30 September 2010

The Church's New Facade - Revealed!

Drum roll...the finished facade. I took this shot yesterday afternoon but even so was about 10 minutes too late and so there is some shadow across the lower right hand corner.

The small photo on the left shows the facade against the old wall on the side of the church - and below, you see the facade, after preparation of the surface but before any work was done. The colours were hung from the scaffolding for the villagers to see.

Tomorrow is Theme Day on CDP but after that we'll pop back here to the inauguration of the facade when the place was full of bishops and mayors and other dignitaries and most importantly, Monsieur Zanatta who created this masterpiece.

29 September 2010

The Church's New Facade - Saint Roch

The idea was to show you the finished facade today. At this time of year, the sun hits the facade around 15h.00 and so at 14h.30 yesterday I was there, tripod at the ready. Then the sun disappeared and the sky totally clouded over. I took some photos regardless but am not pleased - so I'll go up to the village again today and hopefully you'll see the finished facade tomorrow.

Meanwhile, this is one I took a week or so ago of one of the two 'statues' depicted in trompe l'oeil. They are either side of the church door. One is of Saint Roch and one of Saint Lazaire, protectors of the village, and they are inspired by sculptures in the church.

There is a Chapel Saint Roch on one side of the village and a Chapel Saint Lazare on the other - each built to protect the village in medieval times.

28 September 2010

The Church's New Facade - From a Distance

This photo was taken from outside the medieval village. We see Monsieur Zanatta at work and in the smaller photo, his assistant, Madame Sauvage. How hard it must be to paint with arms above your head and in the summer heat. These shots were taken in mid-July.

27 September 2010

The Church's New Facade - the Drawings

These are the intricate drawings that are fixed to the facade to ensure each tiny measurement is exactly reproduced. You can see the result in the photo below. Monsieur Zanatta said that the upper level of the church took the longest and was the most intricate.

26 September 2010

The Church's New Facade - The Assistant & her Dog

Today we meet Monsieur Zanatta's charming assistant, Madame Evelyne Sauvage - and her dog! He wouldn't want to fall off the scaffolding but then obviously he's used to sitting happily alongside his owner whilst she does her delicate and beautiful work.

25 September 2010

The Church's New Facade - The Frescoist

The main work was done by Viotti & Soulier of Monaco and today we see Monsieur François Zanatta, the brilliant décorateur fresquiste (frescoist decorator) at work - a true artist. You'll meet him again, of course.

These photos were taken in the middle and end of July - the red hanging is to protect the work from the intense summer heat - and the workers!

Tomorrow, we'll meet Monsieur Zanatta's assistant.

24 September 2010

The Church's New Facade - Taking Shape

It's a month later. Yesterday's photos were taken in May - these in June. The background colours are on and if you look carefully at the top left hand corner of the facade, you can see the trompe l'oeil taking shape. This is shown in close-up below.

The artist works from the design in the smaller photo.

This shot of the church was taken one evening when we all went in and listened to the blissful strings of Arco Musica - click on the link.

23 September 2010

The Church's New Facade - Testing the Colours

The surface is now finished - the final coats are based on lime and powdered Carrera marble. All the preparation has been done as it would have been in the 17th century.

The facade has had the right amount of time to dry, which, because of our incredibly heavy spring rains this year, put everything back by two months. During this time the facade was covered by heavy plastic fixed over the scaffolding.

The framework of the windows is in place.

Below you see the design that was chosen and over the next days we'll meet the artisan, and his assistant, who will be creating the trompe l'oeil - you see him on the scaffolding. Meanwhile, he has tested the colours - top photo.

22 September 2010

The Church's New Facade - Preparing the Surface

The other evening Gorbio celebrated the inauguration and blessing of the new church facade but we are going back to the beginning - six months ago - so we can see each step of the work in progress and at the end, we'll see an incredible work of art.

Gorbio's church (the photo below shows it before the renovation) was built in 1694 but, at the time, the village was poor and the masons, who came from Sospel, were never fully paid and so the facade was never finished.

Last year, the inhabitants of the commune of Gorbio (the village and the valley) were given the chance to vote on one of six designs. Tomorrow I'll show you the winning design.

In the main photo and the small photo (taken in April), the render has been removed, right back to the original stone. Now the facade is being covered in several layers of enduit (a special coating) ready for the artisan to start his work on the trompe l'oeil design.

Do come back tomorrow...

21 September 2010

Bar du Cap

Place du Cap at 8 p.m. The nights are getting shorter. At the Bar du Cap you can have a drink before dinner or stay for the evening and eat - they serve simple good food - and very cheap.

20 September 2010

The Animated Crib

It's easy to walk past this doorway in the village of Gorbio but if you notice it, wonders await.

The sign says Crèche Animée which means 'animated crib.' You put your hand through the bars, flick the switch and suddenly the lights come on and the village is alive - the children go up and down on a seesaw, the angel above the crib moves back and forth waving her light, the baker puts his bread in the oven, the cows get milked etc etc.

The ironwork gate is backed by a piece of clear perspex leaving just one small space for the hand to flick the switch or place the lens of a camera, so not easy to photograph.

This nativity scene, created by one of the villagers, Monsieur René Zumerli, is in place all year round and you can throw a coin onto the floor to help cover the cost of electricity if you wish.

19 September 2010

Les Parapluies de Gorbio

Lunch on the terrace of Le Beausejour restaurant in Gorbio - and it's raining. Rather than moving inside, this gentleman decided to use his umbrella...

18 September 2010

The Wine Glasses

It always surprises me how many glasses can be held in one hand. This waitress has already placed two on the table and her right hand is still loaded.

17 September 2010

Le Balico

Le Balico in Place aux Herbes was my favourite Menton restaurant for the nearly 20 years I've lived here so I'm really sad that the owners, Franck and Anne-Marie have sold the place.

Sadly a place is never the same with a change in ownership and without a patron on the premises.

16 September 2010

The Pose

This lady looks as if she is posing for a photograph, doesn't she? In fact she was in conversation with friends whilst waiting for an exhibition to open at the gardens of La Serre de La Madone.

15 September 2010

Studio 29

Summer is almost over but a few visitors remain. It's 22h00 at a bar near Place du Cap.

This is for my friend Catherine in Paris who remembers this bar when it was called l'Alba.

14 September 2010


We're at the 20th Journées Méditerrranéennes du Jardin at a stall selling garden ornaments. You don't really expect to see a couple of cranes or a stag in Menton!

In the photo we are looking towards Roquebrune-Cap-Martin.

13 September 2010


Hibiscus in the Old Town.

'Beautiful and brief
Is your stay above
The late summer leaf . . .'

~ Agnes Ware

12 September 2010

The Flower Pot Man

Yesterday and today Menton celebrates the 20th Journées Méditerrranéennes du Jardin - a massive garden fair held on the Esplanade Francis Palmero in Menton.

One section is devoted to children - here we see designs created by kindergarten children and topped by the flower-pot man.

11 September 2010

The Mill

An old mill in Gorbio - currently undergoing restoration as a private dwelling. There are several mills around here, restored, but not used for their original purpose.

Thanks to my friend Don (The BOOTboys) who helped me clamber up two steep levels to get this shot and more importantly, get down to the track again!

10 September 2010

Free Airconditioning

A window in the medieval village of Gorbio.

09 September 2010

Guns and Handcuffs

A policeman in Ventimiglia, just across the Italian border. A reminder that the beauty and tranquillity of the French and Italian Rivieras sometimes gets disrupted.

08 September 2010

The Gobelin Tapestry

This beautiful tapestry was made by a famous Parisian company called Gobelins in the 17th century. It was created for Louis XIVth and is part of a series called 'The History of Alexander.'

It hangs in the Museum of Beaux Arts in the Palais Carnoles in Menton.

07 September 2010

Cat's Cradle

'Who among us hasn't envied a cat's ability to ignore the cares of daily life and to relax completely?

~ Karen Brademeyer

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