Prince Albert II-backed hot air balloon challenge in the works

Prince Albert II in 'Monaco' hot air balloon

The Aeronauts of Monaco are working to organise the first ever edition of the Coupe Prince Albert II de Monaco, a hot air balloon challenge leading participants to the Piedmont region in Italy.

The prospective event will begin in the Principality, with meteorologist Wim de Troyer launching proceedings. Participation will be reserved for environmental aeronauts, and those taking part will cross the Monaco border into France before completing the challenge in the Piedmont region of northern Italy.

Photo source: /

This event, which will take place sometime between 1st February to 30th April 2024, is being supported by Prince Albert II, who was pictured in a ‘Monaco’ hot-air balloon earlier this week.

The budget for the event is believed to have been set and backed by Prince Albert II, and organisers are looking for further investment in order to ensure the running of the competition next spring.

Photo source: /

The Coupe Prince Albert II Monaco will have a competitive edge, but it will also act as a “laboratory”, helping discover environmentalist solutions in the field.


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Rugby Sevens: Monaco suffer back-to-back final defeats

Monaco's Rugby Sevens at the 2023 Lyon finals

Monaco Rugby Sevens were defeated in their second consecutive final in as many weeks, however, their place in the Grand Final in October has already been secured.

Just one week after their defeat in Clermont at the hands of UBB Sevens (17-19), Monaco succumbed to another final defeat, this time against Selection Paloise Sevens (26-31).

Monaco’s Paris ticket booked

Jérémy Aicardi’s men began the Lyon finals well, sweeping aside Oyonnax Rugby (38-07) before coming out in a tighter tie against Lou Rugby Sevens (21-14). A win against Racing Metro 92 (19-05) then booked their place in the final on Friday.

Against Palois, Monaco’s opponent in the Grand Final last season, Aicardi’s men came unstuck.

Despite Palois taking their revenge this time round, Monaco could ultimately have the last laugh as the Monegasques top the standings heading into the final stage in Pau this Friday and have therefore already booked their place in the Grand Final in Paris on 22nd October, where Aicardi’s men will have the chance to defend last season’s title.


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Photo source: Inextenso Rugby Sevens

Countdown till lift-off for Namira Salim, Monaco’s first space traveller

namira salim

In less than 10 days’ time, Namira Salim will be boarding the Virgin Galactic 04 spaceflight on an extraordinary expedition that she has dreamed about since childhood. 

On Thursday 5th October, Namira Salim, a former Honorary Consul of Pakistan to Monaco, will make history as the first astronaut resident in the Principality and the first Pakistani to venture into space. 

“When news broke in 2004 that the first private spaceflight, the $10 million Ansari X Prize winning flight, made it to space successfully, Richard Branson announced that he would license the technology to create Virgin Galactic, the first space line of the world,” says Salim. “I immediately picked up the phone and called Virgin before they had even set up offices to lock the deal and buy my ticket.” 

The 48-year-old seasoned adventurer signed the contract in early 2006, becoming the first woman to officially join the programme, and hasn’t looked back since. 

“Thrilled to take to the #stars…” she posted earlier this month on social media, “inspiring #girls #women and #youth globally to reach for the stars.” 

Reaching for the stars 

This will be the fifth spaceflight Virgin Galactic has embarked upon this year and the ninth to date. 

This mission will see Galactic 04 journey take off from the spaceport in New Mexico with two other private astronauts aboard – British advertising executive Trevor Beattie and American astronomy educator Ron Rosano – as well as Astronaut Instructor Beth Moses.  

Commander Kelly Latimer and Pilot C.J. Sturckow will fly the VSS Unity spaceplane on Galactic 04, while VMS Eve Commander Nicola Pecile and Pilot Jameel Janjua will be at the helm of the carrier plane Eve that takes Unity to 13,700 metres altitude before it travels to suborbital space.  

Salim will be “proudly” taking a Monegasque flag, along with that of her home nation, with her on the voyage.  

Ever since childhood, Salim says that she has been dreaming of travelling to space, calling it a “historic milestone” as well as a source of inspiration.  

Salim is not new to adventure. In 2007, she became the first female resident of the Principality to reach the North Pole. A year later, she made the tough journey to the South Pole as well as securing another mention in the history books when she became the first Asian and first Monaco resident to complete a tandem skydive over Mount Everest during the inaugural Everest Skydive event.  


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Photo supplied by Namira Salim

Saorge joins other Riviera villages ranked amongst France’s “most beautiful”


The medieval monastic village of Saorge, found an hour or so from Monaco in the Roya Valley, has joined a growing list of Riviera communes ranked amongst the “Most Beautiful Villages in France”.  

Jutting out on a rocky spur, backed by rom the rising peaks of the Mercantour and overlooking the Roya River below, the 15th century village of Saorge has been described as having an air of a Tibetan mountain village about it.  

Tall, slim houses line a warren of streets on several levels while steep stairways knit the Alpes-Maritimes commune together. No cars pass along these streets; they are just too narrow, laid down in an age before motorised vehicles. It is a picturesque and peaceful place, and something of a hidden treasure. 

Now this lovely spot has been given the airtime it deserves, having joined the prestigious list of French municipalities that boast a coveted spot on the “Les Plus Beaux Villages de France” ranking from the well-respected Michelin Guide.  

The nationwide list is today 174 strong thanks to the 2023 additions of Soarge and the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence village of Entrevaux, as well as the recent local newcomers of Cotignac and Le Castellet in the Var in 2021 and 2022 respectively. They join Coaraze, Sainte-Agnès and Gourdon in the Alpes-Maritimes and the Varois villages of Bargème, Gassin, Seillans and Tourtour, which have all been previous recipients of the label. 


A total of 32 criteria are applied to each village up for the listing, based on things such as architecture, history, heritage, urban planning, environmental quality and development efforts.  

The population cut-off rests at 2,000 people or fewer to be eligible, and the village must contain at least two protected monuments or sites.  

To see the full list, please click here.  

Read related:

Four little-known French villages near Monaco that are worth a visit


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Photo source: Office de Tourisme Menton, Riviera & Merveilles

France’s plan to wean itself off fossil fuels and end coal use by 2027

france fossil fuels

French President Emmanuel Macron has announced an ambitious national plan to cut back France’s dependency on fossil fuels and lower greenhouse gases significantly by the end of this decade.  

The extensive 50-point programme, dubbed “écologie à la française” by the President and which focuses on climate, biodiversity, the circular economy and energy, was revealed earlier this week.

It seeks to cut greenhouse gas emissions by more than 50% compared to levels from 1990 and reduce national dependency on traditional fuel sources such as petrol and gas from 60% to 40% by 2030. Coal-powered electricity plants will cease to be in operation by 2027 under the new plans.  

In his speech at the Elysée, Macon said it is essential that “France reduces [its] dependence on so-called fossil fuels, coal, petrol and gas, which [we] don’t produce any more but on which we depend”, adding that an additional €10 billion had been allocated by the state in order to fund the necessary changes.  

Investments in infrastructure and technology 

One major aspect of this plan will be lessening emissions produced by heating and cooling systems, which, according to the International Energy Agency, account for nearly half of the planet’s energy use. Almost two-thirds of these systems are powered by fossil fuels.  

France is to build and install a million new heat pumps over the next four years, according to Macron, which he described as “a fabulous lever for substitution, with much lower energy consumption and emissions”. This is triple the current national production levels and will require the training of 30,000 people. 

France will also be seeking to increase electric vehicle production to a million cars each year by 2027, build more offshore windfarms, and establish new or larger electric battery factories.  

Additionally, Macron’s scheme is pouring €700 million into the building of 13 suburban train lines to “encourage people to move away from private cars to low-emission public transport”.  

Furthermore, the country’s 50 worst-polluting industrial sites are being asked to sign an agreement to reduce pollution by 45% by 2030. 


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Photo source: Florian Olivo, Unsplash

Podcast: Exclusive interview with Prince Albert II on the rise of sustainable yachting

As a staunch and passionate advocate for the oceans, Prince Albert, together with various institutions in Monaco, is on a mission to upturn the superyacht industry and make it as sustainable and environmentally friendly as possible.

One step towards achieving that is the new Sustainability hub at the Monaco Yacht Show which, as Prince Albert explained to Monaco Life, is a great platform for change.

Since 1991, the Monaco Yacht Show (MYS) has been at the forefront of the superyacht industry. And a lot has changed in those 30 years, but perhaps in no aspect more important than sustainability.

Now, a Sustainability hub has sprung up at the centre of the show. It’s easy to identify with its recycled plywood walls and uniquely green logo. There are also plenty of familiar signs like “Reduce CO2 impact”, “Time to shift”, “Fuel cell hydrogen power” and “Sustainable sails”.

With 14 exhibitors, it is certainly not the largest section of the MYS, but it does show where the industry is headed, as Prince Albert explained during an exclusive interview with Monaco Life.

“To have this actual hub with the different presentations and different companies that are in these tents, I think it is a tremendous step forward and wonderful proof that the yachting industry is concerned, not only about their environmental footprint and their impact on the environment, but that they are working hard at finding new solutions.”

Monaco Yacht Show 2022, photo by Cassandra Tanti for Monaco Life

The Monaco Yacht Show actually initiated its own pro-environmental approach back in 2005.

“We have been working with the Monaco Yacht Show for three years to introduce this idea of sustainability in yachting,” explained the Prince. “It started off with different programmes, most importantly with carbon offsetting, and then by making this event carbon neutral, which it has been now for 15 years or more.”

There are also Monaco-led initiatives to encourage more sustainable practices in the superyacht industry, and to reward those who are most innovative.

“To try to bring the yachting industry to have better practices, that started off with the Wood Forever Project, which was to encourage the use of wood from sustainable forests, certified forests,” added Prince Albert. “We have a prize for that every year; we give an award for not only the best yacht design, but the most sustainable yacht project.

“It’s not only the sustainable use of different materials but, more importantly, the propulsion, and that was very evident last year when we did the hydrogen forum at the Yacht Club, parallel to the Monaco Yacht Show.”

The yachting industry has certainly made strides over the past five to 10 years to lessen its ecological footprint through new, innovative technologies like hydrogen fuel cells, and its partly been driven by a stronger demand from buyers and those chartering yachts.

“There are many yacht owners, particularly many new yacht owners and many new generation yacht owners, that are concerned about that and they want to make that push toward not only clean energy – and electric is a part of it – but especially hydrogen, and I think that is a very encouraging sign.”

Monaco Life Editor in Chief Cassandra Tanti with HSH Prince Albert, photo credit: Eric Mathon, Prince’s Palace

As one of the biggest superyacht shows in the world, the MYS provides an important platform for innovators, says Prince Albert, showcasing that the technology is out there – right now – so that change can be embraced by the maritime industry as a whole.

“Hopefully that will spill over in the future to other areas of maritime, in commercial vessels, of course, but also possibly military vessels. So, this is very important and this is a great showcase for the yachting industry as you know, because if we are able to prove that that is a valid way forward then I think that everybody will embrace it.”

A big appeal of yachting is the ability to seek out idyllic, isolated locations and to enjoy the diverse marine life. So, I asked Prince Albert how much of a responsibility do yacht owners and charterers have to embrace more sustainable practices to preserve these destinations, and is there even enough awareness among them of the challenges faced by the oceans?

“It’s so frustrating, because I witness that first hand in different areas, in that you do get encouraging news on the one hand that there are people out there that are genuinely concerned, but then you talk to another group of people and the awareness is simply not there, or it is in very patchy forms. So, it’s a constant battle and a constant struggle to bring these ideas forward and give them the right platform to find their voice.

“This is a great platform for the yachting industry; this is one of the biggest yacht shows, for superyachts at least, in the world, and so what better platform to express that. But we have to reach out to a wider audience, in other areas also not just in yachting, but to have yachting be an example and show to others that it is possible to imagine a different way forward, and a more sustainable way forward. That’s very important. But we do need more people out there to be convinced and to spread the word more efficiently.”



Photo above of HSH Prince Albert and Cassandra Tanti, Editor in Chief of Monaco Life, Monaco Life, photo credit: Eric Mathon, Prince’s Palace



Stay sane, sustain



This article was first published on 1st October 2022.