31 July 2010

Sun, Shade and Silhouettes in Gorbio

Gorbio village. They knew what they were doing in medieval times when they built houses with such thick walls. The sun slams down yet the village stays shady and cool.

30 July 2010


A great place for a glass of wine before dinner is the Mandragore in Place aux Herbes. Relax and watch the world pass by in this lovely square shaded with plane trees. The owner is a well-known Menton artist, Yves Bosio, who recently had a major retrospective at the Palais de l'Europe called '50 Years of Creation.' Click on the link for more info.

29 July 2010

La Mer - Rounding the Lighthouse

We've left the port of Garavan. We are rounding the lighthouse which takes us out into open sea from where we see the Old Town on Menton with the mountains behind - and on this particular day - cloud cover.

Next we sail past Roquebrune-Cap-Martin and Monaco and on to Cap d'Ail, Eze, Beaulieu and our destination for a day on the water: a tiny bay off Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat but that was on Monte Carlo Daily Photo.

28 July 2010

La Mer - Leaving Port

A mass of boats with the Old Town in the background and then... we start to leave the port.

Tomorrow: Rounding the Lighthouse.

27 July 2010

La mer

It's incredibly hot and humid in Menton at the moment, so let's get out on a boat, cool down, and see what the town looks like from the sea.

First tho, we've arrived in the port of Garavan which is just before the Italian frontier.

26 July 2010

The Three Bulldogs

This guy works at a dress stall opposite the market.

Left to right: Lady, Churchill and Petula. Woof-woof.

25 July 2010

Hot Conversation

Sitting on this ancient stone bench under the plane trees in Place aux Herbes should keep these gentlemen cool.

Do you suppose they are complaining about the heat or talking about something deep and meaningful?

24 July 2010

Beausejour - Yvan and Naïla

The Beausejour restaurant in the medieval village of Gorbio has been in the same family for four generations.

Yvan's wife Naïla uses her artistic flair to create a beautiful ambiance. Note the courgette plants growing outside and below, a ladybird appears on a leaf! And I love the flower pot declaring their love.

23 July 2010

Beausejour - Menu in the Mirror

Not only is Yvan's wife, Naïla, the chef at the fabulous Beausejour restaurant in Gorbio but it is she who is responsible for the beautiful decor, inside and out. At the moment pots of courgettes (zucchini) are growing outside the restaurant and here is a simply placed mirror that reflects the vegetation.

The writing on the mirror proposes La Farandole, a mix of Gorbio specialities. Click on the link to take a look.

22 July 2010

The Parvis of Prince Honoré III

This is the parvis of the Basilica. Parvis means 'square in front of the church. '

In 1757 Honoré III of Monaco used white and black pebbles to create the mosaic which represents weaponry and the Grimaldi's coat of arms. The curved 'H' signifies Honoré III. Menton, of course, was ruled by the Princes of Monaco until the French revolution.

After centuries of feet, the tops of some of the pebbles are worn totally flat. The photo below was taken very near the entrance to the church.

On the other hand...a few years ago we had massive flooding in Menton and the rampes (the steps leading up to the Parvis) and also perhaps the parvis itself, had to be restored. The flooding had lifted many of the pebbles. So perhaps the reason the tops of some pebbles are perfectly flat isn't the effect of centuries of wear but of fairly recent renovation and brand new cut stones. I prefer to think it was caused by feet over the centuries!

21 July 2010

Going to Seed

Agapanthus are everywhere in Menton at the moment. In the photo below you see them in the beautiful gardens of the Serre de la Madone. The close-ups - and going to seed - are in my garden in Gorbio.

This is a South African plant that is more than happy in the south of France. It's a member of the lily family, hence the common name of African Lily or Lily of the Nile.

20 July 2010


Two young girls having a night out on Bastille Day at L'Olimpo, an Italian restaurant on the pedestrian street.

Why do young girls smoke?

19 July 2010

The Imaginary Friend

The Place aux Herbes is the perfect place to 'people watch.' Sit on the centuries old stone benches and enjoy the shade of the plane trees. It's incredibly hot and humid in Menton at the moment.

This little girl fascinated me. When she wasn't with her father, she ran about the square, hiding behind one of the trees (see below) and sometimes seemed lost in her own thoughts but of course she was playing with and talking to her 'imaginary friend.'

When you were a child, did you have an imaginary friend?

18 July 2010

The Sundial Artist

The back wall of the ancient Château in the village of Gorbio has a newly restored sundial - or scratch dial to be technically correct (thanks Alex). With so much digital technology it's nice to tell the time by the sun - at one time the only way to know.

In the lower photos you can see the artist working on it. See how the Château seems to grow out of the rocks that support it.

Thanks to Barbara Pfieffer for the photo on the left, which shows the original sundial - or what was left of it.

17 July 2010

Fête Saint Pierre - the Blessing at Sea

The boats are full - Saint Peter himself, the priest, the mayor - all ready to sail out into the bay for the blessing of those who died at sea.

This is our last day at the Festival of Saint Peter. Thanks so much to everyone who came along for the ride.

16 July 2010

Fête Saint Pierre - the Embonpoint

This gentleman has grown a large moustache and an even larger embonpoint but looks like he needs help fixing his life jacket...

15 July 2010

Fête Saint Pierre - the Gendarme's Daughter

This adorable little girl - and the bump on her head - is safe in her father's arms and about to board the boat.

So far as I can ascertain his hat and the number of stripes signifies that he is a commandant of the police gendarmerie which is the military police in France. If I've got this all wrong, perhaps someone will correct me. You don't often see this traditional gendarme's hat in Menton - at least I've not seen it except on a ceremonial occasion such as this festival.

14 July 2010

Fête Saint Pierre - Embarkation

The procession arrives at the port. Three boats are ready. Into the first goes Saint Peter, the priest, the mayor and other dignitaries. Soon the boats will go out into the bay for the blessing of those who lost their lives at sea.

You can see a closer view of the little dog on Riviera Dogs today.

13 July 2010

Fête Saint Pierre - the Helping Hand

Looks like Saint Peter needs a helping hand to support him as he's carried down the many steps from the Basilica to the port.

Tomorrow: Saint Pierre goes on a boat trip.

12 July 2010

Féte Saint Pierre - Exuberance

Four year old Wilamena is having the best fun running around the wonderful space that is the Parvis in front of the Basilica as she waits for the church service to end. Later, she and her sister - we met them two days ago - will lead the procession through the town.

'Exuberance is beauty' ~ William Blake

11 July 2010

Fête Saint Pierre - the Dignitaries

Outside the Basilica, the Mayor of Menton, Jean-Claude Guibal poses with his wife, Senator Colette Giudicelli alongside the statue of Saint Pierre and surrounded by the fishermen and in the lower photo, the priest.

The Basilica is to the left of the photo - out of shot. At the top of the steps you see part of the beautiful Chapelle des Pénitents Blancs which was built between 1680 and 1687.

10 July 2010

Fête Saint Pierre - the Folk Group

These adorable children led the parade with beautiful folk music. The two children on the left in the main photo are English and spend most of their time in Menton where they attend school. Wilamena is 4 years old and her sister Martha-Lilly, with the amazing long hair, is 10. Martha-Lilly, by the way, is a talented flautist and another time I'll show photos of her playing with students from the Conservatoire of Music in Menton.

Their parents are the well-known Cornish artists John Dyer and Joanne Short. Click on the link to see their beautiful art depicting life in the south of France. Their next exhibition takes place in Cornwall from the 18th July.

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