31 March 2010

'Allo Robert' and the Mynah Bird

Just up the Castellar road from the Nouvelles Galleries is a place of wonders. 'Hello Robert' sells brocante and antiquities.

Once inside, you have to fight your way through furniture, piles of antique leather suitcases, a couple of cars, tables, fairground figures, ancient bicycles, rocking horses galore, old tins, statues, paintings, it never stops and of course it's fabulous.

The ground floor seems to extend forever, most is undercover but at the far end it's open to the elements and that's where you'll find old tiles, decorated pots, garden furniture, bird cages and loads of plants, even a small grotto with running water. Tucked in a corner at the foot of a staircase is this mynah bird who talks but is marginally impolite at times! He also wolf whistles to make you feel beautiful and screeches when you walk up his escalier (stairscase).

30 March 2010

Rusty Love

In October last year my very special friend, Catherine - who lives in Paris and spends time in Menton - published a photo on Just the Five of Us of these very same padlocks on the bridge in Ventimiglia. Click on the link to see them. See how rusty they've gotten over the winter.

Yesterday, Rob posted a 'link lock' on North Metro Photo, which in turn led me to Valeria at Verona Daily Photo who posted Locks of Love which explains it all!

It seems it all started with a book by Federico Mocca called 'I want you', which was subsequently made into a film. The story was an inspiration to Roman lovers who copied the main characters and wrote their names on padlocks and fixed them to the Ponte Milvio lampposts - and so the idea spread. But there is more and for that you'll have to read this fascinating article in the New York Times.

Isn't it amazing what we learn from our blogging friends? Thanks everyone!

29 March 2010

Armand's Clematis

A sure sign of spring in the south of France is Clematis Armandii. It's a very happy plant in this climate and I'm all for happy plants. It originated in central and southern China and was introduced to Europe by Ernest Wilson and named in honour of the French missionary, Père Armand David (1826-1900).

This Clematis Armandii is in the famous Hanbury Gardens at La Mortola, just over the border in Italy. I have one in my garden too but it's taken off and has climbed way, way up into a tree, instead of gently trailing along a fence as it was supposed to do. No matter. I admire it from a distance.

28 March 2010

Reflections in a Martini

We're back in Ventimiglia today. Remember the old lady eating a bowl of chocolate? Note her reflection in this old Martini advert. In the smaller photo, you see the hills above Ventimiglia.

27 March 2010


'It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.'

~ Charles Dickens

26 March 2010

Fruits of the Sea

Just in case you wondered what I was doing in Italy yesterday...

...eating, of course! This was the first course of warm seafood salad. In fact, three of us shared it You can see mussels, octopus and calamari, palourdes (a sort of small clam) and prawns. The big fellow on top is perhaps a langoustine - which seems to translate as a scampi or Dublin Bay prawn.

After this, we all had pasta with Pesto Alla Genovese, so named because it originated in Genoa just along the Ligurian coast from here. Pesto is probably my favourite Italian sauce - made of basil, garlic, Parmigiano-Reggiano and Pecorino cheeses, olive oil and pine nuts. It's traditionally ground with a mortar and pestle - in fact, the word pesto is the past participle of the Italian word for 'to pound or crush.'

You can buy freshly made Pesto Alla Genovese in any market in Ventimiglia or Menton so I confess I never bother to make my own.

25 March 2010

A Sliver of Silver

It's late afternoon in Ventimiglia. The sun sends a sliver of silver light across the water. We are looking towards Menton and beyond, in the far distance, is Monaco. It's time to go home.

24 March 2010


Ventimiglia, Italy - across the border from Menton.

'I have this theory that chocolate slows down the aging process.... It may not be true, but do I dare take the chance?'

~ Unknown

23 March 2010

The Lion (No Witch) and the Wardrobe

A dress shop in the pedestrian street of Menton.

'Some journeys take us far from home. Some adventures lead us to our destiny.'

~ The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe - C.S.Lewis

22 March 2010


A speciality in local restaurants at this time of the year, is omelette à la poutine. Poutine is only available for about three weeks of the year - the end of March/early April.

I've tried describing it to friends as whitebait but much much smaller and transparent, but really the fish looks like teeny weeny eels, doesn't it? I have many friends who adore poutine. I've never fanced it myself.

I don't know the English translation for poutine. Perhaps there isn't one? Does anyone know?

21 March 2010

Sunlight in the Shadows

'What I wanted to do was to paint sunlight on the side of a house. '

~ Edward Hopper

20 March 2010

A Terrace on the Riviera...

A covered terrace in a hidden corner of the Old Town. Perhaps not quite what we have in mind when we think of a balcony or terrace on the French Riviera.

19 March 2010

Walking the Dog...

'All great thoughts are conceived while walking.'

~ Friedrich Nietzsche

18 March 2010

Le Martina

Lunch in the sun in the Place du Cap.

Do you prefer this shot in Black and White or colour?

17 March 2010

Spring is Here - the Sun Shines at Last

This was how the sky looked two days ago - sun with just a little cloud. Yesterday, not a cloud to be seen. It's so good to see the steeples in the Old Town rising up to a blue sky once again. The sun has finally chased winter away.

Remember the photo a few days ago of the derelict Villa Mer et Monts? Click to see. This inspired a charming watercolour by the Russian artist Irina . Do click on her blog Irina's Paintings and Stuff to take a look. Thanks so much Irina.

16 March 2010

Spring is Here - and Eyelashes Flutter...

The sun is shining, it's getting warmer. Spring is finally here and girls flutter their eyelashes. Life is, thankfully, getting back to normal in Menton...

This pretty girl is a server at the Bar du Cap.

15 March 2010


Rue des Marins, Menton

'Man needs colour to live; it's just as necessary an element as fire and water. '

~ Fernand Leger

14 March 2010

A Mug or a Bus Ticket?

A mug for 1 euro. Seems so cheap, doesn't it?

But you know, there is something else you can get for one euro that is even better value. A bus ticket! You can take a bus anywhere in Alpes-Maritimes for 1 euro and the Alpes-Martimes is a big area - you can visit Nice, Antibes, Cannes, Grasse, Mougins, Vence, Vallauris, Roquefort-les-Pins and of course all the places nearer to Menton like Roquebrune and Sospel and Monaco.

Good value, I'd say.

13 March 2010


'A hush is over everything, Silent as women wait for love; The world is waiting for the spring.'

~ Sara Teasdale

12 March 2010

Cochons and cabbages

One of the stalls in the main food market sells brocante as well as fruit and vegetables.

'Pork and two veg, please!'

11 March 2010

'La France Triomphante' for Eric Tenin and Paris Daily Photo!

Today is a big day for the City Daily Photo community as it's the 5th anniversary of Eric Tenin's Paris Daily Photo. It was Eric who started it all and today, we are paying tribute to Eric by posting photographs representing the 'Tenin Perspective' - POV from the ground up or slightly skewed. (Thankyou Kim for the great idea of making a tribute in this way.)

Eric is an impossible act to follow but I hope you like this photo of 'La France Triomphante' in the medieval village of Roquebrune. She is bound up as she was ready to be sent away for restoration - just in case you think the villagers are into bondage! The sculptor is the Hungarian artist, Anna Chromy. Since taking the photo the work has been restored at the Ateliers de Pietra Santa in Lucca, Italy and she is now back in her normal position at the Place Deux Frères in the village.

Happy 5th birthday to Paris Daily Photo and many thanks as always to Eric for everything, for the brilliant CDP idea, for sticking with it, for the friendship and inspiration you give to us all. To see the tributes of other CDP bloggers, please click here to view thumbnails for all participants

And do visit Paris Daily Photo - you'll see Eric's brand spanking new fabulous look to his blog.

10 March 2010


'If you've never been thrilled to the very edges of your soul by a flower in spring bloom, maybe your soul has never been in bloom.'

~Audra Foveo

Dear Peter from Paris has also posted today about his recent visit to Menton - wonderful photos and commentary - do go and look. You'll see amongst many wonders, photos of mimosa trees in bloom. It was so good to see you again, Peter.

09 March 2010

Derelict! - Villa Mer et Monts

Everytime I drive down the Gorbio valley I see this derelict house high on the hillside and have always wondered about it. The other day I happened to be driving on the other side of the valley on a road I'd never been on before - and there it was in the distance. I snapped the main photo and then asked a man walking his dog if he knew the name of the house. He did. Villa Mer et Monts (Sea and Mountains) and after that research was easy. He also told me the nearest place I could park but that I'd have to walk to the house.

I ignored a chain barrier saying 'no entry' and walked up a very long and steep drive to the property. Some of the shutters were half off and swung in the wind, the whole house seemed to creak and make weird music - it was pretty scary. I thought I'd be able to return to my car from the road beyond the house but it was blocked and so I had to retrace my footsteps. I can tell you I ran through the archways you see at the base of the building and won't be going back again - at least not alone! I wish someone would restore this beautiful building but frankly it's probably too far gone.

In 1905, an Englishman, Mr. Smith-Ryland, bought from the Baroness de Berge, widow of a former Senator of the Loire, the Villa Mer et Monts located in the Val de Gorbio, well away from habitual locations of the entrenched aristocracy, which was in the area of Garavan. It was too small for Mr. Smith-Ryland's taste and so he razed the building to the ground but kept the original name. He instructed the architect Abel Glena to design a large house surrounded by a park of 20,000 m2. The villa standing on a foundation of stone arches which forms a terrace, has forty rooms overlooking the sea and mountains and therefore living up to its name.

Each season, the owners organized 'bridge and dance parties' that reunited many of the British colony who spent their winters in Menton. Sometimes, Mr. Smith-Ryland rented the villa to friends such as Washington Singer, a son of the inventor of the sewing machine.

After the First World War the villa was converted into a nursing and maternity home. Under the direction of Dr. Seguel and surrounded by British personnel, the building welcomed patients who wished to take a 'cure' in the micro-climate of Menton, like Prince Yusupov, the assassin of Rasputin, along with his wife Princess Irina and his brother, Theodore.

Villa Mer et Monts has been abandoned for some years and is now the property of the Conseil General des Alpes Martimes.

08 March 2010

Fête du Citron: Cinema - the Children

Our last day at the Fête du Citron. The kids, even those in the audience, are part of the parade. They dress up and have a wonderful time. The little girl in the last shot really is part of the parade of course.

Thanks so much to everyone who has come along for the ride. At the moment, I don't ever want to see another lemon or orange but doubtless I'll get over it.

Tomorrow - pastures new...

07 March 2010

Fête du Citron: Cinema - King Kong!

King Kong! - but where's Fay Wray? Click to read about the 1933 iconic film.

The Fête du Citron ended on the 4th March and whilst I have dozens more photographs it's time to wind up this little series so tomorrow will be the last day.

Catherine asked if there were less huge floats in the parade than usual. Probably there were the usual number but the weather was grim, the light not conducive to a decent photo, so I look more shots of the performers and less of the floats. Here are a couple for you, Catherine.

06 March 2010

Fête du Citron: Cinema - Wells Fargo

You don't really expect to see a Wells Fargo coach being pulled by two fine horses down the streets of Menton but when it's festival time, anything can happen.

05 March 2010

Fête du Citron: Cinema - Cannes Film Festival

With cinema as the theme at this year's Fête du Citron, then the Cannes Film Festival had to feature and it did. This poster is from 2007 when the festival celebrated its 60th year.

The smaller photo shows spools of film and editing scissors.

04 March 2010

Fête du Citron: Cinema - the Venetian Ladies

Yesterday's post and the body beautiful brought forth much discussion - so by way of contrast here are two ladies from the Venetian part of the procession - and with their clothes on!

03 March 2010

Fête du Citron: Cinema - One for the Boys

Alright you guys, if you can get beyond the body beautiful, take a look at the facial expressions of the two dressed-up little girls. What are they thinking?

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