site.  

The Maraterra development as seen from the beach in Larvotto, May 2022. Photo by Monaco Life

Greenest of them all

With the new space solidly in place, it was up to the great designers, architects and horticulturalists behind the project to take over, and with every sensitivity to the ecosystem in mind, they began to plan 27,000sqm of “green” space to plant with indigenous and native species of plants.

Around 800 trees will eventually fill the sea-bordering neighbourhood, some of which will exceed 10 metres in height.   

A taster of what these green spaces will look like was revealed in the completion of Portier roundabout in 2020, and again in December 2022, when the first of the rooftop gardens were finished.  

The interior of the new district will be akin to a lush park. Photo courtesy of

Sustainable and responsible: a new kind of district

In addition to green spaces, the buildings have followed strict ecological design and construction regulations in an effort to minimise negative impacts on the natural environment.

Energy-efficiency has been a key phrase throughout the project, with one example being the installation of geothermal systems using the nearby seawater to power the heat and air conditioning units of the various properties. Called a thalasso-thermal loop, it has the advantage over traditional systems in that is it not visible, noisy or pollution-making. Once finished, 80% of Mareterra’s heating and cooling needs should be covered by renewable energy.  

Rainwater collection stations are also to be built on the roofs of all buildings in order to provide a supply of water to Mareterra’s green spaces, and 9,000sqm of solar panels are being installed to take advantage of the region’s abundant sunshine.  

“I wanted this new area to embody the excellence and conviviality which distinguish the Principality of Monaco so well,” said Prince Albert of the project.

Size matters 

Although Mareterra won’t be officially finished for at least another 12 months, sales of the new build properties are reportedly flying.  

The neighbourhood will ultimately house 114 generously sized apartments in two separate buildings – the flagship La Renzo and the Jardins de l’Eau – as well as 10 unique luxury villas, described as “natural heirs to the Belle Époque and modernist mansions of the 19th and early 20th centuries”, and four townhouses featuring indoor courtyards. 

An artist’s impression of one of the luxurious sea-facing villas. Photo courtesy of

Family living is a constant theme and will be encouraged thanks to the huge proportions of all of these properties – even the apartments range in size from 400sqm to 3,000sqm – marking a switch in gears from previous eras, where many bought small apartments to satisfy residency requirements in Monaco but lived elsewhere. 

By the end of next year, the Mareterra neighbourhood will be home to a vibrant mini-port – Le Petit Portier – with berths for 15 vessels and a sea-facing swimming pool, the Piscine Princesse Charlene. Various eateries, commercial spaces and offices will make up the ground-levels of the surrounding buildings. 

As well as a nod to Princess Charlene, a former Olympic swimmer, the children of Prince Albert and his wife will also be honoured at Mareterra.

The Promenade Prince Jacques will link the district with the Larvotto beachfront while the Place Princesse Gabriella will serve as a main entrance to the neighbourhood, as well as providing access to each of its separate sectors.

The Mareterra neighbourhood as seen from the Promenade Prince Jacques. Photo courtesy of


By Stephanie Horsman and Elsa Carpenter


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Main photo by Monaco Life, taken in April 2023



Pope Francis to make historic visit to Marseille later this month 

pope francis marseille

Pope Francis will be visiting Marseille for two days later in September, marking the first time a head of the Catholic Church has returned to the city since 1533.  

From Saturday 16th to Saturday 23rd September, the Rencontres Méditerranéennes 2023 will see some 1,000 priests and 150 cardinals from across the Mediterranean basin head to Marseille, in addition to Pope Francis, who will be present for the two last days of the event. 

Thousands of members of the Catholic Church are also expected to flock to the city, which has had to wait for almost 500 years for a visit from a pope. The last leader of the Catholic Church to stop off in this part of southern France was Pope Clement VII in the first half of the 16th century.  

A packed programme has been planned, including various masses and special visits to the city’s religious sites, as well exhibitions, blessings and inter-religious events, but the highlight for attending Catholics will no doubt be the mass that is set to take over the Orange Vélodrome venue on Saturday 23rd September.  

An estimated 57,000 followers of the Catholic Church are expected to attend the mass, which will begin mid-afternoon. French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte have confirmed their presence at the occasion, to the surprise of many of secular France’s media outlets and politicians.  

According to the Diocese of Marseille, 20 choirs made up of a total 1,000 choristers will fill the northern stands of the repurposed football stadium. The choice of venue is said to be costing the Church €800,000 to rent – a sum that will include the creation of an altar – but the local diocese is hoping that the collections made during the mass will finance, in part, the extraordinary event to the tune of €500,000.  

For the full programme of events, please click here.


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Photo source: Ashwin Vaswani, Unsplash