31 December 2008

Christmas on the Port of Monaco - The Man who Drank too Much

Enjoy New Year's Eve everyone - and don't end up like this guy!

For an update on Mistral and Mama Mia, the Hell Hole dogs who arrived at Pension Milou yesterday - please click on the link.

30 December 2008

Christmas on the Port of Monaco - the Lady in the Olive Tree

In one corner of the Christmas Fair, you'll find these strange olive trees for sale. A portion of the tree, that has presumably died back, has been carved and waxed. Here you see a lady growing out of the tree.

For anyone interested, today is a BIG DAY at Pension Milou as we are adopting two dogs rescued from a Hell Hole. Shut in a roughly 2 metre square run for 8 years, never let out and never cleaned out. Yes, living on 8 years of excrement. They were lifted out of there yesterday and are currently en route to me from the Languedoc - should be here in a few hours! Obviously, I've not met them - the first dogs given a home by email! If you want to follow the excitement please read more on Postcards from 'Pension Milou.'

29 December 2008

Christmas on the Port of Monaco - Crèche Neopolitan

There is so much detail in what you see but I doubt the photograph does it justice. It's one of the 160 nativities on display at the Christmas Fair. Somewhere in this, there is a baby!

28 December 2008

The Christmas Eve Swim - Prince Albert and Woolite, the Sheep

Readers of Menton Daily Photo will have met Woolite, the sheep before. She is the mascot of Les Foulées Roquebrunoises and runs with the group and swims in the sea - always with her proud owner, Philippe Mazza. Thankyou, Philippe (who you see in the smaller pic) for both photographs.

Taken just before the 4th Bain de Noël on Christms Eve at Larvotto Beach, you see Prince Albert in the centre of the photograph, wearing sunglasses and green shorts under his Father Christmas robe. The swim was in aid of TATSA (Thai After Tsunami Schooling Aid). Woolite was proud to swim in the sea in such exalted company.

This was reported live on television - to view the video, to see everyone including Prince Albert, swimming in the sea and to hear the Prince speak, click on the link.

To see Woolite swimming in the sea please click on this link.

27 December 2008

Christmas on the Port of Monaco - Crèche Italienne (Imperia)

Another beautiful Nativity - one of 160 on display at the Christmas Fair on Port Hercule.

26 December 2008

Christmas on the Port of Monaco - the Donkey Ride

The Donkey by G. K. Chesterton

When forests walked and fishes flew
And figs grew upon thorn,
Some moment when the moon was blood,
Then, surely, I was born.

With monstrous head and sickening bray
And ears like errant wings—
The devil's walking parody
Of all four-footed things:

The battered outlaw of the earth
Of ancient crooked will;
Scourge, beat, deride me—I am dumb—
I keep my secret still.

Fools! For I also had my hour—
One far fierce hour and sweet:
There was a shout around my head
And palms about my feet.

25 December 2008

Christmas on the Port of Monaco - Crèche Polonaise

This simple and beautiful crèche is one of the 160 different nativities on display in Port Hercule. It was made in Poland, the figures being almost life size and made of straw.

Merry Christmas to everyone!

24 December 2008

Christmas on the Port of Monaco - Crèche Romantique Italienne

This is one of the 160 beautiful Crèches du Monde (Nativity Scenes of the World) currently on display at the Christmas Fair at Port Hercule.

Some scenes are tiny, some almost life size and all are impressive. They are on loan to the Mairie of Monaco, from the collection of Fabienne Mourou. The collection was started by Fabienne's mother 40 years ago and is dedicated to her.

23 December 2008

Christmas on the Port of Monaco - the Waffles

These two young ladies were sitting on the steps watching the skaters, chatting and eating waffles. I snapped the smaller photograph first and then asked the girls, who live in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, if they'd pose, which they did - and with such beautiful smiles too.

As you see, it's not all 'Mediterranean diet' in the south of France and Monaco!

22 December 2008

Christmas on the Port of Monaco - a Rink with a View

This is the swimming pool (now a skating rink) in Port Hercule - the Christmas Fair is behind us, the yachts ahead. The Monaco Grand Prix runs around one side of this famous swimming pool.

(Apologies for the skaters being out of focus but it was dusk and I needed a tripod, which was way down in an underground carpark and I really had to get home to feed the dogs. Well, that's my excuse...)

Click on the link to see the pool in its setting on the port - added bonus: see Sally from Sydney Daily Photo taking a swim.

Tomorrow, we'll meet a couple of rink-side spectators.

21 December 2008

Christmas on the Port of Monaco - Mulled Wine

Let's have a glass of mulled wine before we start exploring the Christmas Fair. It's cold - we need it.

Oh, alright then, we'll have another...

20 December 2008

Christmas on the Port of Monaco - the Carousel

Back to Port Hercule in Monaco for the Christmas Fair, which this year has some great displays - in particular, many beautiful and different nativity scenes from around the world.

If you want to have fun, you can go way up on the Big Wheel, you can ice skate on the covered swimming pool, ride a donkey, buy all sorts of wonderful goodies and eat yourself silly.

Today though, to get us in the mood for the fair - a beautiful carousel. It would seem to be an old carousel, beautifully restored but perhaps I'm dreaming and it's brand new?

Tomorrow, let's have a glass of mulled wine...

19 December 2008

Eze Village - the Perfume Bottles

In the large entrance to the Fragonard factory are several displays of old perfume bottles and other paraphernalia that relates to the making of perfume. Not quite sure where the fans come in?

18 December 2008

Eze Village - Fragonard

We're still in the gardens and looking down, this time on the Fragonard perfume factory. This is a branch of the factory in Grasse, a town famous for its perfumes. This factory makes soap and face creams - the perfumes are made at their main branch in Grasse.

The main photograph shows the shop at the entrance to the village. The smaller photograph shows the factory which is way below the village. You can take a tour - it's great - you learn about perfume making, and you can buy their products which are very good. I was amazed at how popular this tour is. Many visitors to Eze come, not only for the beauty of the village and the gardens, but to visit Fragonard. Click on the link to read more.

17 December 2008

Eze Village - the Jardin Exotique - the Goddess

Another goddess, more spikey plants set amongst the grandeur of the surrounding hills. To read more about the sculptor, Jean-Philippe Richard, please click on the link.

16 December 2008

Eze Village - the Jardin Exotique: the Roof Terrace

A roof terrace with a view. This is just below the gardens and looking in the direction of Italy.

And for the eagle eyed amongst you (note the washing on the line) the photographs were taken on different days.

15 December 2008

Eze Village - the Jardin Exotique: the Moyenne Corniche

We are at the top of the gardens (see yesterday) and looking down on the Moyenne Corniche. There are three 'corniches' running along the French Riviera: the Basse, that runs along the sea - then the Moyenne. The third is the Grand Corniche and this is reached via the road you see on the top right hand corner - going to the Col d'Eze. And of course there is the autoroute which is the highest road of all.

Think of some of the films made in the south of France and you'll have seen sports cars zipping along one of these 'corniches.' For example - To Catch A thief with Grace Kelly and Cary Grant (see the small photo).

To get an idea of how high we are - and to see this same part of the Moyenne Corniche, but taken from the Grande Corniche - click on the link.

14 December 2008

Eze Village - the Jardin Exotique: the Rock

Little hands testing the rock at the top of Eze. Old rock, worn smooth after centuries of use, this is just along from the castle ruins.

Note: this batch of photographs were taken in October - you'd need more clothes today AND an umbrella.

13 December 2008

Eze Village - the Jardin Exotique: Isabeau

There are many 'Earth Goddesses' throughout the gardens - the work of the renowned sculptor, Jean-Philippe Richard.

'He has been exploring the mysteries of femininity, in his studio in Miribel aux Baronnies in the Drôme since 1990. His women glow with eternity, whether they are made of bronze, crystal or earth. The artist calls earth "the dust of stars" and uses this raw material to bring them to life. These delicate, sensual and mysterious earth goddesses live in harmony with the plants of the Garden of Eze.'

Isabeau -

Le sol me retient,
Et alors!
J'ai la tête au ciel.

Though the ground keeps me rooted
My mind is in the heavens.

12 December 2008

Eze Village - the Jardin Exotique: the Castle Ruins

Only two small areas of an imposing castle built on top of the rock of Eze now remain. Built in the second part of the XIIth century by the family of Eze. It belonged to Provence and the fortress was guarded by the Castellans.

In 1706, during the war of succession of Spain, Louis the XIV ordered the destruction of the castle on the recommendations of the Minister for the war : " Sir, the King having seen the strategic situation of the castle, between Villefranche and Monaco, His Majesty the King gave me the order to destroy this castle, in order to be able to preserve this communication ".

What you see in these two photographs is all that remains.

The history of Eze though, goes back much further as fragments have been found proving that Eze was inhabited as far back as the Iron Age.

11 December 2008

Eze Village - the Jardin Exotique - Château Eza

An added joy of visiting the Jardin Exotique is the view - here we are looking down on the Château Eza, one of the two fabulous hotels in the village. The other is the Chèvre d'Or which is slightly further down the village.

10 December 2008

Eze Village - the Jardin Exotique: the Plants

The gardens are beautifully laid out as you can see in the small 'plan' on the left.

Some plants, furry and spikey at the same time, are extraordinary. The plant in the foreground above is called Cleistocactus Strausii and originated from Bolivia and Argentina (see close-up below).

A plant is called a succulent when it stores water to withstand dryness. The Garden of Eze has succulents from Africa and America that are well-adapted to arid climates. The water is stored in the fleshy parts - mostly the leaves and stems. These plants developed tricks to limit evaporation: smooth skins, sometimes covered with wax, hairs and thorns, instead of leaves. Many succulent plants, cacti and sisal (agaves) in particular came to Europe at the time of the great Discoveries. The first cactus is believed to have been brought back by Christopher Columbus but it was not until the Renaissance that these plants were studied and understood.

The first sisal (agave) was imported in the XVIth century and when it blossomed, it was several metres high and was considered quite a marvel at the time. General Weber, a member of Maximilian of Austria's expeditionary force in 1865, was one of many to whom we owe the presence of agaves on the Riviera. Today, cacti, agaves, aloes and euphorbias are a fundamental part of the Riviera landscape.

09 December 2008

Eze Village - the Jardin Exotique: Statuary

We've walked to the top of Eze village - if you look at yesterday's photograph, it will give an idea of where we are. The Jardin Exotique is right at the top and everywhere we see cacti and succulents, including agaves and aloes - and amongst them, the sculptures. This is one of Jean-Philippe Richard's 'Earth Goddesses.'

At the end of the Second World War, the current mayor arranged for soil and stones to be carried to the top of Eze village and placed around the Roman ruins (we will see these later) and with the assistance of Jean Gastaud, the founder of the Exotic Garden in Monaco, they created the Jardin Exotique of Eze.

08 December 2008

Eze Village - the Jardin Exotique: from the Grande Corniche

We're back in Eze village ready to visit the Jardin Exotique which is at the very top of the village. This is a photograph I took in the summer. We've parked at the level of the road you see bottom left - so you can see, by the time we reach the top of the village, we've walked quite a way.

Tomorrow - the gardens.

07 December 2008

Homeward Bound

Time to leave le rocher - one last look at the battlements - just below Fort Antoine - as we walk down towards the car park. In the distance you see Cap Martin and beyond that, Italy.

06 December 2008

Fête Nationale - the little Princess

Little girls are little girls, even if they are royal. Here you see Princess Alexandra with her mother, Princess Caroline - the eldest of Prince Albert's two sisters. Red stockinged foot through the balustrade, watching the excitement below.

In the smaller photograph you see Princess Alexandra with her father Prince Ernest August of Hanover and her half sister, Charlotte Casiraghi.

Both photographs taken by Maggie Calkins - thankyou Maggie!

05 December 2008

Fête Nationale - Prince Albert II

Here is Monaco's much-loved, Prince Albert waving at the crowds. This photograph was taken by my friend, Maggie Calkins, a professional photographer. She has a Canon EOS 40D.

I didn't know, at the time - (as Maggie did) - that the crowd rush forward and stand below the balcony - see yesterday's photograph. I'd stayed on the Press Stand. None of my zoomed shots are sharp enough. I ran forward too late and the one below is all I got. Taken in a rush and as you see, not remotely of the quality of Maggie's. You see Prince Albert with Princess Stephanie on the right. In the background, their nephew, Pierre Casiraghi, the son of Princess Caroline.

For anyone who doesn't remember, Albert, Caroline and Stephanie are the children of the late Prince Rainier and Princess Grace (formerly Grace Kelly, the American actress).

Tomorrow - more of Maggie's photographs of the Prince and his family. Thankyou, Maggie!

04 December 2008

Fête Nationale - Homage to the Prince

Probably the most moving moment of the Fête Nationale is when the barriers are pulled back and the Monégasque citizens and residents are allowed to surge forward, wave their flags and cheer their Prince.

Tomorrow we'll see some close-ups of the Prince and his family.

03 December 2008

Fête Nationale - On Parade!

Displays - marching - music - police, soldiers, firemen - lots of colour, lots of noise and a very enthusiastic crowd.

02 December 2008

Fête Nationale - the Crowd

A small (and young) part of the crowd waiting for Prince Albert II and his family to appear on the balcony.
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