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Monaco Celebrates New Orleans’ Tricentennial

By Nicole Schaller

New Orleans is commemorating its 300th birthday throughout 2018. During the week of Feb. 19 to Feb. 25, Monaco joined the tricentennial celebration by hosting several events in the famed Big Easy. The events focused on shared cultural interests between the tiny European principality and the Louisiana city known for its jazz, gumbo and French-Creole traditions.

"We are thrilled to have the Principality of Monaco participating in the New Orleans Tricentennial," said New Orleans Mayor Mitchell Landrieu. “As we celebrate 300 years of New Orleans, we will be remembering the cultural ties between our city and Monaco.”

Maguy Maccario Doyle, Monaco’s ambassador to the U.S., joined in on the festivities during “Monaco Takes New Orleans” week.

Mark Romig, volunteer president/CEO of the 2018 NOLA foundation that heads the City's 2018 Tricentennial commission with Ambassador Maguy Maccario Doyle. (2018 Embassy of Monaco/Photo: Jeff Strout)

“It’s always a special thrill for me to return to New Orleans, but especially for this momentous occasion as it’s the celebration of the tricentennial for this beautiful city,” said Maccario Doyle at the French Quarter’s NOPSI Hotel on Feb. 21, 2018. “It’s an extra special honor for Monaco to be one of the first countries to pay tribute to the enduring appeal of the Crescent City on its 300th birthday. There are deep special bonds we share with New Orleans that are not well known by the public at large.”

Monaco shares historical royal ties with New Orleans. While most people remember Grace Kelly as the American actress who became princess of Monaco, she was not Monaco’s first American princess. Seventy years prior to Kelly marrying Prince Rainier III, New Orleans-born Marie Alice Heine married Monaco’s Prince Albert I in Paris in 1889, and she became the first American princess of Monaco.

Heine was born in 1858 in the French Quarter of New Orleans. Both her parents were French and moved their family from New Orleans to France after the Civil War ended in 1874. Heine became part of the Parisian art society and was previously married with two children before meeting Monaco’s Prince Albert I in 1879. After marrying the prince, Heine continued to be supportive of the arts. One of her main contributions to Monegasque society included promoting the Opéra de Monte Carlo that had just opened.

Chef Benoit Witz serving hors d'oeuvres at the NOPSI Hotel (2018 Embassy of Monaco/Photo: Jeff Strout)

Beyond the historical connection, Monaco and New Orleans share lively cultures that are passionate in food and arts, which was reflected in the “Monaco Takes New Orleans” events. Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo performed “Roméo et Juliette” on Feb. 24 and hosted a masquerade ball with the New Orleans Ballet Association the day prior at the Hyatt Regency in New Orleans. This was the ballet group’s second time performing in New Orleans, with their first visit taking place almost a decade ago.

The collaborations continued with Monaco’s Michelin-starred chef Benoit Witz and New Orleans NOPSI Hotel executive chef Pete Page creating a Monaco-inspired four-course lunch. The menu was available throughout that week at the Public Service restaurant. The lunch service also featured the national dish of Monaco, Barbagiuan, which is a Swiss chard or squash onion and cheese deep fried pastry.

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards welcomes Prince Albert II of Monaco and Ambassador Maguy Maccario Doyle. (2018 Embassy of Monaco/Photo: Jeff Strout)

In addition, an exhibit of 46 black-and-white photos taken in Monaco in the 1940s and 1950s showed the glamour and wealth of the city-state along the French Riviera, where celebrities still come to vacation and gamble. The event was so popular that the gallery show has been extended to stay open to the public until April at the NOPSI Hotel.

Monaco continued to celebrate New Orleans’s birthday with Prince Albert II visiting on March 17 and 18. Prince Albert II’s visit included him unveiling a plaque in honor of Princess Alice — who is the wife of Prince Albert II’s great-great-grandfather — and her birthplace.

“Part of the joy of working on the tricentennial is the opportunity to discover new things about New Orleans, her history and her role in the world,” said Scott Hutcheson, deputy chief administrative officer and senior advisor to the mayor for cultural economy. “Both Monaco and New Orleans are great tourism destinations rooted in culture.”

Nicole Schaller is an editorial intern at The Washington Diplomat




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