Prince Albert and Princess Charlene officially start Christmas festivities in Monaco

Monaco’s Christmas Village kicked off with a Princely procession led by Prince Albert II, Princess Charlene and Princess Stéphanie, honouring the centenary of Prince Rainier III. The Princely couple then headed to the Place du Casino to officially light the giant Christmas tree.

The Port Hercule transformed into a festive spectacle as the Christmas Village, dedicated to Prince Rainier III, opened its gates on 7th December. The evening began at 4pm, with the Princely family arriving at 5:30pm to commence the inauguration.

A dazzling start to Monaco’s festive season

Prince Albert II inaugurated the event with a heartfelt speech in honour of his father, Prince Rainier III, followed by the Monegasque national anthem. The Princely family then commenced their tour of the village, beginning at the Ferris wheel and progressing towards the central Christmas tree. Adding a personal touch to the event, they engaged warmly with stall staff and attendees, stopping to shake hands and take pictures. Princess Charlene stood out, looking stunning in a striking red coat, complementing the festive atmosphere of the village.

Prince Albert greets stall holders while opening Monaco’s Christmas Village on Thursday night. Photo by Monaco Life

Amidst a chorus of countdowns, the giant Christmas tree, along with the entire village, burst into a spectacle of lights, symbolising the official start of the festive season. This was complemented by a fountain show at the Rainier III outdoor swimming pool, captivating with its synchrony of water, light, and music.

The village itself reflects the varied interests of Prince Rainier III, with decorations and scenes related to arts, motorsport, animals, and the sea. Visitors can wander through the decorated promenade, reliving the prince’s life through animated scenes and old photographs. It features 24 shopping stalls, and numerous food outlets, alongside entertainment including parades, concerts, and workshops for children.

The Christmas Village at Port Hercule is now open. Photo by Monaco Life

The village will be open daily from 11 am, until the 7th January, 2024.

Christmas in Monte-Carlo

Following the opening of the Christmas Village at Port Hercule, the Princely Couple headed to the Casino Square, where they ceremoniously lit the giant Christmas tree and initiated the Christmas spirit in Monte-Carlo alongside SBM President Stéphane Valeri, complete with giant snow globes filled with perfectly instagrammable Christmas scenes.

Click here to see more in our Instagram reel. 



Dates for the diary: Santa to tour Monaco’s most iconic locations this Christmas


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Main photo credit: Direction de la Communication / Stephane Danna



“World’s most highly trained covert operative” to speak at human trafficking conference in Monaco

UPDATE: Event cancellation, notified 11/12/2023 due to unforeseen circumstances.

Tony Schiena, a man known as the “world’s most highly trained covert operative” in the global fight against human trafficking and terrorism, will next week be speaking at a web conference held in the Principality on behalf of the Monaco Association of Compliance Officers. Here are all the details.  

Human trafficking is one of the world’s most insidious crimes. It is estimated that there are currently 40 million people who are being forced to work without pay or basic rights around globe, with the situation of many being compounded by a vicious cycle of abuse.  

Some of the jobs these victims must endure include being sold into the sex trade, working as forced labourers on farms and in factories, and as domestic servants, such as nannies or maids. While the roles they are forced to perform vary, all live under the threat of violence or in fear. To make matters worse, some €140 billion is believed to be made off the backs of these vulnerable people by human traffickers every year.  

Almost every country in the world is in some way affected by this crime, either as a point of origin, a transit stopover or as a destination. Even Monaco undergoes evaluations by the Council of Europe’s Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA), which recently sent a third delegation to the Principality. Following the visit, GRETA officials made the explicit recommendation that the government should raise awareness on the issue in the Principality. 


Tony Schiena may not be a household name, but he should be. He is one of the world’s most experienced elite counter terrorism and human trafficking experts. He has worked extensively in the field as well as behind the scenes as a trainer of other operatives and is the owner of defence intelligence company, MOSAIC Security. Schiena also founded MOSAIC Federation, an organisation set up to combat modern slavery and the trafficking of children.   

He has spoken at numerous high-level events, including at the United Nations, the Vatican, the UK House of Lords, the House of the President of India, at the G20 Women conference in Paris and to government panels in Pakistan and Dubai as well as various “other prestigious political platforms”.  

Now, he is set to speak at a web conference reserved for members of the Monaco Association of Compliance Officers (AMCO) on 11th December at 12.30pm. The event will be hosted by Landmark Management. 

Schiena is expected to discuss his past work as well as his present occupations, with references to the challenges and actions being taken in the fight against this shocking crime. 

Schiena will also touch on topics including: the role of money laundering in human trafficking; how private companies are fighting it; the links between terrorism and trafficking; the use of tech in trafficking; and the roles of compliance officers in combatting it, amongst other salient themes.  

Nathalie Schinzig, Head of Compliance at Landmark Management, will moderate. She will also serve as co-speaker.  

I’ll speak about the global aspect of modern slavery, human trafficking and [the] money laundering of the funds related to this harmful crime as well as the role of Compliance Officers in the fight with the human trafficking,” she tells Monaco Life.  

The conference will be delivered in English and a link to join will be sent out to participants prior to the event. For further information, click here. 


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Monaco sets goals for an “inclusive society” with wide-reaching National Policy for Disability Inclusion

With the launch of its new National Policy for Disability Inclusion, which will focus on key areas such as employment, housing and mobility, Monaco has set itself on a path to a future where everyone living and working within its borders will be “ready to receive, welcome, understand, hire, educate, train and work with disabled people”.

There are roughly one billion people in the world living with disabilities, 80% of which are not instantly apparent, but that nonetheless put the person at a disadvantage in one way or another.  

In order to ensure all those who live and work in Monaco have an equal footing, the Monegasque government has decided to step up its efforts to support this sector of the public with a far-reaching National Policy for Disability Inclusion. 

The goals of the policy were announced on 5th December at a well-attended conference headed up by Monaco’s Minister of Health and Social Affairs, Christophe Robino.  

Sophie Cluzel, who served as French Secretary of State for People with Disabilities between 2017 and 2022, was invited to speak at the event and she highlighted the necessity of a more “inclusive society” as well as the need for any plan pertaining to the disabled to come from the top, so that it filters down to every part of the culture. 

Sophie Cluzel, who served as French Secretary of State for People with Disabilities between 2017 and 2022, was invited to speak at the event. Photo credit: Manuel Vitali, Monaco Communications Department

To that end, a new post dedicated to implementing the policy has been created. Lionel Galfre, who most recently worked as Director of MonacoTech, but who has also held numerous positions within the government, is now the Technical Advisor for People with Disabilities in Monaco.  


The National Policy for Disability Inclusion addresses nine main areas: public awareness about all forms of disabilities; education and training; employment; housing and construction; mobility and accessibility; support and assistance; access to sport, culture and leisure; information about what has been and is being done for people with disabilities; and international recognition.  

A new logo for policy was also unveiled at the event, with Robino saying, “I wanted this new phase of our national disability inclusion policy to be represented by a new visual identity, designed to unite people around a modern and dynamic project to raise awareness and bring the whole of Monegasque society on board. It’s everybody’s business, and the goal is to be ready!” 

The vibrant new logo will soon be a familiar sight in the Principality. Photo credit: Manuel Vitali, Monaco Communications Department

In a statement released following the event, the Monegasque government said it wished “to make Monaco a place of excellence for disability inclusion in the future”.

On stage at the event, Robino summed up the goals of the policy by saying, “Communicate, educate, support – these are the key principles of the ministerial policy on disability inclusion and professional integration built on this national disability plan.” 


Monaco has already begun making progress towards the “inclusive society” championed by Cluzel. Over the last few years, these initiatives include: a support guide for employers and employees; a campaign to ensure as many shops and restaurants as possible in the Principality are fully accessible; the launch of a mobility app to help people with disabilities get around Monaco; and various information and awareness platforms in the public and private realm.   

“Making disability known and understood by all is an essential step on the path to a Principality that truly includes disabled people, not just in word, but in deed and in spirit,” said the newly appointed Galfre. “That can be achieved through a pragmatic policy, hand in hand with the associations that work every day in the interests of people with visible or invisible disabilities and every public and private stakeholder in Monegasque society. Our goal is for everyone in the future to be able to say “I’m ready”. Ready to receive, welcome, understand, hire, educate, train, and work with disabled people.” 

For more information, click here.


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Photo credit: Manuel Vitali, Monaco Communications Department 

Christmas in Monaco: Major shopping rendez-vous planned for Condamine neighbourhood

If you’re yet to get started on your Christmas shopping, look no further than the inaugural ‘Monaco Christmas Rendez-Vous’ shopping extravaganza that is set to take over the Condamine neighbourhood on 14th December. 

The bustling Condamine district in Monaco is abuzz with excitement for the very first ‘Monaco Christmas Rendez-Vous’ shopping event that is being planned for Thursday 14th December.

More than 40 local businesses are already on board, including boutiques, bars and the nearby market traders, and they are going all out: shoppers can expect a day filled with lively entertainment, exclusive offers, tempting discounts and musical delights.  

“This is more than just a shopping day; it’s a reflection of our local businesses’ collaborative spirit,” one participating businessowner told Monaco Life.  

See more: Getting to know Monaco: The lively La Condamine, a favourite with locals

The event, which is being sponsored by the Carlo app and Artcom, is designed to foster a sense of community as well as highlight the diverse nature of the district’s commercial landscape.  

For those interested in planning their day and route around the shops, detailed information about participating businesses and their specific offers, as well as the full schedule of the event, is available here.


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Photo by Monaco Life  

Celebrating 50 years of MonacoUSA, a club that blends the American spirit with Monaco’s allure

This year marks the 50th anniversary of MonacoUSA and to celebrate, we take a look back at the origins of this vibrant club that was always close to the heart of the Princely family.

Grace Patricia Kelly, the Oscar laurate American actress who became Princess of Monaco in 1956 when she married Prince Rainier III, whole heartedly supported the creation of MonacoUSA in 1973 to honour her country of birth. In fact, Princess Grace hosted an annual ‘American Week’ in Monaco, where guests would play baseball, eat hotdogs and ice-cream, and celebrate Thanksgiving at the Palace.

Today, MonacoUSA is presided by family friend Mike Powers, and run by well-known personality Annette Anderson, maintaining its very American attributes of friendliness, openness and informality; that casual manner that characterised Princess Grace, who easily embraced different cultures; the same affable traits inherited by her son Prince Albert II.

Annette Anderson

From southern Maine to the Cote d’Azur

Annette Anderson was a reporter for a daily newspaper in southern Maine, USA, and further developed a career in advertising, marketing, and financial communications. The Governor of Maine appointed her Chairman of the Commission on Maine’s Future. In 1989, she left behind her classic American corporate style and moved to the Cote d’Azur in search of a lifestyle based on family values and quality of life. When she arrived in the Principality, she met the late Kate Powers and Didier Rubiolo and began working at the famous Le Texan restaurant, which owes its whimsical name to Prince Rainier III, who had a very dry sense of humour, according to Annette.

In 1993 Annette joined Kate and Didier in creating Stars’N’Bars, Monaco’s first family-friendly sports bar and restaurant, overseeing communications and community relations. The legendary restaurant, where most of the MonacoUSA events were held, closed for good in 2022, and in 2023 Anette joined Didier in launching Conscientiae offering a farm-to-table dining experience.

School bags donation operation at Stars’N’Bars in 2016

Roll out the welcome wagon

When she became Director of MonacoUSA, Annette created bi-monthly networking events to connect newly arrived Americans and other English-speaking people with the movers-and-shakers in the Principality. The main goal was to offer a happy and friendly way of greeting newcomers and getting them acquainted with Monaco’s lifestyle. In 2013 MonacoUSA was awarded the Order of Grimaldi, to honour and recognise those contributing to the prestige of the Principality.

MonacoUSA keeps close touch with the Monaco Ambassador to the US, Maguy Maccario Doyle, and US Consul General in Marseille Jessica Huaracayo, for any events they organise in Monaco, and for celebrating American Independence Day and Thanksgiving.  They also host USA Election Night every four years, an event that goes well into the night and lasts until the wee hours of the morning to follow the process of electing a new American president.

Quiz Night has been a highlight of the association, bringing together more than 100 local contestants each time, including Prince Albert himself, who proved to be a wizard at playing the “test your general knowledge” entertainment. Annette remembers that when they first initiated the quiz more than 20 years ago; they invited celebrity guests including Shirley Bassey and Justin Hayward of the Moody Blues, who both performed their famous hits, as well as F1 driver David Coulthard.

The late Kate Powers and Annette Anderson at Stars’N’Bars

Looking into the future

On 5th December, MonacoUSA marked its 50th anniversary with a celebratory event at the Novotel Monte-Carlo, during which Anette Anderson spoke to a crowd of over a hundred about the importance of community coming together, and how, next year, she hopes that MonacoUSA will be able to identify more ways of making a difference in the local community.

MonacoUSA is actively recruiting visionary board members of any nationality interested in bringing the club into the future. Those interested can send an email to:


Photos: Hundreds join Prince Albert for official launch of Kate Powers Foundation


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All photos supplied

Annual U Giro de Natale charity race coming to Port Hercule this weekend

The U Giro de Natale race will take place this Sunday, with a course departing Port Hercule for the streets of the Principality that is perfect for runners and walkers of all ages and levels.  

Every year, more than 2,000 people gather to participate in the U Giro de Natale race for charity.  

The track takes runners and walkers around the Grand Prix circuit, as well as other streets of the Principality, in an event that is more fun than competitive.

Many participants don Santa hats, reindeer ears or other festive garb for the event, which starts and finishes in Port Hercule. 

Lots of runners like to dress up for the event, including this superhero Santa! Photo credit: Claude Eyraud / U Giro de Natale

The beneficiary of this year’s event is the Monaco Liver Disorder, organisation, which raises money to support medical research in the field.

The schedule  

The big day of racing is on Sunday 10th December, but participants can collect their bibs from a dedicated stand in Port Hercule between 10am and 5pm the previous day, as well as from 8am on race day.  

The first race starts at 9am for the littlest – those born between 2013 and 2017. Next, at 9.30am, the junior contestants are up. These are young athletes born between 2009 and 2012.  

The official 10km race, which comes with the chance of winning up to €2,270 in prize money, will start at 10.30am for competitors aged 16 and over.  

There will also be a tombola event offering up some pretty great prizes, including a panoramic flight over Monaco by helicopter, mountain biking excursions and restaurant vouchers.  

For more information, click here


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All photo credits: Claude Eyraud / U Giro de Natale