31 December 2007

Roquebrune village - 5

On the road that leads from the village to the donkey track down to Menton is one of the most remarkable trees in France. This is a must for all visitors to the village, although for me, there isn't a corner of this beautiful village that isn't worth visiting. Known as the Olivier Millénaire - the 1000 year old olive tree - it is thought to be nearer to 2000 years old according to the tourist office of Roquebrune-cap-Martin, who write:

'The roots, like those of the Mathusalem de Provence, extend 20 meters in diameter. Olive trees were probably introduced to France by the Phœnicians 3000 years ago, but this tree was more likely planted by the Romans in the year 400.'

I also took the following information from a website called Venerable Trees of the Earth.

'The tree was, in the 19th century, the property of the Vial brothers, called 'the dragons, the loggers, bonesetters and poachers.' They were determined to cut it down but Gabriel Hanotaux, the French politician and historian (1853 - 1944) intervened. He happened to be passing and was entranced by the beauty of the tree and bought it from the Vial brothers. It still belongs to his descendants but it is the municipality who care for it.' There is a street in the village called avenue Gabriel Hanotaux - seemingly, he invited Clémenceau, Poincaré and Briand to admire the beauty of this olive tree.

The hanging cage, by the way, contains a crèche - Roquebrune village is famous for its beautiful and varied cribs at Christmas.

30 December 2007

Roquebrune village - 4

This is part of rue du Château which leads to the Xth century Château - built in 970 by Conrad 1st, Count of Ventimiglia. The castle is the oldest Carolingian fortress in France. I'll write much more about the Château when we visit it. But for tomorrow, I've another surprise - do come back.

29 December 2007

Roquebrune village - 3

It's hard to know where to begin in showing you this beautiful village. Everywhere you look there is beauty and most of all age - you can feel the history in the very stones of this village. Here you see Rue Moncollet - yes, it really is a street that cuts through the rock.

Rue Moncollet is the oldest street in the village and dates back to the 10th century. It's a long narrow street with stepped passageways and is filled with houses from the Middle Ages, many with barred windows.

We have walked just a few metres from the square we were in yesterday.

28 December 2007

Roquebrune village - 2

We've parked below the village and entered the village by the rue Grimaldi and walked between the two pudding stone rocks, the two 'brothers' after whom the square is named - the Place des Deux Frères. Cars can drive up to this Place during certain hours of the day to make deliveries - otherwise you walk. If you've ever wondered why the old folk who live in these hill villages live so long - now you know. They walk. In the old days, of course, they would have had donkeys.

You can see the Xth century château (we'll be visiting the château) built into the rock and below it, a restaurant called La Grotte. In shade and closed at the moment, the restaurant is totally carved out of the 'pudding' I spoke of yesterday, hence the name. Even the loo is carved into the rock! They make truly great pizzas at La Grotte and it's a really buzzing little restaurant/bar - and it's great fun, sitting outside under the awnings, eating and drinking with friends.

Behind us, and way below is the sea, with stunning panoramic views of Monaco, the Cabbé and Cap Martin. To our left is the hotel/restaurant, Les Deux Frères, which serves excellent food and is a great place to stay. Do come back tomorrow for more.

27 December 2007

Roquebrune village - 1

Menton is surrounded by beautiful Medieval villages, and one of the most beautiful is Roquebrune. You can see an alternative view below. Over the next days let me show you around this village which is perched, 300 metres above the sea and which looks down on the cape or headland called Cap Martin - the area you've seen in many previous postings. Roquebrune-cap-Martin is between Menton and Monte Carlo.

Roquebrune village is built on a sand and pebble conglomerate from the Tertiary period. It's called the pudding and it appears very fragile and soft. However, it is amazingly strong. The whole village stands on this rock with no foundations, the tangled jigsaw of the buildings has held it all together for centuries.

There is a legend that the village of Roquebrune, clinging to the hillside, owes its survival to the fragile broom shrub which, in the 7th century, during a terrible earthquake, stopped its deadly pull towards the sea.

Do come back tomorrow when we'll be in the village itself.

26 December 2007

Little Red Riding Hood

The Jardin de Bioves has been transformed, for Christmas and New Year, into Le Jardin des Délices - (The Garden of Delights). It's a wonderland for children with a little train running through the gardens. There's also a corner for animals. Little Red Riding Hood (such a beautiful child) isn't too sure about the sheep - see second photograph. In fact many people brought bread to feed them. Goodness knows if bread is good for sheep? Certainly they wolfed it down. (excuse the pun!)

25 December 2007

Joyeux Noel!

'In the meadow we can build a snowman,
And pretend that he's a circus clown,
We'll have lots of fun with Mister Snowman,
Until the other kids knock him down.'

Happy Christmas everyone! - and thank you so much - my esteemed fellow Daily City Photo bloggers - for visiting Menton DP and Monte Carlo DP - for your comments, your encouragement and help and most of all your friendship.

(Photo taken in the Jardin Bioves, Menton - where the whole area has been made into a Christmas Wonderland for children. )

24 December 2007

Christmas Fair - rain!

This was yesterday - the Christmas market in the rain. You can just see one of the steeples of the Old Town in the misty background. Today, happily, the rain has gone away, the sea is dark blue, the sky clear and bright - and the market traders will hopefully have a better time of it. It's unusual to have rain here at Christmas. Normally, you can eat Christmas lunch on the terrace but this year it's rather chilly for the south of France.

23 December 2007

Tai Chi

This gentleman isn't worried about last minute shopping for Christmas. He's not worried about the rain either. He was totally concentrated - oblivious to passers-by as he did his Tai Chi this morning. You can see Cap Martin in the background.

22 December 2007

Give a dog a bone...

This Brittany spaniel is waiting outside the kitchen entrance to a restaurant at the base of the Old Town. I can only imagine his owner works there or is delivering something. Give the dog a bone!

You can see what a beautiful face this dog has by clicking on the link.

21 December 2007

Christmas Fair - Santons

Santons are small figurines made of terracotta and can be purchased painted or unpainted. They are used to build nativity scenes and are a traditional product of the Provence area of France. Menton has its own santonnier with an atelier in the Old Town.

The santon comes from the Provençal santoun or 'little saint' and the figures became popular during the French Revolution when the churches were closed and the larger traditional nativity scenes in churches prohibited. Smaller figures began appearing in homes and quickly gained popularity.

Apart from the standard figures and animals associated with the nativity (including elephants and camels), there are countless other santons depicting traditional characters from Provençal village life, including the motley fool, the miller and the blind man.

You saw a different style of santon in yesterday's post.

20 December 2007

Christmas Fair - La Cave de Gorbio

This is Frederique - and below you can see her shop in the Christmas Fair of Menton, which is set up between the sea and the market. I have a particularly soft spot for Frederique because she lives in Gorbio, where I live. She has the only shop in the village apart from the grocer's shop and she's worked incredibly hard over the years to make her business a success. She's always smiling - just like this. Christmas is her big time, when she always hopes to make the majority of her money - obviously she has far more visitors to this shop than come to the village. The small figures you see in front of her are santons. Tomorrow I'll show you santons from another stall in the Christmas Fair and will write about them then.

19 December 2007

The mystery of the finger nails

Do blow up this photograph and take a look at what the lady has in her hand. She's is in the middle of cutting the man's fingernails. Now I find this rather strange. Here they are sitting on a nice bench by the sea - by Le Bastion, in fact, not far from the main market area. Is this the place to cut fingernails? I have tried to think this through. I don't imagine they live together else surely, if he needs someone to cut his finger nails, then they'd do it at home. And why can't he cut his own fingernails?

Anyone got the answer to this?

18 December 2007

Plage du Golfe Bleu - 5

These guys swoop about and land relatively quickly. I had to rather rush up the beach not to be in the way - so apologies for chopping off the top of the parachute in this photograph. Once he had landed, he immediately turned to face the opposite direction (see second photograph) - so the wind would allow his parachute to collapse onto the beach in a way that made it easy for him to roll up.

If you missed the earlier postings, you can read more on these paragliders who take off from Mont Agel HERE.

If you'd like to see a beautiful golden retriever walking the beach - and later being calmed by his gentle owner whilst one of the paragliders landed, please click on the link.

17 December 2007

16 December 2007


Another photograph from yesterday. Today's Nice-Matin talks about a 'spectaculaire coup de mer' - with the wind reaching 125 kilometres per hour. That's unusual for us, hence front page news in Nice-Matin today!

In fact, today's weather, whilst still cold, is wonderful. Bluest sky again, hardly any wind, so tomorrow - back to the beach in Roquebrune and those paragliders.

15 December 2007


You were promised a paraglider landing on the Plage du Golfe Bleu but as you can see there's been a hiccup in the weather. (I'll show that photograph another day). This is for anyone who thinks Menton always has perfect weather. Today it is very cold with a bitter wind. There's snow on the mountains above Gorbio and as you can see the road along the sea has been closed to traffic.

14 December 2007

Plage du Golfe Bleu - 3

The reason I came down to this particular beach was to photograph the paragliders landing. You may recall I posted some photographs a while back, under the heading Come Fly with Me - those were taken from one of the roads above. Do come back tomorrow and the next day to see a close-up of a landing.

In this photograph you can see some guys packing up their parachutes ready for the long hike back to the van that will take them way, way up to Mont Agel for another flight. Getting to the beach is a hike. You park near to the railway station of Roquebrune-cap-Martin, you walk down a long flight of steps and then under the railway lines and alongside what looks like it was once a river until you get to the beach. And those parachutes, once packed up into rucksacks, look very heavy to me.

13 December 2007

12 December 2007

Plage du Golfe Bleu - 1

Forget the Christmas shopping! Come and spend a few days on the beach. This is the Plage du Golfe Bleu at Roquebrune-cap-Martin - that's the Pointe of Cap Martin in the distance. Menton is the other side of Cap Martin. Monte Carlo is behind us.

I drove down to the beach this morning because I wanted to photograph some of the paragliders landing - and whilst waiting, just enjoyed the beach. Come back for more tomorrow, won't you?

11 December 2007

Christmas Fair - Honey

The Christmas Fair is a great place to buy gifts, the majority of which are created by artisans. You'll not find mass production here. Many stall holders are specialists - here you see part of the honey stall.

Which flavour of honey do you prefer?

10 December 2007

Telethon 2007 - 2

Another event put on by the Pompiers of Menton. I love the idea of being able to whizz down the rope from the top of the fort called the Bastion, which was constructed in 1636. Would you like to do this?

You can see the Firemen on top of the Bastion securing the ropes ready for the day's events.

09 December 2007

Christmas Fair - Pots

You want a pot? Look no further. Come to Menton. Every December the area near to beach and the Bastion is covered in pots of every shape you could dream of - they come from north Africa - I think probably Morocco and are part of the Christmas Fair which is over to the right of these photographs and which I'll show you another day.

You can see Cap Martin in the distance in the first two photos and in the third photo, you'll recognise the steeples of the Old Town.

08 December 2007

Téléthon 2007

Téléthon 2007 takes place today. Tonight there will be a programme on television to raise money for charity.

The other day I noticed these great mounds of sand had been dumped on the beach. Today I know why. The firemen of Menton were responsible for the sand and today they are giving disabled children very bumpy rides in their 4 x 4s. Whether or not the children you see in the front seat are disabled or not, I don't know, as this ride took place before the official opening.

07 December 2007

Rue Longue - 7

This restaurant, A Braijade Meridiounale is at the restored end of rue Longue. Do click on the link to read more about this restaurant. I've not eaten there, but intend to rectify that soon! The menu sounds delicious. You can see a different shot of this restaurant in yesterday's post (on the left) which shows you its location in rue Longue, not far from Porte Saint-Julien.

06 December 2007

Rue Longue - 6

Today we are looking back at the Porte Saint-Julien you saw yesterday. In this part of rue Longue the road works are finished and I see Father Christmas is attempting to get in on the right above the sign Le Palais des Princes.

Le Palais des Princes was built in the 15th century for Jean 1er Grimaldi and was totally restored in 1650 by Prince Honoré II of Monaco. The building was a replacement for the ancient citadelle which was destroyed in war. Later, in the 18th century, its use was transferred to the Palais Carnoles, which is now a museum with a beautiful garden specialising in citrus. This is over the other side of town and I'll be taking you there one of these fine days.

Tomorrow, we'll look at a restaurant in rue Longue.

05 December 2007

Rue Longue - 5

This is the entrance to rue Longue and the Old Town, from the eastern end, Porte Saint-Julien. You can see the entrance at the south-western end, Porte Saint-Antoine, by clicking on the link. Rue Longue (in fact 270 metres long) is the main street of the Old Town and follows the old Roman road, originally called the Via Aurelia.

This end of rue Longue has been restored but the chaos we saw yesterday (out of shot in this photo) will continue till at least until summer 2008. Originally it was thought that the work would take 13 months but unsurprisingly it will take longer. Some of the underground channels date back to the early 1900s and when dug up, it was discovered that more specialists were needed to put them right. All this work, which is a continuation of restoration of another road, rue de Bréa, is at a cost of 1.7 million euros.

Tomorrow I'll show you more of the restored part of rue Longue.

04 December 2007

Rue Longue - 4

Residents and visitors have to pass on the left. I know this horrifies some visitors, who come from countries where litigation appears to be the norm, but when you are used to walking on bumpy roads, I suppose we are just careful and if we fall, it's our fault for not watching out! As for all those cables - I'm assuming those will be hidden when the work is done, or, at least they'll be fixed properly to the walls.

I presume we are looking at sewerage construction here but not being an expert on the subject - she said, with relief - I really don't know. It did smell a little strange.

Tomorrow I'll show you the other end of Rue Longue where the work appears to be finished.

03 December 2007

Rue Longue - 3

A longer shot of Rue Longue - as you can see, the underneath of the street has been opened up for new sewers, electrics, etc. I gather this is all part of bringing life to this street. There is a butcher, a couple of art galleries and two restaurants but the idea is for the street to become much more commercial.

02 December 2007

Rue Longue - 2

Rue Longue is the street that runs the length of the Old Town. From this street rise all the little ruelles that make up this beautiful part of Menton. At the moment, Rue Longue is undergoing renovations. Residents have to walk on planks and sheets of wood to get around. I don't imagine anyone lives in this house or at least the door looks as if it's not been used for a long time. You can see another view of Rue Longue by clicking on the link.

01 December 2007

Daily Photo Theme Day: Bridges

If you live in the south of France - towards Italy - where the Alpes come down to the sea, you can't avoid the autoroute. Endless tunnels, on both sides of the border, were cut through the mountains. Bridges were built to join tunnel to tunnel, such as this one which spans part of the Gorbio valley above Menton. The autoroute in the south of France was finished around 1977.

Hardly beautiful and not known as a bridge - just the autoroute - but as I said, part of life here and at least it keeps through traffic from clogging up the lower corniches more that it does. Also, an amazing feat of engineering.

Today is Theme Day for the Daily Photo Family with over 120 of us posting photographs of a bridge from our city or town. Do take time to visit and enjoy:

Boston (MA), USA - San Diego (CA), USA - Stayton (OR), USA - New York City (NY), USA - Portland (OR), USA - Montego Bay, Jamaica - Inverness (IL), USA - Singapore, Singapore - Stockholm, Sweden - Setúbal, Portugal - Brussels, Belgium - Phoenix (AZ), USA - Seattle (WA), USA - Hyde, UK - Manila, Philippines - Fort Lauderdale (FL), USA - London, England - Austin (TX), USA - Toulouse, France - Weston (FL), USA - Sesimbra, Portugal - Selma (AL), USA - Silver Spring (MD), USA - Saarbrücken, Germany - Cleveland (OH), USA - Crystal Lake (IL), USA - American Fork (UT), USA - Seoul, South Korea - Kyoto, Japan - Tokyo, Japan - Norwich (Norfolk), UK - North Bay (ON), Canada - Arradon, France - Paderborn, Germany - Durban, South Africa - Philadelphia (PA), USA - Cypress (TX), USA - Cottage Grove (MN), USA - Prague, Czech Republic - Portland (OR), USA - Greenville (SC), USA - Boston (MA), USA - Port Angeles (WA), USA - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - Wichita (Ks), USA - Saint Paul (MN), USA - Petaling Jaya (Selangor), Malaysia - Grenoble, France - New York City (NY), USA - Nottingham, UK - Hobart (Tasmania), Australia - Arlington (VA), USA - Minneapolis (MN), USA - Miami (FL), USA - Cheltenham, UK - Albuquerque (NM), USA - Saratoga Spgs. (NY), USA - Las Vegas (NV), USA - Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina - Nashville (TN), USA - Toruń, Poland - New Orleans (LA), USA - Port Elizabeth, South Africa - Melbourne, Australia - Moscow, Russia - Trujillo, Peru - Château-Gontier, France - Quincy (MA), USA - Melbourne, Australia - Port Vila, Vanuatu - Joplin (MO), USA - Bellefonte (PA), USA - Brookville (OH), USAChateaubriant, France - Chandler (AZ), USA - Stavanger, Norway - Baziège, France - Auckland, New Zealand - Wellington, New Zealand - Ocean Township (NJ), USA - Subang Jaya (Selangor), Malaysia - Detroit (MI), USA - Riga, Latvia - Nelson, New Zealand - Budapest, Hungary - Cape Town, South Africa - Sydney, Australia - Dunedin (FL), USA - Sofia, Bulgaria - Radonvilliers, France - Turin, Italy - Montpellier, France - Kansas City (MO), USA - Minneapolis (MN), USA - Haninge, Sweden - Wailea (HI), USA - Lubbock (TX), USA - Rabaul, Papua New Guinea - Terrell (TX), USA - Mexico City, Mexico - Saint-Petersburg, Russian Federation - Budapest, Hungary - Montréal (QC), Canada - Sharon (CT), USA - Le Guilvinec, France - Jefferson City (MO), USA - Saigon, Vietnam - London, UK - Crepy-en-Valois, France - Orlando (FL), USA - Maple Ridge (BC), Canada - Paris, France - Mainz, Germany - Newcastle (NSW), Australia - Wassenaar (ZH), Netherlands - Menton, France - Monte Carlo, Monaco - Darmstadt, Germany - Naples (FL), USA - Torino, Italy - Saint Louis (MO), USA - Bogor, Indonesia - The Hague, Netherlands - Minneapolis (MN), USA

30 November 2007

Winter days

Today is one of those glorious autumn/winter days - a perfect south of France day. Not too hot, the air is clear, the sea a perfect blue. I walked an old friend to the top of the Old Town - this is taken from just outside the cemetery at the beginning of Boulevard de Garavan - we've yet to explore this beautiful road, but we will, we will. The sea was so still this morning, barely a ripple.

See the pink rocks, almost dead centre in the hillside that rises from the sea. That's Balzi Rossi in Italy - the prehistoric caves we visited recently.

29 November 2007

Crash, bang, wallop...2

So the guys came and chopped up the fallen tree - you can see the end of it in the photo below, lying on the side of the road. In the photo above, this man is cutting down another tree before it falls in the next rains. This is the lower part of what was a wonderful umbrella pine. Such a pity. That's two trees lost on the road above me.

I now realise how lucky I was. When I bought the house, there were two enormous pines directly above it. They needed trimming and the man I got to do it over-trimmed them in what turned out to be the year of the big drought (about 4 or 5 years ago now). They both died and he had to come back the following spring and cut them down to the ground. I was pretty upset at the time. I love trees. Don't we all? But I now realise had they remained in place, they'd probably have fallen onto the roof of my house this year!

28 November 2007

Crash, bang, wallop...

Just to prove it's not all sunshine and beach and beautiful Old Town, this is what happens when we have two days of solid rain, following a long dry spell. Rocks litter the roads, trees fall, electricity lines are cut, Jilly has no internet connection. You'll perhaps remember the rain from the Sospel pics. The day after I took those Sospel photos, a beautiful pine tree fell on the road above my house - here you see a small part of it littering the top of my track: this after the electricity and phone people had come along, chopped up the tree and got everything going again. That's my mailbox on the left, shared with three others in this tiny quartier of ours - the main part of the gone-forever-pine lies on road above, jumbled up with phone and electricity wires.

About four years ago - in November - we had three weeks of rain - many gardens lost a lot of trees, swimming pools went sailing down hillsides and a couple of houses got smashed to bits by water, rocks and debris.

Come back tomorrow and I'll show you what some guys did on the road above me today.

27 November 2007

Come fly with me - 3

Coming in to land... this is the Pointe de Cabbé, which is at the far end of the beach on which the paraglider will land. He looks as if he might be caught up in trees, but he's not. I did get some phots of him landing but they weren't good enough - I was too far away, as you can see by the size of the man on the beach.

Soon, I intend taking the Promenade designed by the celebrated architect, Le Corbusier. He lived in a cabanon on Cap Martin and was tragically drowned whilst swimming. It's a wonderful walk that starts at the point of Cap Martin and goes all the way to Monaco. The walk passes just above the rocks, and if I choose a nice day I'm sure there will be paragliders landing. So more photographs and perhaps a close-up of a landing - one day.
Have you paraglided? Would you like to?

26 November 2007

Come fly with me - 2

Roquebrune-cap-Martin borders Monaco and Menton. In this photo, you see Cap Martin jutting out to sea - the hill village of Roquebrune is higher and off to the left (you saw it yesterday). Behind me is the Principality of Monaco. The other side of Cap Martin, you'll find Menton.

The paragliders land at the Golfe Bleu beach which you see on the lower left of the photograph. You are only allowed to paraglide between the beginning of October and the end of April - and there are very strict rules following the death of a child some years ago. You can read more on the Roquebrunailes page.

Come back tomorrow for the landing!

25 November 2007

Come fly with me - 1

Paragliding (parapente) from Mont Gros is one of the most popular places to practice this sport. Mont Gros is way above the medieval hill village of Roquebrune, which you see in this photograph. Flyers eventually land on the Plage du Golfe Bleu, near to Cap-Martin where a small bus drives them all the way back to Mont Gros to start all over again.

I was driving back from Monaco this morning - you'll note the rain has gone - and the sky was filled with paragliders. Luckily, being a Sunday, I found a place to park and so we'll have a few days of this adventure.

Tomorrow you'll see Cap Martin and the beach when they land. The day after - a landing.

24 November 2007

Gare de Sospel

The railway station at Sospel in the rain - and below the last of the four carriages of the Orient Express - in better condition than the one you saw yesterday. Personally I love the proportions of this railway station, the colour, the shutters, the original name up the top - and on the side (see below). Do you?

23 November 2007

Orient Express

At last! - we've had two days of heavy rain - necessary but perhaps not ideal when making the 20 kilometres trip up the mountain to Sospel. Here you see one of the four carriages of the famous Orient Express train dating from 1929, which are located right by the beautiful Gare de Sospel - I'll show you the railway station tomorrow.

The train ,of course, was immortalised by Agatha Christie - and Hercule Poirot. One carriage is Turkish, from 1949, another was an Italian restaurant car from 1938. Three carriages were restored and used as a restaurant until not so long ago. Now the restaurant is closed and the carriages show more and more signs of neglect. This one is in the worst condition. I heard a rumour it was to be dismantled and removed. I hope not.

The friends I visited yesterday in Sospel, thought the Orient Express was originally bought by an Englishman - later sold to a society who opened the restaurant - but I can't find any confirmation on this.

Tomorrow you'll see the other carriages, which are in better condition, standing alongside the railway station of this beautiful mountain village.

22 November 2007

Giving Thanks

This old Spitz-type dog suffers badly from arthritis so his Italian owners have made this trolley for him. Here he is being pushed along the seafront in Menton, looking bright as a button. Some people go to extraordinary lengths for their animals - the love of a dog and vice versa is what it's all about.

I featured Benny on Riviera Dogs about 10 days ago but with today being Thanksgiving, which isn't celebrated here - except for the ex-pats, of course - it seemed appropriate. And believe me, a shop called Geoffrey's in the port of Antibes, sells everything an ex-pat American could wish for to make their Thanksgiving dinner traditional and perfect. But I digress. So many of us have dogs and so today, Benny represents my Giving Thanks for my dog and all the dogs I've loved in the past.

Happy Thanksgiving to you - wherever you are. And save a piece of pumpkin pie for me, please.

21 November 2007

No Fishing

Part of the old port of Garavan. This is the harbour nearest to the Italian border. To the left and across the road that runs through the port, is the Laverie you saw yesterday.

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