Blue Flag: French Riviera beaches among the cleanest in the country 

blue flag beaches

More than 90 beaches in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region, which has a coastline stretching from Menton in the east to the Camargue Regional Nature Park in the west, have been awarded a prestigious Blue Flag for the 2024 summer season. 

Every year, the Foundation for Environmental Education awards beaches deemed compatible with the worldwide organisation’s “stringent environmental, educational, safety and accessibility criteria” with the Blue Flag label, known in French as the Pavillon Bleu.  

Some 91 beaches in the PACA region have earned a Blue Flag this year. In the Alpes-Maritimes, 24 beaches in towns and cities including Nice, Antibes and Cannes will be able to proudly fly their Blue Flag this summer, while an impressive 45 beaches in the Var have been recognised for their efforts.  

Seven ports in the Alpes-Maritimes, such as the Port de Plaisance in Cap d’Ail, the Marina Baie des Anges, Port Camille Rayon in Golfe-Juan, Cannes’ two ports and Port de La Napoule, have also been awarded a Blue Flag. In the Var, the number of ports and harbours with a Blue Flag for 2024 rises to 15. 

See more: The secret beaches in Monaco you might not have heard of

To be considered for a Blue Flag, sites must pass through a rigorous test with 50 benchmark standards that include waste and water management, the cleanliness of bathing water, gentle mobility and environmental education, to name a few. 

In total, 398 French beaches have been rewarded with the Pavillon Bleu label this year, as well as 106 marinas. PACA was the second-highest scoring region after Occitanie.  

For a full list of all the 2024 laureates, click here


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Photo source: Catalina Fedorova, Unsplash

Monaco Grand Prix: Max Verstappen fields questions from his youngest fans

Despite the torrential rain and threatening thunderclouds, hundreds of fans turned out to see their idol, Formula 1 driver Max Verstappen, on stage at the Monaco Grand Prix Fan Zone, including many young children, who had plenty of questions for the leader of the 2024 Drivers’ Standings.  

During the afternoon of Thursday 23rd May, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen took time out of his busy schedule to make an appearance Monaco Grand Prix Fan Zone on its first day of events.  

Among those who turned out to see him were dozens of young children. They were given pride of place alongside the main stage, safely shielded from the crowds by security in a special zone earmarked just for them.  

Upon arriving, the 26-year-old Dutchman headed straight for the Red Bull simulators to set a race time for the public to try and beat over the course of the weekend. He crossed the finish in a time of around 1.11.40. 

He later joked on stage, “I’m not very good at the game.” 

Max Verstappen completed several laps of the Monaco Grand Prix circuit on the Red Bull simulators. Photo by Monaco Life

With their raincoats on and parents hovering above with umbrellas, the children then got a front seat view of the leading driver in the 2024 World Championship as he fielded questions submitted by them earlier in the day.  

One of the first questions posed was about his first ever road car – a Renault Clio RS. The 26-year-old laughed as he explained how he had received the car as a gift when he was 17, but was unable to legally drive it for much of the first year he had the car as he was still a minor and didn’t yet have his driving licence. 

He was also quizzed on his biggest source of support and inspiration, and he made it clear how important his parents have been to him and his success over the years.

“I was surrounded by my family,” he said on stage. “When I came home, we talked a lot about racing… My father supported me a lot, financially but also in terms of sports. He was my mechanic but also my engine tuner. We basically did everything together… [He was] my taxi driver getting to Italy (for Toro Rosso). For sure, I have a lot to thank him for.” 

He added, “My mom also helped me… She understood exactly what needed to be done… My parents are divorced and normally you live with your mother, but I lived with my father. Not that it was a problem for me, but my mother didn’t see me a lot because of that, and yeah, we were travelling a lot all over Europe to try to reach F1. She understood that, and I think it helped a lot that she was a racer herself.” 

Verstappen went on to say that, despite all of the experience he had accumulated over the years and his many races and wins, his mother is still nervous when it comes to Race Day.” 

“Every weekend that I race, I know she [goes] to church to light a candle” he shared with the crowd.  

He later signed autographs for the children watching on before heading off to continue his preparations for the 81st Monaco Grand Prix on Sunday 26th May.  

To see more of Max Verstappen in the Fan Zone, watch the Monaco Life Instagram reel below:



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Photos by Monaco Life




BioDivMed mission along France’s Mediterranean coast returns “positive and encouraging” results

The 2023 BioDivMed Mission saw a coalition of regional organisations and higher education establishments come together to track and make an inventory of all coastal marine species living in the waters off the southern French shoreline and Corsica. The results have been deemed “positive and encouraging”, but the group has also identified areas for improvement.  

In line with the French government’s National Biodiversity Strategy for 2030, the 2023 BioDivMed Mission’s primary task was to create the first-ever standardised scientific inventory of marine life in a vast triangular zone that encompasses the entire French Mediterranean coast and the waters around Corsica. This area includes the Pelagos Sanctuary, a marine mammal protection zone established in 1999 through a pioneering international agreement between Monaco, France and Italy. 

The initial findings from this ambitious mission have just been released. They paint a generally positive picture of the health of the coastline’s biodiversity, particularly when it comes to the wealth of fish and shellfish living in these waters.  

“We are surprised and pleased to discover new remarkable habitats with high densities of threatened species, even though they are not necessarily protected sites,” says David Mouillot, one of the scientific coordinators working on the project. “This inventory is currently enabling us to draw up an initial overview and develop several biodiversity indicators. These will serve as a dashboard for local stakeholders and provide valuable decision-making aids in fighting pollution and defining new marine reserves, whether temporary or permanent.” 

See more: Monaco Explorations prepares for Greek Odyssey mission

Despite the positive findings, some areas were found to be “devoid of vulnerable species”, meaning that some native species may have already disappeared from these waters.  

To address this, the next mission, set to start this year and run for four years, will establish several Marine Biodiversity Sentinel Sites (MBSS) between Menton, Banyuls-sur-Mer and Corsica. These sites will be guided by the OceanoScientific eDNA Mediterranean Expedition 2024, which is being led by OceanoScientific, a Nice-based collaborator in the BioDivMed Mission. 

In addition to OceanoScientific, the BioDivMed Mission was supported by various partners, including the Rhône Mediterranean Corsica Water Agency, MARBEC Joint Research Unit-University of Montpellier, the Centre d’Écologie Fonctionnelle et Évolutive de Montpellier, SPYGEN, Andromède Océanologie and the philanthropic association We Are Méditerranée. 

Read related:

Monaco first in EU to ratify UN High Seas Treaty on protections outside national jurisdictions


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Photo credit: OceanoScientific

‘Star Wars: The Acolyte’ actor Lee Jung-jae to attend Monte-Carlo Television Festival 

Following the launch of ‘Star Wars: The Acolyte’ on Disney+ in early June, one of its leading stars, Lee Jung-jae, has confirmed that he will be making an appearance at the Monte-Carlo Television Festival. 

Star Wars: The Acolyte, the latest addition to the Star Wars franchise, is due to launch on Disney+ on 4th June, and the Monte-Carlo Television Festival will have the honour of hosting one of the new series’ Jedi Masters, Lee Jung-jae, during the course of the event.

The 51-year-old South Korean actor is best known for his role as Seong Gi-hun, also known as Player 456, in the critically acclaimed dystopian drama Squid Game. His performance won him the Emmy Award for Best Actor in a Drama Series, making him the first non-native English-speaking actor to earn the accolade.  

In Star Wars: The Acolyte, Jung-jae will be playing a Jedi Master who must face off against an enemy from his past after a string of heinous crimes are committed.  

The LucasFilm-backed series also stars Amandla Stenberg, Manny Jacinto, Dafne Keen, Charlie Barnett, Jodie Turner-Smith, Rebecca Henderson, Dean-Charles Chapman, Joonas Suotamo and Carrie-Anne Moss, and was created by Leslye Headland, based on George Lucas’s popular Star Wars franchise.  

“We are honoured that Lee Jung-jae and the Disney+ team will join us next month,” says Cécile Menoni, Executive Director of the Monte-Carlo Television Festival. “The Principality is delighted to welcome such a distinguished actor and to support this unique media event. Lee Jung-jae’s participation underscores the Festival’s commitment to celebrating excellence in television and cinema. His presence will undoubtedly attract fans and media from around the world, providing a fabulous opportunity for attendees to meet one of the industry’s most globally esteemed talents.” 

The Monte-Carlo Television Festival will be taking place at the Grimaldi Forum between 14th and 18th June.

Read related:

Kevin Costner and Morgan Freeman’s new TV series to open Monte-Carlo Television Festival 


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Photo credit: 2024 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM, All Rights Reserved