Thursday, 29 September 2011

SDP on tour ... Menton covered market

The covered market in Menton, built in 1898, has some beautiful belle epoque decorative flourishes.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

SDP on tour ... people watching in Menton

...watching you, watching of the greatest pleasures in life : sitting in a cafe watching the world go by.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

SDP on tour ... a sunny wall

High above Menton, this sunny wall is the perfect spot for plant pots, with a view to the blue Mediterranean.

I love the Marseilles tiles of the roof; these terracotta tiles were imported to Australia and for decades formed the basic roofing tile (albeit differently shaped) of much of the country. People used to remark that when they flew into Sydney there was a carpet of red tiled rooves below. Nowadays red roof tiles seem to be out of fashion, and there's far more grey, especially in the newer, outer suburbs. People also re-roof older houses and seem to prefer the grey. Still, there's plenty to see in the older Sydney suburbs.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

SDP on tour ... Bouncing at the beach

What a great day! Summer fun combining a day at the beach and some bouncing. A perfect day, a perfect setting. For my wonderful friend Jilly's gorgeous portrait from the same event - click here.

Friday, 23 September 2011

SDP on tour . . . Menton's "old port"

The harbour at Menton provides a sheltered mooring for luxury private yachts and working vessels alike - right at the foot of the old town.

Above : A panorama looking across "Sablette" beach towards the wall and lighthouse in the background.

Left: The harbour wall extends away from the Bastion; at the end is a lighthouse.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

SDP on tour....Menton, looking from the Bastion

This shot was taken from near the Bastion (Jean Cocteau museum) shown yesterday. It is looking west. The Cape in the distance is Roquebrune-Cap Martin. The white tent near the sea is where the tango was being held, shown a couple of days ago.

For followers, I got distracted and missed a day of blogging, because my son finished high school and we went to his farewell assembly today!

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

SDP on tour . .. Jean Cocteau in Menton

Jean Cocteau (1889 - 1963) was a poet, novelist, dramatist, designer, playwright, artist and filmaker. He often visited Menton in the 1950s, and in painted the salle des mariages (wedding room) in the Town Hall in 1958. He was quite taken with this small 17th century bastion and had it restored. He created a small museum there; it was inaugurated as a museum in his honour three years after he died.

The bastion was built in 1619 by Honoré II, Prince of Monaco, to defend the bay of Menton.
Belgian-born American collector Severin Wunderman decided to donate part of his art collection, which includes many by Cocteau, to Menton. The local council undertook to build a suitable museum, which is under construction now, at the foot of the old town, by the water, and near the bastion.. It includes also a collection on Sarah bernhardt and the theatre as well as modern paintings by artists such as Modigliani and Miro.

I think the museum is going to be quite spectacular, and look forward to being able to visit at some time in the future.

Monday, 19 September 2011

SDP on tour ... The beach at Menton

If you know me, you know I love to swim, and love the beach (avoiding sunburn, or course!). Menton has a lovely stretch of beach, the Mediterranean water is warm in summer, and perfect for swimming (not surf swimming, but actual swimming!)

The only regret I had as I stroked out from shore was that I had left my waterproof camera at home (pack light!) but the shot below gives a sense of what it was like looking back to the beach.

Keep an eye on that rather interesting building with the geometric white columns - more tomorrow!

Sunday, 18 September 2011

SDP on tour . . . Tango in Menton II

During the Tango Festival (seen yesterday), there's dancing outdoors in the beautiful evening air.

If I could dance, this is something I'd love to do. Unfortunately, I'm the definition of unco-ordinated.

Still, it's lovely to sit at the cafe, sipping a drink and watching....

Saturday, 17 September 2011

SDP on tour ... tango in menton

Every year Menton hosts a Tango festival: Ma Ville Est Tango. You can have lessons in the tent along the sea front, or display your skill by dancing in competitions, or even in the outdoors (which I will show tomorrow). Ladies....if the moment takes you, and you have no shoes, never fear - tango shoes are on sale....

Friday, 16 September 2011

SDP on tour... fireworks in Menton

In the evening of 14 July - French national Day, I went out with Jilly and some of her lovely Menton friends : John, Piera and Donald, and a visitor from paris, Mark. We sat on the beach at a Spanish restaurant and ate (not very good!) paella, were entertained by a Spanish band, and talked and laughed a lot. It was a fabulous night, under the gorgeous summer Mediterranean sky, and topped by a terrific fireworks display - I chose some favourite shots to combine into the collage above, and hard as it was to choose - I think the single shot above was my favourite overall - the colour combinations, lack of smoke trails and clarity.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

SDP on tour . . . le tricolore in Menton

On French National Day, le quatorze juillet, the French flag - the tricolore is out in abundance.  The friends I was with told me that, unlike many countries where individuals fly the flag, or even wrap themselves in it, every day, in France the only day the flag can be flown other than in official places, is 14 July.  Hence, the picture at left is a once-a-year-opportunity.

So, what's the history of the red, white and blue flag of France? According to Wikipedia:

"Blue and red are the traditional colours of Paris, used on the city's coat of arms. Blue is identified with Saint Martin, red with Saint Denis. At the storming of the Bastille in 1789, the Paris militia wore blue and red cockades on their hats. White had long featured prominently on French flags and is described as the "ancient French colour" by Lafayette. White was added to the "revolutionary" colors of the militia cockade to "nationalise" the design, thus creating the tricolour cockade. Although Lafayette identified the white stripe with the nation, other accounts identify it with the monarchy.[3] Lafayette denied that the flag contains any reference to the red-and-white livery of the Duc d'Orleans. However, this myth did allow Orleanists to adopt the tricolour as their own.

Blue and red are associated with the Virgin Mary the patron saint of France, and were the colours of Charlemagne's ensign and war cry, "Montjoie". The colours of the French flag may also represent the three main estates of the Ancien Régime (the clergy: white, the nobility: red and the bourgeoisie: blue). Blue, as the symbol of the bourgeois class, comes first and red, representing the nobility, comes last. Both extreme colours are situated on each side of white referring to a superior order.

Lafayette's tricolour cockade was adopted in July 1789, a moment of national unity that soon faded. Royalists began wearing white cockades and flying white flags, while the Jacobins, and later the Socialists, flew the red flag. The tricolour, which combines royalist white with republican red, came to be seen as a symbol of moderation and of a nationalism that transcended factionalism."

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

SDP on tour ... revolutionaries, citizens and dignitaries

I'm in Menton at the Town Hall watching the official celebrations on le quatorze juillet - La Fête Nationale - commonly called Bastille Day in English (but never in French).

After several speeches, a parade of military and communal helping services personnel - firefighters, cops, paramedics, and uniformed youth groups, a pageant of 'revolutionaries' ended the official function.

Vive la France!

Below, the "lady on the bus" from yesterday, who seemed to be one of a dozen or so people on the Town Hall steps representing the citizenry of la republique.

And of course, no official function is complete without the dignitaries who view the parade and make the speeches.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

SDP on tour . . . 14 July - ladies on the bus

On the bus from Gorbio to Menton - we're headed to the 14 July celebrations. Remember that lady in the hat - we'll be seeing her again!

Monday, 12 September 2011

SDP on tour ... Ulysses in Menton

This bronze sculpture of Ulysses (Greek: Odysseus) is by Anna Chromy, a Czech sculptor.

Chromy says: "This “Ulysses” in precarious balance symbolizes our continuing fight with destiny. We cling desperately on to the steering wheel in hope to steer a clear course, but destiny mostly decides otherwise and washes us onto unknown shores."  See here.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

SDP on tour ... the Maritime Alps

The southwestern part of the Alps are called the Maritime Alps (Alpes-Maritimes). In this part of the world dramatic mountains plunge towards the sea. In yesterday's photo you can see the dramatic setting of Menton at the foot of the mountains, lapped by the sea.

They are heavily incised with deep valleys, and lots of gorgeous hilltop towns, such as Gorbio and Roquebrune.

I never cease to be amazed at the engineering ingenuity which allows the construction of these autoroutes in the sky, high above the passes of the Alps.

There's lots of great walking up there too.