31 October 2007


A cemetery scene. I liked the juxtaposition of the soldier and the soaring cypress, back to back, minding their own business.

30 October 2007

Bare wood and Ivy

Another pretty corner in the Old Town.

28 October 2007

Boy with football

Out of shot is another little boy waiting to receive the ball. Taken near to the Bastion - Italy in the background.

27 October 2007


Yesterday was a big day in France for Harry Potter fans. The 7th and final volume was available in the shops...la magie continue. You can read more - in French - HERE.

I took this photograph in the summer - a boy, in the centre of Menton, entranced.

26 October 2007

Show-off shutters

A pretty window tucked away in a small street near to the market.


Rain! Apart from two days of rain about three weeks ago, this is the first since March or April. How we need it! And how grey and oppressive the village looks in the rain - not that Gorbio has the soft pinks and apricots and terracottas of Menton but there's a gloom to it in the rain, isn't there? I still love it tho!

25 October 2007

Blue door

An unused doorway in the Old Town and a good place to show off a few plants.

24 October 2007

Passing the time

In all the villages and towns around here and across the border in Italy, you'll see older men in groups, chatting and passing the time. You'll see fewer older women because they are at home cooking lunch. Wasn't it ever thus?! These men are sitting at the entrance to the old village of Gorbio.

Do the old men gather in your city or village to chat?

23 October 2007


Autumn days on the Côte d'Azur - here we are on a pebble beach in Roquebrune-cap-Martin looking towards Menton and Italy. This was taken a month ago. To see the sea two days ago please take a look at Monte Carlo Daily Photo.

22 October 2007

Dawn over Menton

The first sign of winter is often an amazing dawn. Normally a massive orange ball in the sky - blinding and impossible to photograph. This one, with cloud, was easier. Taken from my terrace a week or so ago.

21 October 2007

Market produce: Bread

Here you see bread rolls but bread rolls with a difference. These are called grisettes provençales. How about anchovy rolls, fig rolls, rolls with Roquefort cheese and nuts, rolls with goat cheese, pine nuts and mint. There are tomato and pistou rolls, rolls with tapenade, rolls with bacon and gruyère, or with onion or with olives. Are you feeling hungry? How about we order half a dozen - mixed? Take them home with a soft goat's cheese, sun dried tomatoes in oil and a good bottle of rosé - say a Bandol? What do you think?

20 October 2007

Market produce: Mushrooms

It's autumn - and autumn means mushrooms! Glorious wondrous mushrooms. Not cheap, as you see, but so good. Actually I've girolles in my garden but I put my life in danger clambering down the steep hillside to get them so this year they might just have to stay there. What's your favourite mushroom?

19 October 2007

Those steeples

You'll have seen other photos I've posted of these two steeples and you know, they look different each time - depends on angle, light, weather. So here they are again, rising from the Old Town. Click HERE for another view.

18 October 2007

Market building

You saw some of the food on sale last week. Now, here's part of the beautiful market building where you'll find stalls inside and out.

17 October 2007

One Man and his Dog

Man and dog under the old elm in the village square of Gorbio. The elm was planted in 1713.

16 October 2007


Let's look at something glorious!

(Back home from Germany - thanks so much for all the comments whilst I was away).

15 October 2007

Market produce: fish

This lady has a small fish stall outside the market. Fish ranges from the large tuna to the tiniest prawns and always so fresh. I've lived here 16 years and I still don't know half the fish that appear in the markets. My favourites are rouget (red mullet) and loup sauvage (sea bass) - note the word sauvage, as opposed to 'farmed' fish. There is a world of difference!

Each spring, we see tiny, tiny fish for sale - these are poutines and are cooked into a local speciality: l'omelette de poutines.

What's your favourite fish?

14 October 2007

Market produce: preserved fruits

If it's fruit, it can be preserved. Here you'll find preserved pineapple, ginger, kumquats, cherries, oranges, lemons, angelica and more - as well as dates and nuts.

Tomorrow? Come meet the fish lady.

13 October 2007

Market produce: olives

So many olives to delight your palate. You can choose olives with basil, garlic, pimentos, herbes. Some are stuffed, some not. Perhaps the tiny but oh so tasty Niçoise olive. Which would you choose?

The olives are in the middle section of this stall - on the left he sells prepared food like pickled onions, seafood salads, sundried tomatoes in oil, grilled slices of aubergines in oil, pickled cloves of garlic, anchovies - the choice is endless. At the other end, he sells fruit confit. Come back tomorrow and I'll show you the fruit.

12 October 2007

Market produce: cheese

Let's have a few days of Menton market's wonderful food. Today: cheeses - made from the milk of goat, sheep or cow. Top left, look at the round cheese in the centre foreground. This is a Banon from Provence, and is wrapped in chestnut leaves and tied with rafia. Delicious. How many cheeses do you recognise?

Come back tomorrow - we'll be buying some olives.

(I'm in Germany to judge the Old English Sheepdogs at the Bundesseiger show so forgive me, but I won't be able to comment much before getting home on Monday evening. )

11 October 2007


At the Fête de la Branda last Sunday, there were, as always, many stalls selling food: olive oil, olives, goat and sheep cheeses, wonderful breads, honey, charcuterie and so on. The man on the right with the cap on his head is the olive oil man - he lives just below village and produces excellent olive oil and his wife makes home-made jams.

The cages you see on the wall were for sale. I asked him what they were for and he told me for wild birds. 'Why would you keep a wild bird in a cage,' I asked. His reply: 'We keep them there until we're ready to eat them.' I didn't ask how he caught them but presumably with traps - obviously not by shooting, else you'd hardly need a cage, would you?

Later, when I bought some olive oil, he told me he'd sold the cages...oh dear.

10 October 2007

Velo Club de Menton

At the Fête de la Branda in Gorbio, there is always much more going on than the actual distillation of the Branda. This year, cyclists from the Velo Club de Menton were out in force. Here you see them gathered around the old elm tree (planted in 1713) along with a couple of old men watching the proceedings.

09 October 2007

Fête de la Branda

On Sunday we had the Fête de la Branda in the village. Probably my favourite Gorbio fête day and always held in October. Branda is the Provençal word for marc, the marc de Provence, which actually has two meanings: either the fermented grape pulp, seeds, and stems that remain after the grapes are pressed for their juice, or the actual potent distilled alcohol. The word comes from the Old French marchier, to trample. I've written at length on my Postcards blog about last year's Fete de la Branda with many more photographs and a detailed explanation of the process.

The right to distil passes through a family, and in Gorbio, this right is held by two brothers. I only saw one of them this year, so I hope the other one is alright as they are both getting on in age. Don't you think this brother looks rather like Popeye! He loves having his photograph taken and has appeared in magazines and television programmes that cover this annual event. He's holding a plate of socca which he'll eat for his lunch. You can read about socca on the above link too.

Do come back over the next few days and I'll show you more photographs taken at the Fête de la Branda.

08 October 2007

Villa Sans Nom

This intrigued me. The House With No Name! An old boy walked out of the front door just after I took this photo but he couldn't enlighten me. Just said the house is very old. It's located in a small street just across from the Museum of Regional Pre-history which I'll show you another time.

Got me thinking about house names and why we choose them? My house is called Lou Milou. Lou is Provençal for 'the' or 'le.' And Milou - well Milou was the dog of my life, an American cocker spaniel, who is now running around in doggy heaven, chasing his ball. What's your house - or apartment building? - called - and why?

07 October 2007

About turn

After yesterday's 'dark and stormy' photo, let's turn around and look in the opposite direction. I'm still standing by Le Bastion, but here you see Cap Martin in the distance, low cloud hangs over the hills.

In yesterday's photo, by showing you only rough rocks, sea and fort it was all rather foreboding. Now this is a little more cheerful, isn't it? The thing is, the two photos were taken exactly one minute apart yet give a completely different atmosphere, don't they?

06 October 2007

Le Bastion, musée Jean Cocteau - 2

The view across to Italy, with a corner of Le Bastion, built in 1619, on the left. You can see another view of this building, now a museum dedicated to Jean Cocteau, at THIS LINK.

05 October 2007

The Ruins of the Château

So here we are at the ruins of the Château. I was surprised, when I got here, to see a man selling entrance tickets. I don't mean I was surprised that tickets were on sale, but that someone should be way up here, all day long, waiting for the few visitors who come here. Perhaps it's a way of guarding artifacts.

The first record of Sainte Agnès (Sancta Agneta) was in 1150, when it was ruled by the Counts of Ventimiglia - in 1258 it passed to the Counts of Provence.

THIS WEBSITE gives the full history of the village, right back to Neolithic times - but you need to read French. If you don't speak French, it really is worth looking at tho just for the photographs as you go through the various centuries.

04 October 2007

Walk to the Château ruins

Here's a collage of the walk to the Château. It's quite a hike and we'll need to stop for a rest every few minutes - at least I did. Start at 'top left' with the sign. The second photo shows a quite gentle walk, but then it gets steeper (bottom left) and we finish at cross. Thank goodness for the iron railings! Tomorrow: the ruins. Phew...time for a rest I think.

03 October 2007

Bird's eye view

Here we are looking down on the village of Sainte Agnès. I'm about half way up the track to the ruins of the château. To the right of the photo, you can see the cemetery. That in itself is higher than the village. Come back tomorrow and share the walk with me. It's steep!

02 October 2007


Renovating a house in a hill village is no easy task. All the materials need to be brought up from Menton or Nice. All rubble needs to be removed and taken down the valley. In the old days, of course, donkeys were used. See the donkey track from Sainte Agnès to Menton - a two-hour journey.

Nowadays, renovation means the workmen need to walk up and down the narrow, steep streets, moving materials, little by little. In addition, if scaffolding is used, then inevitably you'll need your neighbour's house to provide some of the support. Hopefully you get on with your neighbour!

And the cost of all this - well, it's not cheap - and it's slow.

01 October 2007

Daily Photo Theme Day: Cemeteries/Tombstones

Readers of this blog will know how much I love Menton's beautiful cemetery, located above the Old Town and with a view of the sea, the mountains and Italy. Many Russian and British aristocracy have found their final resting place here.

Menton, with its micro-climate, was a popular destination for sufferers of tuberculosis who now lie in this graveyard, all dying far too young. It's a fascinating place to explore especially in this year of the Rugby World Cup as you'll find, at this link, the grave of William Webb-Ellis, inventor of Rugby.

Today, being the 1st of the month, is Daily Photo Theme Day. Do please take time to visit the other cities in the Daily Photo family taking part in today's theme:

St. Louis (MO), USA - San Diego (CA), USA - Cleveland (OH), USA - New York City (NY), USA - Boston (MA), USA - Mainz, Germany - Hyde, UK - Arlington (VA), USA - Cape Town, South Africa - Saint Paul (MN), USA - Toulouse, France - Arradon, France - Menton, France - Monte Carlo, Monaco - Montego Bay, Jamaica - Ampang (Selangor), Malaysia - Joplin (MO), USA - Cottage Grove (MN), USA - Bellefonte (PA), USA - Mexico (DF), Mexico - Seattle (WA), USA - Baziège, France - Baltimore (MD), USA - Chandler (AZ), USA - Sequim (WA), USA - Stayton (OR), USA - Stockholm, Sweden - Austin (TX), USA - Singapore, Singapore - Greenville (SC), USA - Wassenaar (ZH), Netherlands - Nashville (TN), USA - Tenerife, Spain - Manila, Philippines - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - Jacksonville (FL), USA - River Falls (WI), USA - Chateaubriant, France - Quincy (MA), USA - Rabaul, Papua New Guinea - Buenos Aires, Argentina - Crystal Lake (IL), USA - Inverness (IL), usa - Lubbock (TX), USA - Phoenix (AZ), USA - Moscow, Russia - Norwich (Norfolk), UK - Crepy-en-Valois, France - Minneapolis (MN), USA - New Orleans (LA), USA - Montréal (QC), Canada - West Sacramento (CA), USA - Toruń, Poland - Philadelphia (PA), USA - Christchurch, New Zealand - London, England - Paderborn, Germany - The Hague, Netherlands - Selma (AL), USA - Sunderland, UK - Kyoto, Japan - Tokyo, Japan - Stavanger, Norway - Fort Lauderdale (FL), USA - Weston (FL), USA - Portland (OR), USA - Forks (WA), USA - Saint-Petersburg, Russian Federation - Maple Ridge (BC), Canada - Boston (MA), USA - Sydney, Australia - Wellington, New Zealand - Montpellier, France - Jackson (MS), USA - Wailea (HI), USA - Petaling Jaya (Selangor), Malaysia - Evry, France - Saarbrücken, Germany - New York City (NY), USA - Santa Fe (NM), USA - North Bay (ON), Canada - Melbourne, Australia - Port Vila, Vanuatu - Cypress (TX), USA - Saint Louis (MO), USA - Paris, France - San Diego (CA), USA - Wichita (Ks), USA - Haninge, Sweden - Prague, Czech Republic - Zurich, Switzerland - Budapest, Hungary - Paris, France - Saigon, Vietnam

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