30 November 2008

The Chestnut Fête - les Galettes

Friendly people, delicious galettes.

As you can see in the smaller photograph, you can buy a galette made of chestnut flour. In the old days - in days of poverty - chestnut flour was part of the staple diet when wheat and other flours were not available. I believe as recently as the Second World War and particularly in Italy.

29 November 2008

The Chestnut Fête - Handicap Aventure

This smiling lady is handicapped and selling her wares from a wheelchair. She told me she makes some of the little ornaments herself, others she buys to sell. She also promotes the magazine you see in the smaller photograph Handicap Aventure.

Her position amongst the other stallholders was half way up a very steep slope so someone had pushed her there. She joked about it. I'd love to have got a snap of her with a big grin as she only has one tooth, dead centre, in her upper jaw. A great lady and quite a character.

28 November 2008

The Chestnut Fête - the Best Garlic in the World

Garlic! Beautiful garlic. You'll see two types of garlic here - above you see 'Ail rose de Lautrec.' This is considered the crème de la crème of garlic. It was first grown in central Asia 5,000 years ago and in the 18th century, in Siberia, it was considered of such value that a tax was payable. Click on the link to read more.

In the lower photograph, you see the same variety on the right and a more common or garden variety on the left.

27 November 2008

The Chestnut Fête - the Lamb Lady

This is the lady who sells the lambs. She also sells chickens and guinea pigs. As Marie remarked yesterday, and I agree - hopefully they are not being sold to be eaten. Whilst Menton itself isn't 'country' - the hinterland above Menton most definitely is, so they'd be sold as stock (to be fattened and eaten) or perhaps even eaten as baby lamb. Hopefully people don't eat guinea pigs! (in the small photo they are about to get a chunk of baguette).

My neighbour keeps sheep as pets - he has one that is over 20 years old - I'd like to think this is the destiny of these lambs, but I'm not holding my breath.


My thoughts and positive energies to the people of Mumbai at this dreadful time.

26 November 2008

The Chestnut Fête - the Lambs

At the Chestnut Fête, you get a good deal more than roast chestnuts and hot wine. There are lambs, guinea pigs and chickens for sale. You'll find stalls selling cheeses, breads, conserves, wonderful fresh garlic, walnuts, olives --- on and on.

Tomorrow, we'll meet the Lamb Lady.

25 November 2008

The Chestnut Fête - the Roast

The fires are ready and the chestnuts are roasting. In the main photograph, chestnuts are put in the drum and every so often you hear a most satisfying noise when the drum is turned. Clatter, clatter, clatter...

In the smaller photograph, you see chestnuts roasted in a more conventional way.

What appear to be old gas or oil containers - chopped in half - contain the fire.

This festival started in 1985 with 50 kilos of chestnuts. This year, with 2000 visitors, 350 kilos of chestnuts were roasted during the day.

24 November 2008

The Chestnut Fête - First things First!

Yesterday Roquebrune village held its annual Fête des Châtaignes (the Chestnut Fête) - with between 1500 and 2000 visitors arriving at the village to buy roasted chestnuts and sip hot wine or tequila.

But let's start at the beginning. The festivities start at 10 a.m. - I got there around 8.30 - so I could find a parking place. Later it would be impossible as the road to the village would be closed and I'd have had to wait for one of the specially run buses ferrying in the visitors.

And at 8.30 a.m. it was cold! These guys - members of Les Coqs Roquebrunois are preparing one of the braziers but also feeding the 'inner man.' Red wine, bread and salami.

In the smaller photograph, you'll see one of them is pointing at something. He wants his friends to look up at Mont Gros which is covered in snow.

Tomorrow - the roasting of the chestnuts.

23 November 2008

Underneath the arches

A narrow street in the Old Town. And through the archway, a glimpse of the Basilica through yet another arch.

22 November 2008

The Boot Boys

Meet the Boot Boys (Don, Tony, Bryan and Stan) sitting under the hollow elm tree in Gorbio. This tree was planted in 1713 and as you see in the small photograph is miraculously still going strong.

Not everyone comes to Menton with a beach towel. There are those who arrives with walking boots, maps and an awful lot of stamina. The mountains and the hilltop villages around Menton are great walking country.

The Boot Boys (also known as Les Garçons de la Botte) live in Kendal, in the beautiful Lake District of England. This is the first time I've met them although I felt I knew Don as we've emailed back and forth almost since I started this blog. Don and his wife own a holiday apartment in Menton and Don keeps me on my toes suggesting places for me to photograph. I live here yet I write Don with a question because I know he'll know the answer. Something wrong there...

To read about this recent Boot Boys walking trip, with great photographs - fabulous panoramas - and descriptions of Menton, St. Agnes, Sospel and Gorbio and environs, please click on the link. You'll also read more about the Boot Boys and how they got the name. And no, it's not to do with walking boots...

Come back soon, boys - it was great to meet you!

21 November 2008

The Seller of Violets

Standing near to the market last Saturday, this boy looks as if he'd rather be playing football with his friends, doesn't he?

The violets in the mountains have broken the rocks - Tennessee Williams

20 November 2008

The Seagull's Water Bowl

I don't know the language - perhaps Russian? Many Russians and Brits are buried in the old cemetery of Menton. The seagull obviously knows water collects here after rain and I like to think the person buried here in 1897 is happy to be of service.

19 November 2008

Les Feuilles Mortes

Just to prove we do have an autumn, here you see a rather grey day with fallen leaves from the plane trees (sycamores) in Place des Herbes.

18 November 2008

The Chef's Break

Everything is prepared for lunch - time for a break and a chat. This restaurant is at the Place du Cap in Menton.

17 November 2008

The Chapel Roof

Here you see the steeples of the Basilica and the church, taken from one of the higher levels in the old cemetery of the Chateau. You see a part of the beautiful Russian chapel on the left. I wish someone would come along and mend the roof. I fear for this beautiful building - my favourite in the cemetery.

The cemetery is above the Old Town - you can see these steeples in the banner photograph of this blog.

16 November 2008


The end of a tiny alleyway. Nesting boxes for pigeons. You can see in the smaller photograph that someone has hung aluminium foil from the lamp - probably an attempt to deter the pigeons.

It didn't work...

15 November 2008

The Blue Bench

A narrow street in the Old Town. A garden on the walls of this old house. A painted bench.

If you don't have a garden, create one.

14 November 2008

The Keyhole

An ancient door in the Old Town - long past its best - its keyhole rusted and useless. Yet the effect is beauty - even art.

13 November 2008

The Trumpet Player and the Saxaphone Player

Whilst I was up at Trabuquet photographing the war graves, these two ladies were playing at various ceremonies in Menton for Armistice Day.

Meet Mireille on the left. She lives in Nice. Caroline, on the right, is Australian and has lived in the Old Town of Menton, very near to Trabuquet, for 20 years. They play with La Garde de Menton which is the Harmonie Municipale and they practice once a week in the old Fire Station. Their instruments - the trumpet and the saxophone. There is no pay for this - they do it for the pleasure and the honour.

I didn't photograph them in ideal conditions, sun on their faces, deep shade behind but I've fiddled with this photograph in iPhoto - anyway apologies it's not quite up to scratch but I wanted you to meet these two great women.

You'll notice Le Balico in the background - closed for November - many places are closed but happily not Le Lido where Mireille and Caroline drink a well-deserved bière or pression as beer is known, when it's pumped from the barrel.

12 November 2008

Mort pour la France

There are two cemeteries above the Old Town in Menton: the cemetery of the Old Chateau, where many of the Russian and British aristocrats, who colonised Menton at the turn of the century, are buried.

From 1861, Menton became famous for its microclimate and many visitors, suffering from tuberculosis, came to Menton in the hope of getting well but sadly many died. And so the Old Cemetery had little space left for the dead.

In 1880 a second cemetery was built above the Boulevard de Garavan. It looks down over the Old Cemetery, terrace after terrace descending the hillside. Here from 1915, the fallen of Menton who died serving their country in the First World War are buried. The graves include many of the Troupes Sénégalaises .

These two photographs show only a small part of the war graves in Trabuquet. In the main photo, you'll see a square archway on the left and through this you'll find the fallen of Verdun. In other areas, tragically, you find more and more.

Many of the graves in both cemeteries are falling into disrepair but it's gratifying to see how beautifully these war graves are kept and to see so many chrysanthemums decorating them at this time of the year.

Lest we forget...

11 November 2008

The Photography Exhibition -2

There was every type of photography at the exhibition: wildlife from Africa, portraits from Indonesia, glimpses of Vietnam, shapes, seascapes, landscapes, baby portraits, macro work and so on. There were also photographs superimposed with other photographs - sort of fantasy work with presumably much done in Photoshop. And photographs such as those above - perhaps appealing to the gentleman looking at them!

At the exhibition it was possible to get a 'studio portrait' taken by Club Image Monaco. Here you see a young family having their portrait taken - after which, they'll be given the images on a CD.

I never thought I'd take part in this exhibition, assuming everyone was professional, but walking around and talking to the very friendly exhibitors the majority are amateur photographers, passionate about their work. I asked lots of questions about printing - glossy or matt (mixed opinions on this) - noted how much of the work is framed - so I've filled in a form for next year... it will surely be an interesting, if terrifying experience and one in which I'll learn and get feedback.

Nice-Matin says there are 100 applicants so far. The subject for the competition is 'Insolite' which translates as 'unusual, strange.'

10 November 2008

The Photography Exhibition -1

Each November Photo-Menton holds an exhibition at the Palais de l'Europe and each year more and more photographers take part. This year 86 amateur and professional photographers' work was on display.

There are several awards as well as one voted by the public. Entry is 3 euros and with your ticket you are given a small voting form to choose your favourite photographer.

Click to see Nice-Matin's reportage and photograph of this event.

09 November 2008

After the Storms - Where River meets the Sea

Menton is built over rivers (perhaps too large a word - streams?) - you'd not know it as you walk along the promenade but at the base of every valley the water pouring off the mountains, after rain, has to go somewhere and of course, that is to the sea.

Here you see water from the Torrent de Gorbio where it meets the sea. The smaller photograph shows that same river taken from the opposite direction. You see the bridge - part of the promenade that joins Roquebrune-Cap-Martin to Menton. You can also see some of the rubbish thrown up by the storms. (Click to enlarge)

Recently, the Carei, the river running along the Route de Sospel (the road that runs from the sea to the autoroute) has been built over at vast cost and now the main road runs over it. And in Nice-Matin the other day, I read millions of euros are to be spent doing repair work over the river that brings water down another valley - the Borrigo.

08 November 2008

After the Storms - the Route de Gorbio

We're looking at just one part of the Route de Gorbio. In the main photograph, the medieval hill village of Gorbio is about 4 kilometres behind us - we are en route to Menton on the road I take every time I drive down the valley.

At the moment there are about 5 or 6 blockages like this. Light falls this year and nothing to worry about. One year the road was cut for two months whilst two separate rock faces were made safe with retaining walls. During that time, we had to go the 'long way round' to get to Menton or Monaco.

Look carefully at the rock face (click to enlarge) - it's already been covered in heavy wire, fixed into the rock with bolts. Even so a bush has crashed and stones and very small rocks fall and tumble out. Further down the Route de Gorbio, larger rocks have hit the road waiting for the council to move them. When you drive out after any heavy rain, you have to keep a careful eye, as there are many sharp bends on the road and it's easy to hit a fallen rock which doesn't do a car much good.

The rain has stopped but water will continue to come off the mountains for days, even weeks - we've had so much of it.

07 November 2008

After the Storms - a Walk

An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day - Henry David Thoreau

06 November 2008

After the Storms - Sea Spray

We've had storms galore lately - they've gone on for about 10 days. Lightning, thunder and endless heavy rain - no electricity from Marseilles to Menton one day - fallen rocks and flooding.

Today I woke to rain again and then suddenly the rain stopped, the sun broke through and life on the French Riviera was back to normal again...

Here you see the sea crashing on the promenade where Roquebrune-cap-Martin meets Menton. You can see the Old Town of Menton in the distance. Part of this road along the sea has been cut for several days - the sea was coming over to the other side of the road - dangerous for cars and people.

05 November 2008

Thankyou, America!

The tears of the Reverend Jesse Jackson say it all. Thankyou, America - thankyou!

04 November 2008

Beau's Vote!

Meet my dog, Beau - happy to loan one of his long ears to support Obama on this, America's election day.

Beau lived in a refuge in the Var for four years - he was called Bimbo then but I changed it to Beau the day we drove home together. He is a Bruno de Jura - a Swiss hunting dog - and the origin of the Bloodhound (you can see the resemblance I think). Three weeks after coming home Beau had both ear drums removed to try and cut down on the massive infections he had. He was four and a half hours on the table. He still gets abscesses from time to time but now he's a pretty healthy dog and this is his chair - which used to be 'my' chair. Huh! He's happy and so am I to have him here. He's a wonderful, funny dog with a howl you'd not believe. He's lived with me in Gorbio for 18 months and is probably about 10 years old although really no one knows his age or history. Taking him from the refuge was the best thing I ever did. Always rescue a dog from a refuge - there are so many and they reward you a trillion-fold. I adore this funny ol' boy.

Happy Election Day, America! Beau and I will be sitting up late and watching the results. If the polls are right, we want to be part of history in the making and welcome President Barack Obama, who I know is going to so good for America and the world. It's time for CHANGE!

See how you can vote with candies on Monte Carlo Daily Photo.

03 November 2008

Autumn - the Games of Childhood

Games in Gorbio village. One of the best things about bringing up children in a village is that they can play safely. No cars in these medieval streets and no one to bother a child. No worries about strangers. Windows have eyes and everyone knows everyone else - someone would soon see if a stranger was talking to a village child.

In this photograph, the children have been playing with two others who have just disappeared down the steps.

Don't you love those red boots!

02 November 2008

Autumn - the Dog who loves Water

Alpha is cooling down in the area next to the wash-house in Gorbio. He's a Berger Blanc Suisse (White Swiss Shepherd Dog).

Note the 'tap' which is a cut off plastic Pellegrino bottle.

You can see the main washhouse below which sits under a roof supported on pillars. A windy day and leaves have blown in, but presumably the ladies who use this will clean it out before doing their washing.

To learn about this breed and to see more photos of Alpha - is he the dog with the longest tongue? - click on Riviera Dogs.

01 November 2008

Theme Day: Books

He shades his eyes from the sun. She rests an arm on his chest and continues to read.

'There's no mistaking a real book when one meets it. It's like falling in love.'

- Christopher Morley (1890 - 1957)

It's the first of the month and so it's Theme Day for City Daily Photo bloggers with 178 blogs participating in the 'Books' theme. Do spend some time enjoying the many interpretations I know you'll find. Click here to view thumbnails for all participants

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