The pretty Var town of Ollioules has been inducted into the network of the Historic Sites of the Grimaldis of Monaco following a visit from Prince Albert II, who met with villagers and high-fived local schoolchildren.
A visit by Prince Albert II to a small medieval town known for quaint charms such as its olive trees and amazing Romanesque church would be an event in itself, but the Prince coming to honour his family ties is cause for real celebration.
Prince Albert recently spent time in Ollioules in the Var doing just that. He was invited by Mayor Robert Bénéventi, local officials and the people of the village upon learning that an ancestor of the Prince, Charles Grimaldi, the Bishop of Rodez, was buried there in 1770.
To commemorate the visit and the day, a funeral plaque was laid and a ceremony held for the Bishop. A sign indicating that Ollioules is now part of the Historic Sites of the Grimaldis of Monaco network – a collection of towns, villages and cities that have had direct ties to the Grimaldi family over the centuries – was also unveiled.
The Prince clearly enjoyed his visit, meeting with locals and shaking hands whilst heading toward Charles Grimaldi’s former country house, which has since become the town’s school. Upon arrival at the school, 228 children were assembled to greet him. The Prince, as a father of young children himself, was completely at ease, eschewing handshakes for high-fives to the delight of all.
Prince Albert made mention of the former home now being a seat of education, saying, “I am very happy that what was the Grimaldi country house is now a school because our gaze towards history only has meaning if it helps us to project ourselves to the future and transmit its reason for living to our youth.”
Olives are a key feature of the Ollioules landscape and were on the mind of the Sovereign, who spoke about the “symbolism of peace of the branches of the olive tree”.
“I will also underline the importance of the roots of this tree, which expresses the longevity of memory and the strength of memory and fidelity. For it is indeed fidelity that brings us together here in the finest tradition of southern sociability,” he added.
Before his departure, he was made an honorary citizen of the town by the mayor, who offered him an olive tree as a remembrance gift.
“I will remember above all, the symbolism of peace of the olive branches; a peace that is not a given, unfortunately. Never take it for granted,” the Prince summarised.
In all, it was a day the people of Ollioules will not soon forget.
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Photos courtesy of Mika Alesi and the Palais Princier de Monaco