by Maria Bruni
MONACO. After some trips since 1982 – when he was hereditary Prince or at the beginning of his reign – in 2011 H.S.H. Prince Albert II decided to visit more regularly the French and the Italian ancient possessions of the Grimaldi family. The direct result was that in 2015 Jean-Claude Guibal, Deputy Mayor of Menton, and President of the France-Monaco Friendship Group of the National Assembly, took the initiative to create a network associating the Grimaldis’ old fiefs in France and in Italy, with the Monaco Sovereign support.
The year 2015 was also the 300th anniversary of the Alliance between the Grimaldi and Matignon’s Houses. Yet on April 27, 2011, the Monaco Sovereign went to Normandy to visit fiefs resulting from the marriage, in 1715, of the Princess Louise-Hippolyte of Monaco (1697-1731) with Jacques IV of Matignon (1689-1751), Prince of Monaco from 1731 to 1733 under the name of James I. Also, on July 6, 2012, H.S.H. the Prince was welcomed at Cap Fréhel to inaugurating the exhibition “The princes of Monaco in Brittany. From Matignon to Grimaldi”, prepared by the Association of Friends of the Past in the Pays de Matignon, in collaboration with the Palais Archives. More recently, on September 19th, 2015, H.S.H. the Prince was greeted in Paris at the Hôtel de Matignon, on the occasion of the Heritage Days and the Tercentenary of the marriage of the Princess Louise-Hippolyte of Monaco with Jacques IV of Matignon (the contract was signed at Versailles on September 5, 1715). The Matignon Hotel was the Parisian residence of the princes of Monaco throughout the 18th century. A Monegasque stamp representing the Hôtel de Matignon was issued on the occasion of the princely visit.
On the Heritage Day in Monaco, on 18 October 2015, the Palais Archives presented an exhibition entitled “The Matignon Hotel, collection space of the princes of Monaco in the 17th and 18th centuries”. More than a hundred municipalities in France and Italy share history with the Grimaldi Family. The association is looking forward to communicating the old ties of France, Italy and the Principality of Monaco. It aims to put together and promote these sites both culturally and in the tourism sector. The Official launch of the Association of Grimaldi Historic Sites of Monaco took place on 10th July 2015, in the presence of H.S.H. The Sovereign Prince Albert II of Monaco at the Palais de Carnolès in Menton. On October 3rd of the same year, the common story of the Dorias of Dolceacqua (Liguria, Italy) and of the Grimaldis of Monaco was sealed by the H.S.H. Prince Albert II official visit in Dolceacqua. The history of the two families is made of well-defended harbours and fortresses, commercial areas such as Genoa, of coastal sailings between Provence and Liguria, inland trails and roads yet existing, “The Monaco economic fortune has generated a virtuous growth throughout the border since the 60s, until more recent times, up to the important donation by the Monegasque Government to complete the cycle path that connects Dolceacqua to Ventimiglia and the constant indirect communication that boosts tourism in the Ligurian town”. Dolceacqua’s Mayor Fulvio Gazzola said.
A very important moment occurred on mid October 2015, when the Association of Friends of the Past in the Pays de Matignon made a trip to Monaco as part of the 300th anniversary of Louise Hippolyte Grimaldi’s wedding with Jacques de Matignon. The association paid a visit to Menton and was welcomed by the Deputy Mayor. Then, from November 19th 2015, day of the Monegasque national holiday, the historic municipalities have been invited to hoist the Monegasque flag. Since 2015 Mur-de-Barrez hosted some important events, like from 12e to 15th May 2016, the Cycling Tour Mur-de-Barrez – Principality of Monaco; in Spring 2017, the Equestrian hike Mur-de-Barrez – Principality of Monaco and, on July 8th / 9th, the 3rd meeting of the groups “La Barézienne” of Mur-de-Barrez and “The children of Aramon-Festijaires” of Les Baux de Provence-Aramon in Carladez was under the support of the Princely Governement. Back to the year 2016, on June 6/7, 2016 the Sovereign Prince moved to Alsace, in the territory of Belfort.
On 4th July, 2016 in Granville, Prince Albert II has given the start of the 3rd stage of the Tour de France. On September 17-18, 2016 the Sovereign inaugurated the Exhibition “The Grimaldi Saga of Beuil” in the Chapel of the Penitents. On May 31st, 2017, the inauguration of multimedia rooms about the Grimaldis and the Dorias was held at the Dolceacqua Castle. “This exhibition – Dolceacqua’s Mayor Fulvio Gazzola said, – wants to thank the Grimaldi family, the Principality and the Monegasques. Both Monaco and Dolceacqua Governments have a comprehensive, carefully planned heritage policy. They treat heritage issues as a priority. Preserving, promoting and making the heritage more accessible is central to developing this essential aspect of cultural policy.” The celebrations of the Grimaldi Association of the Historic Sites Of Monaco continued on 3/5 July, when H.S.H. the Sovereign Prince visited some fiefs in the South-West (Duras, Bordeaux). A moving moment happened in Grasse on September 26th when Prince Albert was for the first time on an official visit to Grasse. In the footsteps of his mother the Monaco Sovereign inaugurated the Rose Garden, planted in tribute to Princess Grace at the MAHP. “What is so special about a rose that is much more than a flower? Maybe it’s the joy a rose is always giving.” Albert said. Then, he paid tribute to the religious monument in which his ancestor, bishop of Grasse, officiated in the Middle Ages, before entering the Museum of Art and History of Provence. It was here that her mother, Princess Grace, had spent an evening in January 1964 while presiding over the first literary festival.
In Italy, the fiefs towns of Mazzarino, Modica, and Santa Caterina will forever remember the friendly visit with historical and environmental motivations of the Sovereign Prince that took place from 9 to 11 October 2017. In each of these cities, H.S.H. the Prince was greeted with enthusiastic fervour by the hundreds of people who came to meet him. H.S.H. the Prince was made honorary citizen of the towns of Santa Caterina Villarmosa and Mazzarino. In Modica, where Agostino Grimaldi settled in the 16th century, the Sovereign Prince visited in particular the Grimaldi Foundation, which supports cultural and social initiatives for young people to promote scientific research. H.S.H. the Prince visited several sites and monuments bearing the red and white emblem ― argent and gules ― attesting to the Grimaldi ancestors’ common roots in Sicily. He encouraged the cities to join the Grimaldi de Monaco Historic Sites Association founded in 2015.
It was the case of Antibes’ infos as Historic Site on 30 March 2018. On 18th April, 2018 the inauguration in Menton of the installation of the first nameplate of Grimaldi Historic Sites that took place in the presence of S.A.S. Prince Albert II strengthen the ties of the two towns. Finally, on 23 and 24 June, 2018, the 1st Meeting of the Grimaldi of Monaco Historic Sites took place in the Place du Palais. In honour of Hereditary Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriella, the Marquisate of Les Baux and the County of Carlades have been invited, corresponding to the territories of which the Royal Children respectively bear the title. The city of Menton, which for five centuries was part of the Principality, has also been on the guest list.
These ancient “fiefdoms” presented the history that links them to the Principality and the Grimaldi dynasty, as well as their cultural and craft heritage. In the afternoons, activities for children and adults have been proposed – medieval combats (béhourd), sack races, games with pignata, colouring workshops, trail games, the Game of the Goose, and more. This first meeting has also featured dances, folklore and cultural performances, as well as a variety of workshops – a lavender workshop, making santons (traditional Christmas crèche figures), pruning citrus fruit, stone carving, a ceramic workshop and making cabrettes (a type of musical instrument).