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.

20 November 2007


This Laverie (laundry) is one of many shops and restaurants that line the beautiful old Port of Garavan. These two men - plus bikes - could be in a country village in the middle of France somewhere, couldn't they? Well, except for the palm just showing and the oleander to the left! I would imagine the Laverie is mostly used by the yachties who live on their boats in the harbour.

19 November 2007

The caves of Balzi Rossi - 7

Our last day - perhaps not a spectacular photograph but I wanted to show you how far we've walked. We started at the museum itself, which is the cream coloured, flat-roofed building you see on the left of the photo, nearest to camera - then we walked up the ramp and crossed the railway lines - and then up steps, up slopes, up more steps and more slopes - the end of which you can see on the right of this photograph. So didn't we do well? You'll see another photo of the first of the two museum buildings below and, of course, you see Menton in the background. Thank you so much to everyone who has taken this little tour with me. Tomorrow we'll cross the border as we make our way back to Menton.

18 November 2007

The caves of Balzi Rossi - 6

This is the Bauma Grande cave where the famous 'triple burial' was discovered - you can't visit this cave though.
The Grimaldi Venus, fashioned in serpentine and depicting a pregnant woman.

Horse engraving in one of the caves

This is the last of our visit to the Balzi Rossi caves - however, I've just one more photograph that shows you just how far we've walked. So come back tomorrow - and after that - we'll go back to Menton!

17 November 2007

The caves of Balzi Rossi - 5

We've passed the sandy entrance to the cave now. Here's where you climb in to a deep dark scary place. As I wrote in 'Postcards from Pension Milou' I didn't have a torch or a dog to protect me from the ghosts of the prehistoric creatures, so I bottled out...

Between 1883 and 1895, Louis Alexandre Jullien discovered fifteen figurines at the Balzi Rossi. This is the largest series ever found in one place in Western Europe, and the pieces can be traced back to the Gravettian chronology and culture. Seven of the figurines were displayed in an exhibition at the Canadian Museum of Civilization (Ottawa) in 1995. In most cases, the figurines are miniature sculptures of well-rounded female nudes, fashioned - depending on the region - from ivory, antler or soft stone, and sometimes even clay, which was later fired. The treatment seems to have followed certain rules, the most obvious being an overemphasis of the fleshy parts of the body (buttocks, stomach and chest) and, at times, an explicit portrayal of various sexual attributes.

There's more - come back tomorrow and don't forget to join me for 'A Night out in Monte Carlo' which started yesterday and will continue for several more days.

16 November 2007

The caves of Balzi Rossi - 4

Finally we've reached the entrance to the Grotta di Florestano - Florestano's Cave. Tomorrow we'll walk further inside and see what we see.

There are in fact seven caves at Balzi Rossi but only two can be visited, Florestan's Cave and Caviglioni's Cave. In another cave, the Barma Grande, the famous 'triple burial' -skeletons of a Cro-Magnon adult male, girl and young boy, were discovered. These are on display in a glass case in the museum.

As I mentioned yesterday, I've written a personal account of my visit to the Caves of Balzi Rossi on my writing blog.

...and on a completely different subject, if you fancy a Night Out in Monte Carlo - a series which starts today - please click on Monte Carlo Daily Photo.

15 November 2007

The caves of Balzi Rossi - 3

Prehistoric man didn't have these steps to walk up, but I'm sure he was considerably more nimble of foot than us. No matter, we are nearly there and we'll be at the entrance to one of the caves soon.

The Balzi Rossi caves are at the southern limit of the hilly massif of the Alps, which extends to the sea along the coast, separating the Italian territory of Liguria to the east from Provence and the basin of the Rhône River in France to the west. This particular topography meant that the caves were en route - as well as a convenient stopping point - for those who travelled through or lived in this region over the millennia. During the Upper Paleolithic period, the obstacle of the Alpine glaciers made a stop at the caves obligatory. Man was present here from the time of the Riss glaciations (which began 240,000 years ago) until the Mesolithic.

The Grotta del Principe yielded a fragment of thin bone belonging to a pre-Neanderthal woman who walked erect. This is the oldest human fragment ever found in Italy.

(I need to say that almost all of the facts I'm giving you in these postings, I gleaned from material at the Museum. A few though are from the Internet. So if any scholar happens upon this blog and I'm in error, do please let me know and I'll be happy to correct it)

I mentioned yesterday I'd talk about the guides. Well, I decided to write a personal - and hopefully slightly humorous account - of my visit to the Balzi Rossi caves, including my take on the guides, and hope to get that up and published in my writing blog tomorrow. When it's done I'll give you the relevant link.

See you tomorrow.

14 November 2007

The caves of Balzi Rossi - 2

We are still walking toward the caves. If you look at yesterday's post, you'll see we left the first museum building and walked up the ramp. At the top of the ramp, you saw a covered bridge. Well here is that bridge, taken from the other direction. As you see it runs over the railway lines linking the French and Italian Rivieras. At the beginning of the bridge there was a locked iron gate, which the guide opened (I'll explain about the guides tomorrow but you should know there were three guides for one solitary visitor - me! - talk about over-staffed). Once the gate was unlocked I was permitted to walk on and discover the caves alone.

Don't worry, I know that bridge looks rickety but I assure you it's fine.

Come back tomorrow. We are getting nearer...

13 November 2007

The caves of Balzi Rossi - 1

As a photograph I appreciate this is rather messy, with bits of buildings left and right. However, it's the best way to show you how one gets to visit the limestone caves of Balzi Rossi. The caves (one of which you can clearly see) get their name (Red Rocks) from the colour of the cliffs that surround them.

We've now walked on a few yards from the restaurant you saw yesterday. On the left is a small museum (lower left painted in stripes). First you go into the museum, which was founded in 1898 by Sir Thomas Hanbury. (The Hanbury Gardens just a little further into Italy at La Mortola is one of the true wonders of this part of the world. A future treat, I promise you). Later you visit the caves themselves, and after that, you can see more displays in the second museum building which you see on the lower right.

The museum houses extraordinary displays of a prehistoric Mediterranean. Diggings began in the second half of the 19th century as well as in 1928 and during the post-war period fossils of great importance were discovered, including late Paleolithic human burials, fossils of elephants, hippopotamus, rhinoceros, reindeer, and groundhogs. All have provided precious information on the anthropological development of man (from Homoerectus to the man of Cro-magnon).

Tomorrow I'll take you on the walk you see - up that ramp and across the iron bridge (which, by the way, crosses the main railway line that runs along the Côte d'Azur and into Liguria) - and then we'll visit one of the caves. Do come back tomorrow - and tomorrow and tomorrow - this visit will take us a few days.

12 November 2007

Ristorante Balzi Rossi

This is theRestaurant Balzi Rossi - it's on the way to the area of sea and rocks you saw yesterday and the day before. The view is wonderful, of course, because it looks back on Menton - the beautiful facade of the Old Town (see banner at top of page) and the port of Garavan - and the food is fabulous! Fortunately, I speak from experience...

Tomorrow, we'll visit the Balzi Rossi caves dating back to the Palaeolithic Era.

11 November 2007

Near Balzi Rossi - 2

A closer look at one of those rocks you saw yesterday. I wonder what species of bird?

10 November 2007

Near Balzi Rossi

We are in Italy today. I parked at the frontière and walked past the Balzi Rossi restaurant, past the Balzi Rossi Caves and Museum of Prehistory (will show you these wonders another day) and sat and enjoyed the sea crashing against the rocks. Don't you love the wildness of the coast on the Italian side of the border? I do.

09 November 2007

Rooms with a view

Here's a villa on the hillside above the Old Town. This photo was taken from the cemetery. I love the setting, the terraced garden, with the hills behind and with what must be a wondrous view of the coastline. Whether it's good feng shui to look down on a cemetery - ah, there's the rub.

Would it bother you to look down over a cemetery?

08 November 2007

Lilac time

'Warble me now, for joy of Lilac-time...' - Walt Whitman

This lilac car has been parked for several days now outside this seafood restaurant near to the sea and the market and it attracts quite a lot of attention. I wasn't the only one taking a photograph. I've seen other old cars in the same place so perhaps the restaurant owner collects them?

06 November 2007

Sunday, Sunday in Menton

Taken last Sunday, when the street along the sea was closed to traffic, the world and his wife, not to mention his children, dogs and bicycles, were out in force.

A time and place for one man to sit and read his Sunday newspaper - oh and check his portable phone, bien sûr.

Plage aux Chiens

The beach between two rows of rocks is reserved for dogs. Here you see just one row. Plastic bins stand either side ready for the owners to drop in their dogs' crottes. This pebble beach is in front of the casino. Further along, in Garavan, there are some sandy beaches - imported sand.

05 November 2007


This little girl was one of many children rollerblading in Menton yesterday along the Bord de la Mer - and where the road is closed to traffic on the first Sunday of every month.

Yesterday I went to an exhibition of photos www.photomenton.com I'd expected all the photos to be of Menton, but not so - they were photographs depicting all sorts of subjects. I did talk briefly to a very nice guy called Maxime Peregrini who has taken some wonderful photos of Menton - some of which you can see at www.photoramique.com. At first I was daunted by the talent on display and this exhibition but later got inspired (!) so I thought I'd try the above photograph in black and white but with emphasis on the child herself.

Which photograph do you prefer?

04 November 2007


It's the first Sunday of the month - and that means the road that runs along the sea is closed to traffic. As you see, it's a glorious autumn day. The street is full of walkers, cyclists, roller-bladers, runners, dogs and above all, children. The building on the right, by the way, is the Casino. I hung around for an hour taking photographs so do come back over the next few days and see more.

03 November 2007

Street dogs

These three dogs were tied up whilst their owner was, presumably, inside the supermarket - the doors of which are open in the background. Later, I saw him begging on the street and with four dogs - these three dogs and one other. I have to say these dogs are in good condition and well fed. I've photographed street people before but on this occasion decided not to. Just a feeling - can't really explain it - but it seemed an invasion of privacy and I felt the dogs were happy with the young guy. It's possible that all the dogs didn't belong to him tho. I often see groups of street people and they take it in turns to care for their dogs. Happily I know of at least one local vet who treats these dogs at no charge. She told me one day that for many of the street people, their dogs are an emotional support they can't live without. And that's easy for all of us who love dogs, and are loved by dogs, to understand.

02 November 2007

Halloween in Menton

Maybe 10 years ago, perhaps less, Halloween wasn't the big thing in France that it is now - certainly in Menton, anyway. Now it's very popular as you can see - with children and also with adults in the clubs and bars of Monte Carlo.

These photos were taken in the walking street of Menton and in the bottom three, you'll see children queueing up in Jeff de Bruges, (window display just above) a very expensive hand-made chocolate shop. The children weren't given chocolates though but handfuls of boiled sweets. Click on the link if you want to drool over chocolate!

I had mistakenly thought that Trick or Treating only took place when children visited neighbourhood houses or apartments. Do shops hand out sweets in your city?

01 November 2007

Daily Photo Theme Day: Blue

Blue. Blue umbrellas, blue chairs, blue sea, blue sky. Doubtless stating the obvious for Menton. Never mind, when you've had enough blue, take a beach shower and then join me for a long cool drink on one of those loungers.

And if you'd like to stay in today's blue mood, please check out all the other Daily Photo bloggers around the world for their take on today's Theme:

Boston (MA), USA - Cleveland (OH), USA - Philadelphia (PA), USA - Arlington (VA), USA - Cape Town, South Africa - Portland (OR), USA - Sequim (WA), USA - Selma (AL), USA - Arradon, France - Petaling Jaya (Selangor), Malaysia - Stockholm, Sweden - Singapore, Singapore - Wassenaar (ZH), Netherlands - Phoenix (AZ), USA - Seattle (WA), USA - Toulouse, France - The Hague, Netherlands - Moscow, Russia - Fort Lauderdale (FL), USA - Kyoto, Japan - Tokyo, Japan - Saint Paul (MN), USA - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - Stayton (OR), USA - Maple Ridge (BC), Canada - Detroit (MI), USA - Crystal Lake (IL), USA - Port Angeles (WA), USA - Cottage Grove (MN), USA - Nelson, New Zealand - Bandung (West Java), Indonesia - Greenville (SC), USA - Hyde, UK - Radonvilliers, France - Albuquerque (NM), USA - Nashville (TN), USA - Manila, Philippines - Port Vila, Vanuatu - Saarbrücken, Germany - New Orleans (LA), USA - Bellefonte (PA), USA - Melbourne, Australia - Hobart (Tasmania), Australia - Forks (WA), USA - Wichita (Ks), USA - Barton (VT), USA - St. Louis (MO), USA - Joplin (MO), USA - Chandler (AZ), USA - Quincy (MA), USA - Setúbal, Portugal - Inverness (IL), USA - Christchurch, New Zealand - Toruń, Poland - North Bay (ON), Canada - Le Guilvinec, France - Chateaubriant, France - London, England - Minneapolis (MN), USA - Naples (FL), USA - Norwich (Norfolk), UK - Sydney, Australia - Austin (TX), USA - Mumbai, India - Boston (MA), USA - Santa Fe (NM), USA - Menton, France - Monte Carlo, Monaco - Paderborn, Germany - Montréal (QC), Canada - Jackson (MS), USA - Stavanger, Norway - Orlando (FL), USA - Grenoble, France - Cheltenham, UK - Forks (WA), USA - Mexico City, Mexico - West Sacramento (CA), USA - Silver Spring (MD), USA - Weston (FL), USA - London, UK - Jefferson City (MO), USA - Ocean Township (NJ), USA - Belgrade, Serbia - Paris, France - Shanghai, China - Montego Bay, Jamaica - Montpellier, France - Saint Louis (MO), USA - Wailea (HI), USA - Rabaul, Papua New Guinea - Auckland, New Zealand - Evry, France - New York City (NY), USA - Nottingham, UK - Las Vegas (NV), USA - Oslo, Norway - Minneapolis (MN), USA - American Fork (UT), USA - Cypress (TX), USA - Haninge, Sweden - Trujillo, Peru - Trujillo, Peru - Melbourne (VIC), Australia - Saint-Petersburg, Russian Federation - Durban, South Africa - Brussels, Belgium - Anderson (SC), USA - Budapest, Hungary - Wellington, New Zealand - Prague, Czech Republic - Saigon,

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