31 August 2010

Saint Michel

A plaque depicting Saint Michel on a wall of one of the buildings that make up the beautiful facade of the Old Town. And of course the Basilica, which stands behind these houses is named for Saint Michel.

You often spot plaques depicting Saint Michel as you walk up the narrow streets to the cemetery.

30 August 2010


As the sun floods through a window of the church in the medieval village of Gorbio, it perfectly illuminates the sculpture. Church designers and those who placed the sculptures hundreds of years ago knew what they were doing.

29 August 2010


This plant grows wild around here - it readily seeds in walls and gardens but you find it in Menton's famous gardens too - this was photographed at Serre de la Madone, so whilst it may be a weed, it's obviously appreciated by the professional gardeners there.

'Whether you tend a garden or not, you are the gardener of your own being,
the seed of your destiny.'

~ The Findhorn Community

28 August 2010

Waiting for Autumn

A corner of Place aux Herbes, one of my favourite squares in Menton. The leaves on the plane trees cast their shadows as they almost hide the 'tabac' sign - but they are beginning to dry - to curl up. Soon autumn will be here.

27 August 2010


Doesn't she have a beautiful face and serene expression.

At the Fête Patronale de Saint Barthélémy this nun was waiting to walk, with the crowd, into the old village and up to the church.

'Smiling always with a never fading serenity of countenance, and flourishing in an immortal youth.' ~ Isaac Barrow

26 August 2010

The Blessing

This is Père Broal who is officiating at the Blessing of the Animals in Gorbio village. In the smaller photo you see two of the Pénitents Blancs who assist in the ceremony. Apart from a lot of dogs, there was also a horse (normally there are lots of horses) and a duckling!

The dogs - a drooly Newfoundland today - are currently making an appearance on Riviera Dogs.

Click to enter yesterday's Caption Competition.

25 August 2010

Caption Competition!

We've not had a Caption Competition for a long time and this photograph seems suitable!

Followers of Menton Daily Photo will know that a chicken strung up on a pole and the Golden Apple stuck with coins is part of the Fête Patronale de Saint Barthélémy that takes place in Gorbio village each August.

In medieval times two chickens were strung up by their feet, hung on a stick and offered to the curé. Today, they are put into a string bag and at the end of the ceremony returned to their owner. The tradition of the Golden Apple goes back to medieval times when the nobles made an offering to the church.

But the caption need have nothing to do with this snippet of history - the funniest or wittiest or cleverest wins a postcard of Menton or Gorbio - or both! Results next Tuesday.

24 August 2010

Early Learning Centre

We are at La Pergola, the restaurant on the beach in Garavan. This Italian baby, like most babies, is fascinated by her father's sunglasses. When she grows up she'll doubtless demand Gucci and Prada and large designer sunglasses.

'What we found was that girls who wear the large, designer sunglasses appear more attractive to members of the opposite sex.' ~ Neil Sedlak

23 August 2010

Cats and Technology

'What if it were cats who invented technology, would they have TV shows starring rubber squeaky toys?' ~ Douglas Coupland.

For sure they wouldn't have invented texting...

22 August 2010

One for the girls...

Our last day at the Flamenco Festival in Gorbio village, so here's a photo for the girls - one handsome young man - and below - the whole group - dancers, guitarists, singers. You'll recognise - 2nd from left - the flamenco teacher, Madame Cortes.

Thanks guys, you were fabulous!

And if you missed the TF1 video that featured the fabulous Gitane Flamenco in the village, click HERE and scroll down. (only 2.19 minutes and well worth it)

21 August 2010

'Rumberos' - Liturgical Chants

At 6 p.m. the village church was packed - standing room only. The Rumberos entered - two guitarists and two singers and we were treated to sensational singing of liturgical chants. The emotion in the voices, the incredible volume and the vibrant guitars. It was fabulous.

20 August 2010

For the Love of Flamenco!

It's mid-afternoon on the third and final day of the Flamenco Festival in Gorbio. This young dancer is doing her thing just for the joy of it. The musicians are playing, the singers are singing, ostensibly for the sound check but actually all of them are dancing, playing, singing because they LOVE it!

Stupidly I didn't go up on the Friday evening and Saturday was rained off. So on Sunday evening there wasn't a seat to be had so the best I can offer you is this video shown on French television - TF1. It lasts just over 2 minutes minutes but you'll see real flamenco and some lovely shots of the medieval village of Gorbio. Enjoy! Do click on the link below. I won't be missing it next year!

Veuillez installer Flash Player pour lire la vidéo

19 August 2010

'Fideuà Gitane' and the Mayor's Headache

It's 15.30h and the 'Fideuà Gitane' is cooking for the 500 people expected tonight. There are three or four of these dishes already underway.

Fideuà is a Valencian noodle and is a dish typical of that part of Spain. It's similar to Paella but instead of being served with rice, it is served with noodles.

Meanwhile, the Mayor of Gorbio (left) is tearing his hair out! Last night the Flamenco Festival was cancelled as we had incredibly heavy rain for hours. Tonight he has all the people with tickets from last night (400) wanting a seat (and a meal), along with those who have booked for tonight! In the end 500 meals were served as presumably some of those from last night didn't turn up.

18 August 2010

'Rumberos' - the Warm-up

It's afternoon on the last day of the Flamenco Festival. We've visited the flamenco classes and have now wandered up to the Place des Victories in the village (normally the carpark!) which this evening will welcome 500 people to dine, to listen to guitar music and singing and of course to watch fabulous flamenco.

On stage, there is a sound call going on and lucky me got to hear some fabulous guitar music and sensational singing. This is Léo Trevino who we'll be seeing along with the rest of the Rumberos when they sing liturgical chants in the church at 18.00h.

17 August 2010

Isabel Cortes - Flamenco!

This is Isabel Cortes, the flamenco teacher, noted flamenco dancer and also co-organiser of the three-day event.

The intensity and passion in the face, the hands, the feet, the body, the dance - flamenco!

The Flamenco Festival is a three-day event in Gorbio and unfortunately, on the Saturday night (with 400 people booked for the Paella Géante) it fell down with rain all afternoon and into the early evening. The Mayor had no choice but to cancel, so the next evening, which was the last evening of the festival, no seats were available. Next year I'll get there!

The Festival includes guitar groups and gitane music and singing in the church - so do come back tomorrow.

16 August 2010

The Flamenco Class

Each year Gorbio holds a Flamenco Festival - this is the bigger Fete Day of the year in the village with hundreds of visitors arriving to hear the music and see the dancing. And the dancers are not 'tourist flamenco' dancers but the real gitane dancing.

Here we see Isabel Cortes giving flamenco classes in the village hall. Tomorrow - more of Mme Cortes, who is celebrated in the world of flamenco.

15 August 2010

The Couple

This sculpture stands in the gardens of the Palais Carnoles, Menton's Museum of Fine Art. It's called Couple and was sculpted in 1987 by Robert Juvin, a sculptor who fought with the resistance in the war and was later awarded the Croix de Guerre.

14 August 2010

Menton or Gisburn - the Renault Mégane Experiment

If you are British you've probably seen the new Renault Mégane TV advert which asks 'Can a car change a town?' and compares Menton with the Lancastrian village of Gisburn (population 500). The advert is based on a cleverly-designed spoof of market research: according to Renault, statistics show that towns with more Méganes, such as Menton are happier, have higher rates of fertility, and longer life expectancies.

The teaser ad shows a swimming pool in Menton contrasted with a puddle in Gisburn; a glamorous French couple sipping wine with a frumpy couple drinking tea from a thermos flask; and designer shoes with an old pair of slippers.

To put this theory to the test, they send Claude, a consultant in 'joie de vivre' to Gisburn, a village with no Méganes and apparently very little joie de vivre at all.... to conduct 'The Mégane Experiment'. The hapless Claude - a kind of Gallic Borat - tries to woo the locals with the chance to win a free Mégane, but receives in return only blank stares. To read MORE click on the link.

The advert caused a few ruffled feathers in Gisburn but Menton is more than happy to bask in the free publicity and Nice-Matin recently devoted the whole of its backpage (Menton edition) to the story.

Click on the following documentary to see the whole story. It lasts for eleven minutes but truly it's very funny - make a cup of coffee, sit back and do watch! Claude is amazing!

13 August 2010

The Icons of Elvire Mercatini - 2

Meet Elvire, the Menton artist who creates these beautiful icons. The photo below shows Elvire's interpretation of Les Tres Riches Heures du Duc de Berry (The Book of Hours).

And note the smaller photo which shows a little more of the beautiful Chapelle Saint Jacques which housed Elvire's work.

12 August 2010

The Icons of Elvire Mercatini

There's a tiny and very pretty little chapel in Garavan - right next to the Napoleon hotel - and often it's used for art exhibitions.

The artist is Elvire Mercatini who lives in Menton and creates these beautiful icons. We'll meet her tomorrow. The work is incredibly detailed and she applies 40 coats of paint to create the effect she wants.

Do come back tomorrow and meet her and take a closer look at the chapel.

11 August 2010

Boutchette and the Village Children

One of the many good things about living in a medieval village is that the children can play in total safety.

Here they are in the village square, playing with Boutchette, the Bassett Hound that belongs to Le Beau Sejour. Click on the link to see Boutchette a year ago when she was a puppy - adorable - she still is.

10 August 2010

Rosa Gigantea at the Clos du Peyronnet

Menton is famous for its gardens of which the Clos du Peyronnet is one of my favourites. Here's a pretty corner with Rosa Gigantea tumbling over a wall. The garden has been in the same family since 1912. For an interview with the owner, William Waterfield - please click on the link.

This was taken in April last year with my old camera, the Lumix FZ18.

09 August 2010

'You've got Mail'

Place du Cap.

'Electric communication will never be a substitute for the face of someone who with their soul encourages another person to be brave and true.' ~ Charles Dickens

'I think it's fair to say that personal computers have become the most empowering tool we've ever created. They're tools of communication, they're tools of creativity, and they can be shaped by their user.' ~ Bill Gates

08 August 2010

Vaïmater and the Duckling

Meet Vaïmater - a three year old daughter of the village and so proud of her baby duckling.

07 August 2010

The Washing Line

Washing hanging on a line in Gorbio village. With the warmth of the sun, it won't take long to dry. What is it about medieval villages and washing that is so fascinating? I'm forever photographing washing hanging below windows or on lines in gardens.

The smaller photo shows how far away the washing is.

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