31 August 2008

The Village Fête - the Boules Competition 3

Everyone who plays boules seems to have their own particular way of throwing. And it's fascinating to watch.

In the smaller photograph (click to enlarge) you see the boules field, laid out in lines for the competition. Today they are playing doublettes - or doubles.

There are three types of competition in boules:
  • three players per team (two boules per player), called triples
  • two players per team (three boules per player), called doubles
  • one player per team (three boules per player), called singles
The game is played from one end to the other - and then the next game is played the opposite way. You can see a length of wood in the foreground of the photo - in fact there are more games going on this side of that length of timber too - so it was a pretty full field of players.

Want to read a simplified and brief version of the rules? - click on the link.

30 August 2008

The Village Fête - the Boules Competition 2

Yesterday - three boules. Today, two - note the precise way the hand is balancing the ball - not holding it tight. You can sense the reverence here.

In the smaller photograph, a lady (more men play than women but yes, women certainly play too) holds her boule in a cloth, which she'll use to ensure the boule is free from dust and grit.

Boules are heavy, by the way - solid metal and weighing around 800 grams (or just under) - that's about 1.76 lbs.

You can read more on the game of pétanque by clicking on the link.

29 August 2008

The Village Fête - the Boules Competition

The Fête Patronale de Saint Barthélemy is a two-day event and on the first day - Saturday - the village holds its Boules Competition.

Boules or Pétanque? You can read more on this by clicking on this link.

Boules fascinates me. For instance - how many ways are there to hold the boules? Here you see two ways to hold three. More tomorrow...

28 August 2008

The Village Fête - the Pomme d'Or

Here you see the Golden Apple. But first - on the left - meet the Committee of the Association for Festivals and Animations in Gorbio - responsible for organising the Fête Patronale de Saint Barthélemy. You can see the two chickens held aloft which are the offering to the curé - and note the man in the pale blue suit - he's holding the Pomme d'or.

The tradition of the Golden Apple goes back to Medieval times when the nobles made an offering to the church. The crucifix, which you saw entering the church the other day, and the sword represent the two social orders.

I didn't photograph the ceremony itself or follow the procession through the little streets of the village. There is much we have missed - next year, I promise.

Tomorrow - on to other joys of the Village Fête - how about a game of boules?

27 August 2008

The Village Fête - Eglise Saint Barthélemy

The service is about to begin. The small village church of Gorbio - Eglise Saint Barthélemy - is packed to overflowing for the ceremony of the Golden Apple.

Tomorrow - the Golden Apple.

26 August 2008

The Village Fête - the Offering

Gorbio is in Fête several times during the year but perhaps the most important is this one - the Fête Patronale de Saint Barthélémy. It takes place over a Saturday and Sunday in August each year. Sunday's events started with the Blessing of the Animals - followed by a chanted mass in the Eglise St. Barthélémy, celebrated by the curé, Père Baudoin.

I'll tell you more about this medieval tradition tomorrow but today we see the offering. In medieval times two chickens were strung up by their feet, hung on a stick and offered to the curé. Today, they are carefully put into a string bag and at the end of the ceremony returned to their breeder. The offering is made by the Festival Committee.

25 August 2008

The Village Fête - the Blessing of the Animals

The Blessing of the Animals. First the priest read a short prayer and then walked amongst them. Unfortunately the horses and dog you see in the smaller photograph arrived just a few minutes too late. These horses (and others, out of shot) are there every year. They walk down from their home above the village. I love to hear their clip-clop on the cobble stones you see in the main photo. You can see the dog's pic on Riviera Dogs today. Teo is Jacdterrier, a breed that originated in Germany.

Tomorrow - the live offering to the curé.

24 August 2008

The Village Fête - Manon

This weekend Gorbio, a medieval village 7 kilometres from Menton, holds its Fête Patronale de la Saint Barthélémy. I love Gorbio, but then I would, 'cos it's my village.

This morning, the animals gathered in the village square - around the old elm tree that was planted in 1713. The priests walked down from the church for the Blessing of the Animals. Here you see Gorbio's newest resident - Manon, the baby donkey.

Tomorrow - the Blessing.

23 August 2008

Summertime in Menton - the Sheep who Swims in the Sea

Woolite loves to swim in the sea with her owner Philippe (see yesterday's post). Here she is saying Bonjour to a Jack Russell terrier. In the smaller photograph, like everyone else, she takes a shower after her swim. And below you see her in a race with her owner. Click on Riviera Dogs for another few of the little dog - plus his ball.

22 August 2008

Summertime in Menton - 30 Million d'Amis

Remember Woolite, the ewe who runs around Menton following her owner Philippe wherever he goes? This morning she was being filmed for a French television programme called 30 Million d'Amis, which is all about animals - every sort you can imagine.

Here you see the 30 Million d'Amis crew filming Woolite and Philippe along the promenade where Menton joins Roquebrune. Tomorrow come back and see Woolite swimming in the sea with Philippe.

21 August 2008

Summertime in Menton - the Cat

Had enough of the beaches? Too many Fete Days? Want to get away from the August crowds?

Then take a walk in the Old Town. Just wander - take little alleyways, don't worry, you won't get lost - and anyway, exploring is all part of the fun. And a promise - you'll see lots of cats.

This lovely cat often sits here, appreciating caresses from locals and visitors.

20 August 2008

Summertime in Menton - the Turtle

And turtle makes three...

Talking of water creatures - to see crocodiles doing naughty things, take a look at Nantes Daily Photo.

19 August 2008

Summertime in Menton - the Pianist

Jean Bernard Pommier is not only the director of the 59th Festival of Music in Menton but on this particular evening, was conductor of the Menton Saint Petersburg Orchestra and, for the final piece, the soloist as well. And how he enjoyed himself - his energy and talent kept everyone entranced. Watch those hands go! This is one pianist who so enjoyed playing Saint-Saëns' 2nd concerto.

He was incredible to watch as he played and conducted at the same time. The critic of Nice-Matin wrote that it was better than a fireworks display and in his opinion, the best of the three pieces.

18 August 2008

Summertime in Menton - the Festival of Music

Each summer - in August - Menton holds its famous Festival of Music. This year is the 59th year. Seating, as we see, is in the square outside the Basilica. The columns of the Basilica are on our left and you can see another photograph of this facade by clicking in the link.

Ahead of us is the Chapelle des Pénitents Blancs - you saw the inside of this beautiful building the other day. The majority of the Old Town is to our right. Behind us is the sea and so those sitting facing us, have a wondrous view. Actually I think we do too, don't you?

In the photograph, the pianist and artisitic director of the Festival, Jean-Bernard Pommier, is addressing the audience. He is also the conductor of the orchestra: the Martinova-Kazakov Menton Saint-Peterburg Orchestra.

They played works by Mozart, Haydn and Saint Saëns. My favourite was the beautiful clarinet of Andrey Kazakov - the soloist in Mozart's Concerto for clarinet and orchestra KV622. Unfortunately I couldn't get a photograph of him as he was masked by the conductor, who because of the wind had to conduct with one hand only and with the other, he held on to the soloist's music - to prevent it blowing away in the wind. Someone needed to have brought a peg onstage!

I want to thank Chuckeroon of Richmond upon Thames Daily Photo. If I printed out and counted the number of emails, Chuckeroon has written - helping me, advising me, answering endless questions on night photography, I think I'd fill the Basilica with them. Chuckeroon, thank you so much for your patience with me. A long way to go yet, but I'm slowly learning and today go to buy a 'proper' tripod. I took this photograh with a Gorillapod, which had been suggested by Don, a regular visitor to Menton and to this blog. It stood happily on the low wall in front of where I sat. Thanks, Don.

Tomorrow - the pianist and the cellos.

17 August 2008

Summertime in Menton - the Prince

Watering the hanging pots the other day, who should pop out and jump on the plastic support of another pot, but a frog. He lives in the right hand pot you see in the smaller photo.

Do you think if I kiss him he'll turn into my Prince?

16 August 2008

Summertime in Menton - Youth

High summer means having fun on a pontoon. In the smaller photo another pontoon - another group of young people - almost tipped over. It didn't!

And if you'd like to see The Barack Obama Dog please click on the live link to Riviera Dogs.

15 August 2008

Summertime in Menton - the Piano Recital

Menton holds its famous Festival of Music each August. In additional to the main concerts held outside the Basilica at 21h30, there are smaller recitals held outdoors at 11h and 17h (we saw the Mandolin Player the other day). There are also recitals that take place at 18h at the stunningly beautiful Chapelle des Pénitents Blancs, the interior of which, you see here. This Chapel stands at a right-angle to the Basilica itself in the centre of the Old Town.

These are my first proper attempts at indoor photography. I tried using a Gorillapod as a tripod but no joy - the chairs available as support were just too slippery. And I apologise for the awful photograph of Einav Yarden, the wonderful Israeli pianist. (I'm learning, folks) Einav lives in the USA. She played - so beautifully - a series of sonatas by Bach, Stravinsky and Beethoven.

14 August 2008

Summertime in Menton - Laughter

She's giggling, he's having a good old belly laugh. Two people on a stone bench at the Place du Cap.

Laughter is the shortest distance between two people - Victor Borge

13 August 2008

Summertime in Menton - the Flat Peach

Les pêches plates as they are called in France - or the Donut Peach in America.

The original flat peach variety was introduced to the United States from China in 1869 but it never became very popular. New varieties of the flat peach have been gaining in popularity since the 1990s and have been fairly recently seen in the south of France. They are grown in France, Italy and Spain.

The flat peach comes with white or yellow flesh, as do their bigger cousins, of course - the round peach - but these have a very subtle flavour, delicate perfume, and are particularly sweet. Apparently they are easy to grow in our climate and are really catching on. Last week I saw about six stalls selling them in Menton market. Yesterday, when I took this photograph, only one, but that's because the season is coming to an end.

12 August 2008

Summertime in Menton - the Pink Beach Towel

Here's a longer shot of yesterday's photograph. We are on one of Menton's dog beaches - a pebble beach. Not all of Menton's beaches have pebbles. Les Sablettes, Menton's biggest beach, which is at the foot of the Old Town, has sand - and like this one, it's also a public beach.

The Golden Retriever and the Labrador playing in the sea, can be seen - in other shots and in close-up - by clicking on each link.

11 August 2008

Summertime in Menton - the Beach Companion

A contented dog, sandy face and feet, cuddled up next to his owner on one of Menton's dog beaches. Tomorrow - we'll see the rest of the Lady on the Pink Towel - and a longer shot of this dog beach.

10 August 2008

Summertime in Menton - the Mandolin Player

A by-product of Menton's famous Music Festival held each August is that this year - each day - at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. you will find young musicians performing in the town. Here you see a young mandolin player. In the smaller photograph, you see the group - three mandolins and a guitar. We are at Square Etats-Unis - a charming small garden, tucked away off Avenue Carnot. (click on small photo to enlarge to full size)

This year Menton is holding the 59th Festival of Music. The main concerts are held on the Parvis of the Basilica Saint-Michel Archange - the big church in the Old Town of Menton. (If you go back to the hazy photograph of Menton a couple of days ago, you can see the church - the one with he tallest steeple). A Parvis is a square outside a church. You sit on tiered seating and as you listen to the music you look out over the sea to the horizon. It has to be one of the most magical places to see a concert.

And for those of you thinking that Menton is still sitting under a haze of pollution you should know the wind blew the muck away - probably it was the edge of a Mistral from the Rhône valley - that's as much as we get of a Mistral here. Now, we bask under clear sunny blue skies again. I'd hate you to worry about me!

09 August 2008

Summertime in Menton - the Beach Vendor

The man who sells everything...dresses, shirts, scarves, swim-wear and sun hats. In his right-hand, he's carrying a home-made display case (you can see the cardboard and string) which is crammed with sunglasses and watches and probably a lot more besides.

He trudges the beaches for most of the day. Hot work I'd think with everything he's carrying, not to mention the weight of the hats on his head.

All the guys who sell sunglasses and watches are of North African origin and wear glorious flowing robes. Some try selling counterfeit watches and sunglasses. In Menton, but particularly across the border in Ventimiglia. Usually a cat and mouse game between them and the police. Whether this seller has counterfeit goods in his display case, I don't know. Probably not - he'd not be able to run very fast with that lot, would he? In any case, there are one of two of these sellers I see regularly so they probably have the relevant licence. Or the police turn a blind eye.

08 August 2008

Summertime in Menton - the Waiter

A bar in the Place du Cap at the foot of the Old Town.

07 August 2008

Summertime in Menton - Pollution

See that fug over the Old Town? It's particularly evident in the smaller photograph - (click to enlarge) - where you see an oppressive haze over Monaco in the distance. This is pollution caused by too many cars. On the day I took this photograph, the speed limit on the autoroutes had been restricted in an effort to reduce emissions from cars.

Since then, the sky is clearer - and I presume those restrictions have been lifted as I've not read more in our local rag, Nice-Matin. So don't feel too sorry for those of us who live here.

The photographs were taken from the Italian border.

06 August 2008

Summertime in Menton - La Foule

La Foule = crowds. Crowded beaches. That's Menton in July and August - at least on the public beaches, one of which you see here. You can spread out a little more on the private beaches in Garavan.

On the left you can see the lifeguard sitting in his tower and in the foreground, left, one of the beach showers. In the distance, again left, you see part of the Old Town. Further away - Italy.

05 August 2008

Summertime in Menton - Karting

Each summer, you'll find one weekend devoted to Karting. This year the 36th Grand prix was held and here you see one of the heats. I can't imagine how hot these kids must have been in their gear but presumably they don't think of that as they dream of growing up to be Schumacher or Hamilton, both of whom started in Karting.

The races are held at the far end of the Sablettes Beach and prove very popular with visitors who sit in the cafés, sip their cooling drinks - and enjoy all the excitement.

04 August 2008

Summertime in Menton - the Bikini

Suntan lotion, beach towel... and a bikini - et voilà!

03 August 2008

Summertime in Menton - the Créole girl

So many beautiful Créoles in Menton last week. Here's a young beauty waiting for people to buy her produce. More gorgeous dreadlocks as per the guy you saw yesterday.

The tablecloth you see seems to be traditional. Nearly all the stalls were decorated with this same checked pattern.

02 August 2008

Summertime in Menton - Dreadlocks

This great looking guy was part of the recent Créole festival in Menton. I adore dreadlocks. If I come back in another life, I'll request, 'Rasta hair please.'

In the smaller photo, you see another guy with his dreadlocks pinned up.

Do you like dreadlocks?

Tomorrow - a gorgeous young beauty - and yes, her hair is worn in dreadlocks too. After that, we'll be over my dreadlocks obsession - and get back to the beach.

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