31 October 2010

Des Res - in need of TLC

In need of a little work, don't you think? This old house is in one of the main streets of Castellar, an old village above Menton.

30 October 2010

Christophe - the Potato, Onion and Garlic Man!

Christophe is a fixture at Menton's indoor market. You want a specific variety of potato, he'll have it. You want to know the best potato or onion for a specific dish, he knows the answer.

And more than that, Christophe has a cheery word for everyone and never stops smiling. And it doesn't hurt that he's good looking too!

29 October 2010

Moving the Beach

This digger is pushing the beach back into the sea. It's exactly where Menton meets Roquebrune-Cap-Martin and is where the river that comes down the Gorbio valley meets the sea.

28 October 2010

Behind Bars

'What do you fear my lady?'

'A cage. To stay behind bars until use and old age accept them and all chance of valor has gone beyond recall or desire.'

~ J.R.R.Tolkien - Lord of the Rings

27 October 2010

The Pharmacy Restaurant

Of course it's not a pharmacy restaurant - simply that when the pharmacy closes for the day the restaurant alongside has somewhere to place extra tables for the evening. We're in the pedestrian street near to the Place du Cap.

26 October 2010

Too Big for the Church

The cross that is too big to go into the church. Inside are all 250 Penitents and their banners but this brotherhood, from Vallecrosia in Italy, have already been blessed by the Bishop and now view the service from outside. As it was they had difficulty getting the cross through the medieval archway leading up to the village and the mind boggles as to how they transported it from their village in Italy to Gorbio. It was quite a sight though and enjoyed by everyone.

25 October 2010

The Cross that is Too Big

We're back in the medieval village of Gorbio today because I want to tell you the story of the cross that may be too big to get into the church.

This is a gathering of 250 Penitents from all around the region. Each order holds a banner except one from Vallecrosia in Italy which has an enormous ornate and heavy cross - but will it go into the church? We'll find out tomorrow.

24 October 2010

False Pepper

We're in a pretty corner of Roquebrune village today. This is a faux poivrier or False Pepper tree - Schinus Molle if you speak Latin. It produces pink peppercorns which can be used in cooking.

23 October 2010

The Dryer

The village of Castellar - and how to dry your clothes in the rain.

22 October 2010


There's something about a scene like this that reminds me of my first visit to Paris. I suppose I was around 17. I fell in love with France then - and forever - adored the cafés and bars and as you see, nothing much has changed!

21 October 2010

October on the Beach

A lone group on the Sablettes Beach.

20 October 2010

Back to Back

Back to back at the Bar du Cap. Wouldn't it be fun if they turned around and said Hello...

19 October 2010

The Pose

Today we are back on the port for the Newfoundland demonstration that took place a week or so ago. This lovely dog was sitting on the rocks with his owner and a young lady asked if she could have a photograph taken with him. Her husband snapped away...and so did I!

18 October 2010

Floating in the Blue

'How sweet to be a cloud, floating in the blue'

~ A.A.Hodge

17 October 2010

Place aux Herbes

A corner of my favourite square in Menton - Place aux Herbes.

16 October 2010

The Bishop's Ring

It's not often you see a bishop in Gorbio. This is Monseigneur Sankalé, Bishop of the diocese of Nice who was in the village for the gathering of 250 penitent brotherhoods from around the region.

Note his beautiful hands and immaculately manicured nails, unlike the hands of the priest we saw the other day. Does a bishop have a manicurist? And then there is the ring - many people kissed his ring that day.

For the service in the church, he changed from these beautiful robes to those of white and gold and with a gold mitre on his head. These bishops sure know how to dress to impress.

15 October 2010

The Chanel Handbag

Penitents come in all colours, white, black, red and occasionally with a Chanel style handbag, as you see in the smaller photo.

14 October 2010

The Penitents of Saorge

A couple of weekends ago there was a gathering in Gorbio of 250 Penitents from Nice, Monaco, from the hinterland around here and along the coast. It's only once in every ten years that it comes to Gorbio - so an important day for this medieval village.

It started with a procession through the village followed by a service in the church presided over by no less a personage than the bishop. Later lunch was served in one of the village squares.

In this photo we see the Penitents Blancs of Saorge. Saorge is a beautiful perched village in the Roya valley, way way above Menton.

13 October 2010

Black Dog

We're back in Gorbio village - a dog, the church's new facade and, unfortunately, dog poop. Happily more and more people are picking up after their dogs - plastic bags are provided and I believe there is a law if you don't. Someone missed this bit though...

The dog is Dunya - a 7 year old Labrador/German Short-haired Pointer mix. She was re-homed from a Belgian refuge 6 years ago and now lives in Brussels and in Menton. Black dogs are difficult to photograph but I was pleased with the close-up you can find on Riviera Dogs - the light was just right.

12 October 2010

The Unlit Cigarette

He's searching his pockets, looking for a match...which he eventually found.

11 October 2010

Dining in the Rain

A plastic cover - et voila! - you can dine outside when it's raining.

10 October 2010

A Courtyard in Castellar

Castellar is an ancient perched village 6 kilometres above Menton. It sits on a narrow ridge with steep valleys on all sides.

Here's a pretty courtyard on the main street - on the right is the entrance to a small atelier selling pottery.

09 October 2010


'I often think that the night is more alive and more richly colored than the day.'

~Vincent Van Gogh

08 October 2010


One more day with these amazing Newfoundlands - life-savers of the sea.

Mind you, whilst the dogs can jump into the sea, rescue people, pull boats, do all sorts of wonders, in Menton they all needed help getting out of the sea and onto the rocks. Owners need to be strong - these are very heavy dogs, especially with their coats full of water.

For anyone interested, more photos of Newfies will be on Riviera Dogs for a good few days yet.

07 October 2010

The Sea Rescue Dogs

Last weekend in Menton we had three days of 'Métiers de la Mer' - which introduced young people to careers relating to the sea.

The display by a training club for dogs and owners who save lives at sea - 'Terre-Neuve 06' - had us all entranced and at times in fits of laughter. Terre-Neuve is French for Newfoundland (the black ones). The black and white variety of Newfoundland is called a Landseer. They came from all over this part of France including one from Menton.

In the first photo the dog demonstrates how he swims with a person in distress clinging to his life-jacket. In the smaller photo, the dog pulls in a boat! And in the last photo, one jumps off the jetty. More photos on Riviera Dogs.

Tomorrow we'll see how these big dogs got out of the water - not easily...

06 October 2010

The Artist

Our last day in Gorbio - finally the story of the church's new facade comes to an end. It's part of the village now and visitors are surprised to learn it's new - it gives one the feeling it's been there for several hundred years.

This is the man responsible for its creation - Monsieur François Zanatta, the artist/frescoist who has worked for six long months painting the facade. Such a nice man and so self-effacing - when I tell him what a brilliant artist he is, he'll say 'Oh no, it's what I do.' But as you can see in the small photo, I'm not the only one who feels the need to congratulate Monsieur Zanatta for the great job he and his assistant have done.

The company Viotti & Soulier from Monaco employ 20 artists/artisans who produce work of this quality. It's so good to know that the old skills - trompe l'oeil, false wood and marble effects, restoration of old friezes etc are alive and well.

So - finally - we get to the end of this series. It's taken rather too long and I do thank everyone who stuck with the story. Your comments have kept me going!

Tomorrow, Menton and the joys of the water!

05 October 2010

The Benediction

It's dusk and we are witnessing the benediction of the new facade of l'Eglise Saint Barthélemy in Gorbio.

This series on the new facade has taken a long time and much as I adore Gorbio, I'm getting fed up with looking at the pics. You probably are too!

So, tomorrow, we meet the most important person - the artist responsible. And after that - back to Menton.

04 October 2010


Everyone admires and discusses the church's new facade.

I was intrigued by this lady's beautiful grey hair.

03 October 2010

The Inauguration - the Dignitaries

The village has gathered and is listening to its mayor, Monsieur Michel Isnard. He thanks the various organisations within the state, the region and the department, in particular the one responsible for patrimony. There was also a public subscription and 102 families within the village and commune of Gorbio made donations.

Later the mayors of Menton and of Roquebrune-Cap-Martin spoke - all in praise of course as tonight is the inauguration of the beautiful new facade of l'Eglise Saint Barthélemy - 327 years after the church was built, when it couldn't afford to have it done.

It's dusk and the figures could be a little sharper but at least this sets the scene. The chairs are for the elderly, the infirm and of course the dignitaries in the front row - the mayors and clergy.

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