Club Suisse de Monaco to mingle with friends and French tradition at first meet of the new year

club suisse new year

The Club Suisse de Monaco, one of the Principality’s oldest social associations, will be holding its first event of the new year at 39 Monte-Carlo on Monday 17th January 2024. 

Starting at 6.30pm, the wellness and lifestyle hub on the Avenue Princesse Grace will be welcoming both members and friends of the Club Suisse de Monaco for an aperitif and slice of Galette des Rois, also known at the Three Kings Cake, which traditionally marks the Epiphany in France and sees the finder of the fève crowned King or Queen “of the Year”.  

As well as toasting 2024, the event will be a chance for members to catch up after the holidays and hear about all the events planned for the coming year.  

Members of the club are invited to attend for free, while there will be a charge of €50 per ticket for non-members.  

For further details or to reserve your seat, click here


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Photo source: Damien Creatz, Unsplash

Chalet Animation in the Christmas Village hosting holiday workshops for children

From scrapbooking to wintery terrarium workshops, every day in the run-up to the start of school, there are holiday-themed activities for children taking place in Port Hercule. Here are all the details.  

From 2pm to 6pm each day in Marché de Noël of Port Hercule, the Mairie de Monaco has organised a special festive workshop for children aged six and up.

There have been sessions on wreath and garland making as well as a Scandinavian-inspired decoration class, but there is still plenty to come. 

On Saturday 30th December, the Fêtes des Lumières is the theme. On New Year’s Eve, the British tradition of Christmas crackers is on the agenda and children will be invited to make their own from recycled paper.  

On New Year’s Day, the workshop will be about polar animals, followed by 3D North Pole map making on Tuesday 2nd January.  

Next comes a scrapbooking session ahead of a watercolour class on Thursday 4th January. On Friday 5th January, children can make a North Pole-themed money bank. 

Over the weekend, the art of pop-ups will be the focus on the Saturday before the final workshop on Sunday, which will let children build their own winter terrarium to take home.

Click here for more information.  

Read related:

New holiday season Sports Village opens at Port Hercule


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Photo credit: Stéphane Danna, Monaco Communications Department

New book exchange up and running in Monaco

In the spirit of “out with the old, in with the new”, a new book exchange service has launched at the Marché de la Condamine in Monaco. 

Maybe you’ve already finished the books you received for Christmas or are using these days off to have a good old sort out. Whatever the motivation, the new book exchange programme at the Condamine market is the perfect place to drop off some of the well-thumbed or even forgotten books that are taking up precious space on your bookshelves.

Open to visitors and residents alike, the service not only encouraging wider reading and the chance to discover a whole new story or subject for free, but also supports the Principality’s sustainability pledges by giving books a second life.

The new book exchange service can be found under the eaves of the Marché de la Condamine. Photo source: Mairie de Monaco

It has been in place for around a month now and is the second such service in Monaco. A similar book exchange shelf is available at the Parc Princesse Antoinette on the Boulevard du Jardin Exotique, so if you don’t see anything that catches your eye in the market, then try out the park’s selection!


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Photo source: Jessica Ruscello, Unsplash

What changes in France on 1st January 2024?

A raft of new rules, rights and schemes will come into effect in France on 1st January 2024. Here are all the details.  

At the beginning of each month, the French government releases a list of the latest measures that will be coming into effect either on the first day of the month or over the coming weeks.  

As the start of January also marks the start of a new year, the number of new regulations is particularly high this time round, with changes on everything from employment and the environment to road safety, personal health and housing. 


A few new things are coming into play on the work front, including a 1.13% hike in the minimum wage. This will give full-time workers who receive the SMIC an extra €15 net per month. Whilst this may not seem substantial, this rise is a follow up from a 2.2% raise given back in May 2023.  

See more: Minimum wage in France to increase from start of 2024

Interns will also enjoy a bit more cash in hand, as their bonuses will hit €4.35 per worked hour, up from €4.05. 

The Pôle Emploi job centres will get a name change in 2024 to become France Travail. You can read more about the rebrand here.

Working women who suffered a miscarriage will benefit from immediate paid sick leave as of 1st January, removing the previous rules of a “jour de carence” or day without pay.  


From January, it will be obligatory for individual households to sort their bio-waste. This means that mixing general household waste and food waste will no longer be allowed, with bio-waste requiring a separate container, such as a designated compost bin for home use or a sorting bin for collection.  

See more: Composting revolution coming to France in 2024

The government is expanding its scheme to help households repair certain items rather than buying new by doubling the incentives paid out on five everyday machines: washing machines, dishwashers, clothes dryers, vacuum cleaners and televisions. Accidental breakage repair, which was excluded previously from the scheme, is now included. Find out more by clicking here.  

There will also be a new scheme allowing households with modest incomes the possibility of getting long-term leases on electric vehicles for €100 per month. For complete terms, click here

See more: France: New €100 per month “social leasing” programme to widen access to electric vehicles


Under new road rules, 17-year-old drivers will be allowed to take their practical exam for Category B vehicles in 2024. This type of permit allows people to drive vehicles up to 3,500kg and with up to eight passenger seats, as well as tow a trailer weighing up to 750kg. This permit was previously only available to drivers aged 18 and older. 

There will also be changes to how minor speeding infractions are dealt with. For example, Drivers going less than 5km/h over the speed limit will no longer lose points from their licences, but they will still be eligible for the usual fines, which range from €68 to €135.  

See more: Minor speeding infractions in France will no longer lose drivers points in 2024


The elderly and disabled will be given increased access to financial assistance for important adaptation works to their homes, such as stairlifts and the widening of doors for wheelchair users, via the MaPrimeAdapt’ scheme. 

January will also see the introduction of a new scheme that could see owners of second homes or vacant properties in rural areas paid up to €5,000 to rent out their places in an effort to ease housing shortages in certain parts of the country. More details on the Prime pour la Mise en Location scheme are expected to be announced soon.  


Finally, the government is introducing new help and support centres for victims of domestic violence at all of France’s tribunals and courts to “guarantee coordinated and rapid action by all judicial actors and their partners”.   


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Photo source: Grégory Palmer, Unsplash

Pierre Dartout discusses ambitious plans for urban and environmental transformation

In a comprehensive interview with Monaco Matin, Minister of State Pierre Dartout outlined the Principality of Monaco’s ambitious strategies to navigate the complexities of urban development, mobility, and environmental sustainability in an increasingly uncertain world.

“Building and construction will continue to be a source of revenue for the State,” Pierre Dartout told Monaco Matin in a recent interview, emphasising the vital role of real estate in sustaining Monaco’s economy. Post-2024, even without the new Mareterra district, the focus will be on projects that generate valuable VAT and remunerate the state.

By providing innovative solutions in waste treatment, Monaco aims to stay ahead in managing its environmental impact within its limited 2.2 km² territory.

Discussing the waste sorting and recovery centre, Dartout remarked to Monaco Matin, “This is not just an element of sovereignty… it is also necessary to ensure that Monaco is ahead of the curve in terms of waste treatment.”

A significant focus of Dartout’s interview with Monaco Matin was on mobility, both within Monaco and its accessibility from neighbouring regions. The proposed deterrent car park in La Brasca, which requires an agreement with France, signifies Monaco’s efforts to streamline transportation. This project, as Dartout explained, aims to ease access to Monaco and improve internal mobility.

Dartout also indicated ongoing plans to facilitate housing for civil servants and public employees, contributing to Monaco’s attractiveness as an employment hub. “We are currently thinking about an operation that could benefit civil servants and public servants,” he told the newspaper.

Dartout’s vision for a greener, more sustainable urban environment

Echoing Prince Albert II’s environmental convictions, Dartout emphasised the need for a greener Monaco. “The landscape is a little too mineralised,” he said to Monaco Matin, advocating for a revegetation effort and redesigning pedestrian paths to enhance Monaco’s natural beauty and biodiversity.

As Monaco faces future challenges, Dartout’s roadmap reflects a principality poised to blend urban development with environmental consciousness, demonstrating a model for sustainable and innovative urban governance.

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Photo source: Government of Monaco

Interview: Cecilia Bartoli on taking the Opéra de Monte-Carlo to new heights

In less than a year as director, Cecilia Bartoli has brought a new impetus and energy to the Opéra de Monte-Carlo, with an exciting production programme and top of the line performers, plus the added stardom that this celebrated Italian coloratura mezzo-soprano brings to the stage.

Cecilia Bartoli was born in Rome, Italy. Her father is a dramatic tenor and her mother lyric soprano, and both were members of the Rome Opera chorus. They recognised Cecilia’s capabilities and were the inspiration for her to start singing as a teenager, with her mother remaining as her only voice teacher.

Her professional career started at age 19 when she performed on a television show with baritone Leo Nucci. She impressed conductors Herbert von Karajan and Daniel Barenboim, who recognised her talent and voice suited perfectly to the difficult coloratura repertoire of Mozart and Rossini.

The rest is history, as Bartoli has become one of classical music’s most popular performers, selling millions of albums and filling up concert halls. The popularity of her projects has enabled her to reevaluate and rediscover long lost operas and composers, reviving a forgotten repertoire, and putting the spotlight on new singers and new pieces.

Her new lyric roles, her concert programmes and albums are welcome with enthusiasm all over the world.

Bartoli is now an intrinsic part of the celebrated history of the legendary Opéra de Monte-Carlo.

Cecilia Bartoli at the Opéra de Monte-Carlo, photo credit: Fabrice Demessence

Monaco Life: How did you come to be appointed director of the Opéra de Monte-Carlo?

Cecilia Bartoli: I grew into this profession slowly, not out of any ambition to become “the boss”. I have simply been passionate about large scope projects for more than 25 years, and they became increasingly more intricate.

It started with my recording projects dedicated to little-known composers, concert tours, documentaries, staged performances, exhibitions, a novel and more. I even asked friends to contribute something from their own field of activity.

When I became artistic director of the Salzburg Whitsun Festival in 2012, I was entrusted with a mini festival of four intense days highlighting a particular theme each year. New art styles, such as ballet and cinema, featured here from the beginning. Now, in Monte-Carlo, I have the great honour and pleasure to create an entire season where my ideas materialise.

As an accomplished singer and director, you have a rich network of worldwide renowned artists. So, do you plan to bring la crème de la crème to the Principality?

Absolutely! I want to bring people to Monte-Carlo who have not been here before, or very rarely, such as Jonas Kaufmann or Lang Lang. I plan to bring back artists such as the mythical Placido Domingo, with whom I experienced a memorable emotional moment singing together in the Salle Garnier in April 2023.

What makes a successful opera director?

First and foremost, you should have a clear vision, be open, creative and passionate about the arts in general, that you then will transmit onto your audience, to make them feel as excited as you are. For that, you must get to know and connect with your public.

It is imperative to gain the trust of your teams to motivate them. I am most grateful for my Monte-Carlo team, which is small but extremely professional and dedicated, and most important we share a common spirit.

The Phantom of the Opera, photo credit: Alessandro Pinna

It is true that you are only as strong as your team. How do you challenge each other?

I think that most artists hate routine. You need to show them new repertoire and different approaches to well-known pieces, you need to create a professional, efficient, cooperative, but also pleasant working environment. It is especially important to listen to each other’s ideas and needs.

A successful theatre production is always the result of teamwork, paired with a professional attitude, commitment to the cause and respect for the work of art you are producing.

How do you influence the staging for the operas you present?

I would like to think that I do not influence, but I try to anticipate certain results by choosing the leading team carefully. My job is to be available and help or mediate if any questions arise, or if I am asked for advice.

It is well known that opera has held a prominent place in the art world for 400 years, but it is essential to prove relevance in the world we live in. What is the relevance of opera in our time and place?

Opera is multifaceted, but also one of the most difficult art forms because it is so complex: you need singers, an orchestra, often a chorus, sometimes dancers. The libretto is often in a high foreign language literature and needs to be brought across to your listeners. You have the visual side – costumes, lights, and sets – which the spoilt 21st audience expects to be at least as stunning as in a Harry Potter movie or video game.

Opera will always be relevant as it covers all aspects of our lives, from birth to death, love and hatred, politics and philosophy, private interest and public duties, rural and city life, princes and paupers, entertainment, excitement and consolation, comedy, tragedy and farce – in summary, everything for every taste and interest. Opera has survived for centuries, and it will continue do to so, if we prove it is significant, and we present it at the highest possible standard, with the greatest passion and respect for our audiences.

Cecilia Bartoli performing in Il Barbiere di Siviglia at the Opéra de Monte-Carlo, photo credit: Marco Borrelli

What is the importance of storytelling as the basis of a good opera?

If you mean story telling as a theatrical means – the way an opera unfolds before the audience – it is essential. We must keep the attention of the public even after the curtain falls. Besides, it is difficult to generalise about opera – it being a genre that emerged in the 17th century. There are operas with a great story, there are others without a story. There are operas with a weak story, but fantastic music. But there are no good operas with a great story but bad music.

What is your view in making music scores changes?

Many questions in theatre are resolved according to practical considerations. And a gripping performance only works if certain rules of the theatre are respected, coups de-théâtre, for example. If you succeed in improving a theatrical effect by making small changes to the score, then it is admissible in my mind. Throughout the 18th, 19th and early 20th century, composers changed elements in their scores according to the conditions of a particular house or an individual musician or the abilities of a singer. Particularly in the 18th century, entire arias and scenes were revised to suit a particular cast, so it is nothing unusual really.

It is well known that you encourage the development of young artists, and you are already working with both the Princess Grace Dance Academy and the Rainier III Music Academy, indicating that you favour crosspollination with other art forms. Would you collaborate with Pavillon Bosio, directed by talented scenographer Thierry Leviez?

Monaco is extremely rich in cultural initiatives and institutions! I find it very inspiring to discover them and find ways to work together. As we speak, the singers of our new Opera Academy – dedicated this time to French music – are being integrated in Jean-Christophe Maillot’s new ballet production of L’Enfant et les Sortilèges, a fantastic new project.

Apart from the institutions you mention, we also collaborate with our decade-long partner, the Philharmonic Orchestra of Monte-Carlo and – for the first time – Le Printemps des Arts for the evening with John Malkovich’s ‘Their Master’s Voice’.

The Pavillon Bosio is a fascinating institution, and I could very well imagine finding a common ground for future projects.

Cecilia Bartoli with Les Musiciens du Prince, photo credit: Macro Borrelli

What is your vision for the future of opera?

This art genre has survived for centuries and gone through profound changes in society and the world at large. If it is performed well, it will survive, maybe in different shapes and forms; the repertoire will surely change, as it always has done. For certain it will remain alive with the help of you all!


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Main photo of Cecilia Bartoli, photo credit: Marco Borrelli