31 January 2009

Circus! - Botero

The last day of this circus series so let's see some more of 'Fernando Botero & the Circus.'

It seems from comments on the posting a couple of days ago that whilst most love his work, one or two found the expressionless faces on his obese figures somewhat disconcerting. I did a search on this and found this:

"Once you get past the size of the figures, though, perhaps the oddest thing about Botero's style is the blank, expressionless looks on his figures' faces. They appear distanced and distracted, providing a tabula rosa upon which viewers can project their thoughts and feelings.

There's this blankness to his figures that functions as a kind of mirror," said Don Bacigalupi, a former contemporary art curator for the San Antonio Museum of Art who is now the director of the Toledo Museum of Art in Ohio."

To read a fascinating article on Botero, including the words above, please click on the link.

There is a notice by the paintings saying that Botero was in Mexico when he saw a circus parading down the street. It wasn't a circus, as in Europe, but a poor circus that reminded him of those he saw as a child in Columbia. It was this that inspired this series of paintings and drawings.

30 January 2009

Circus! - the Popcorn, the Dog, the Children & the Tigers

We are outside the tiger enclosure. The dog doesn't take his eyes off a bag held by the child - a bag of popcorn.

No one is holding the dog's lead but then a labrador isn't going anywhere when popcorn is around...

29 January 2009

Circus! - Fernando Botero & the Circus

To coincide with this year's Festival of Circus, the Nouveau Musée National de Monaco Villa Sauber has mounted an exhibition of the paintings of Columbian artist, Fernando Botero. His figures, as always, arevwonderfully obese - even the animals. The exhibition is open until the 1st March.

Several of Botero's fabulous sculptures are displayed in the Principality. You can see Adam & Eve and Woman Smoking a Cigarette by clicking on the links.

28 January 2009

Circus! - the Supermarket

Part of Carrefour, the big supermarket in Fontvieille. And why show a boring image of a supermarket check-out, I hear you ask? Well, as you see it's decorated in honour of the circus festival, as were many other shops in the Principality. With so many acts from so many different countries coming to Monaco to compete for a prize, it's considered one of the most prestigious circus events in the world.

27 January 2009

Circus! - the Big Top

The Big Top in Monaco is actually known as the Espace Fontvieille. That's because it's in Fontvieille, which is the land in Monaco totally reclaimed from the sea.

The Espace Fontvieille (literally the Fontvieille Space) welcomes the Festival of Circus every January but for the rest of the year it's used for exhibitions, for the annual dog show, horse events, trade fairs, church bazaars. Rarely is it out of use.

The Big Top has four poles that support the enormous roof (you see two in the smaller photograph) and it's 58 metres in diameter. It can accommodate just under 4000 people. There are many smaller tents that adjoin the Big Top to give even more space. Click on the link to see a photograph taken from above.

26 January 2009

Circus! - the Performing Dogs

The Performing Dogs were kept in three separate exercise areas along the walkway where we saw the catering vans.

Look at the intensity in this little one's eyes.

You are see more of these lovely Circus Dogs on Riviera Dogs today and over the coming days.

The dogs come from Germany and are part of Wolfgang Lauenberger's Performing Dogs. See photo below - not one of mine, but taken, with thanks, from the non-official Festival International de Monte Carlo website. If you want to see photos of other circus acts performing in Monte Carlo, this is the place to go.

25 January 2009

Circus! - Coffee and a Cigarette

Outside the Circus Café. Talleyrand wrote this about coffee:

Black as the devil, hot as hell, pure as an angel, sweet as love.

24 January 2009

Circus! - the Television Crew

They decided to film in front of the boutique - changed their minds and filmed with the circus van behind the journalist.

This van is used to carry the clowns around, even Princess Stephanie got in at the end of the free outdoor performance on Port Hercule.

23 January 2009

Circus! - the Elephants' Home

I wonder if these elephants know that this tent, where they sleep, is alongside one of the most expensive apartment buildings in Monte Carlo?

22 January 2009

Circus! - the Elephants

There were three elephants and their accommodation is near to the heliport. You can see the circus tent in the background. We are in Fontvieille - on land reclaimed from the sea.

The elephants look content and well fed, although I have no expertise. They've got a few tree trunks to move about. I remember last year seeing one of the elephants rocking back and forth, which perhaps indicated stress. Not so, this year.

Tomorrow, we see where the elephants sleep during their stay in Monaco.

21 January 2009

Circus! - the Boss Man

He has an air of a circus man - a certain swagger. His velvet cord shirt is embroidered with horses, yet he walks comfortably around the tigers.

I got the feeling he's probably the 'boss man.'

20 January 2009

Circus! - Pigtails

Some of the horses had long flowing hair in beautiful condition - you could almost see them shake their head and say 'Come up and see me sometime.' This beauty sported several plaits. Isn't she gorgeous? Actually, I've no idea if she is a she or a he or an it but certainly this horse is a beauty. There are 15 horses are part of the Troupe Giona.

The great day has finally arrived! Barack Obama, an intelligent, charismatic, charming, thoughtful man brings change and hope to America and so to the rest of the world. Happy Inauguration Day, Mr President.

19 January 2009

Circus! - the Lunch Queue

The circus arrives with its own catering facility. Here you see the circus workers, from those who clean out to the animals to the stars of the show. Each has a lunch ticket and once they've collected their lunch, they'll eat in the tented area beyond.

Every area around the Big Top is used for the circus animals. The elephants are by the Heliport, the tigers and horses are just at the back of the tent itself. Here we've walked past the Columbus Hotel, past the Princess Grace Memorial Gardens and along a walkway by the sea. We are looking towards Italy - you see Cap Martin in the distance. Not a bad place for lunch. Bon appetit!

18 January 2009

Circus! - Roger & the house-trained Tigers

Meet Roger Flack, the trainer and tamer of the tigers. Well-fed and in great condition, the seven tigers eat 200 kilos of red meat a day.

You see them playing in the smaller photo. If you enlarge it, you'll see a wooden frame just below the large wheel. The tigers squat over this box to urinate. It stands, presumably, over a drain. Well they are cats, after all and that's what cats do but it hadn't occurred to me that circus tigers would be house-trained. They are!

17 January 2009

Circus! - Tiger, Tiger

The circus is in town! This is the 33rd International Festival of Circus at Monte Carlo and it's considered the most prestigious event in the circus world, with acts from all over the world competing for the coveted prizes.

This festival was started by the late Prince Rainier III. Princess Stephanie of Monaco, youngest daughter of Prince Rainier and the late Princess Grace, is known as the Queen of the Festival - she opens it and she takes a massive interest in everything going on, including overseeing the care of the animals. You see her darting about all the time, a big smile and 'Bonjour' to all the Artistes of the Circus.

Today we see the tigers - seven, including three white tigers - in an enclosure just outside the circus tent. (Click small photo to enlarge) They were playing like kittens and all in magnificent condition. I get upset when I read of circus animals living under poor conditions - not so these. They obviously adore their trainer and it was a privilege to be so close to these magnificent creatures.

Do take a look at Tamarindo Daily Photo and David's post on the Las Pumas Rescue Centre. You'll see a marvellous photograph of a beautiful jaguar.

Tomorrow - we meet Roger, their young trainer.

16 January 2009

Kermesse Oecuménique - the Snack Bar

So many people giving of their time for this charity event. Loads of tasty snacks for people to buy at a very reasonable price.

And a great group of people willing to pose for a photograph. One called another, 'Come on, time for a photograph,' and in no time everyone was ready. Smile!

Today is the last day of the Kermesse pics. Tomorrow - something large and very dangerous.

Update on Mama Mia and Mistral - please click on the link.

15 January 2009

Larvotto Beach - Blue on Blue

We're breaking away from the Kermesse for a day because I want to show you Larvotto Beach taken the day before yesterday. Calm weather, as you see and sunshine, although it's still a little chilly.

High up on the hill and in the distance, you see the luxurious Vista Palace Hotel with its helipad, and further down, you see the Monte Carlo Bay Resort which we saw the other day - from the opposite direction - when we were at the tennis club.

Today though, a deserted beach to enjoy. Blue on blue.

14 January 2009

Kermesse Oecuménique - the Face Painting

The idea was to show you the two great ladies who do the Face Painting at the Kermesse, but unfortunately, the pics are useless as I'd not used the flash. Next year!

On the other hand, here is one of the little girls who'd just been painted.

Isn't it hard sometimes to decide which is the better of two photographs? I really couldn't choose between these two. In the smaller one, she is more relaxed and natural - yet there is an enthusiasm I like in the first one. Which do you prefer?

13 January 2009

Kermesse Oecuménique - the Tea Ladies and Gentleman

Meet a great group - the Tea and Coffee Ladies and Gentleman - oh, plus one child. You can see they are getting ready to have a fun day. They could be at a village fete in England, couldn't they? Not inside the circus tent in Monte Carlo. There's something so 'British' about a biscuit tin, not to mention the teapots.

Everyone who works at the Kermesse is run off their feet. I bet this group didn't look as bright as this at the end of the day as they do here. I believe all in this photograph are British. Yesterday's Garden Ladies were a mix of French and Scandinavian.

12 January 2009

Kermesse Oecuménique - the Garden Club of Monaco

Each year, before Christmas, there is a Kermesse Oecuménique held in the chapiteau (circus tent) in Fontvieille. A kermesse is a charity bazaar - this one is in aid of six different charities in Monaco.

There are 25 stands with 200 volunteers selling clothes, gifts, bric a brac, jewellry, toys, home-made food for Christmas, household items - we'll meet more volunteers and see more stands over the coming days. Everything is donated and often you find great bargains and, it being Monaco, of good quality - for instance, in the clothing section it's not hard to find designer clothes if that's your 'thing.'

The Kermesse is also a cosmopolitan rendevous for people of all nationalities who live in and around Monaco - the Brits, the Germans, the Italians and the French, of course and many other nationalities too - so it's a great day out in aid of charity and to meet up with friends. The stands are placed in a circle (ie following the shape of the circus tent) and in the centre are 60 tables and I can tell you the food is always great at this event. I always make a beeline for the second-hand bookstall which has thousands of English books.

I was invited to get there early to take photographs of all the standholders. A bit daunting as photographing inside the tent isn't easy. There are a few harsh lights and no natural light at all. I decided to take each photograph with and without flash but only the ones taken with flash worked. As I went around and got chatting to people - many of whom I know and are friends - of course I forgot the flash - duh! but over the next few days I'll show you a few photographs of the great people who give up their time and effort for this very worthwhile charity event.

Here are the great ladies of the Garden Club of Monaco.

11 January 2009

The Olive Lizard

This is an even stranger olive tree than yesterday's bird as you see by its aerial roots. And can you spy the carved lizard? Again, it's part of the tree and is dead centre in the photograph. In the background, yachts in the harbour of Monaco.

To see another carved tree - a manatee, no less - take a look at Fort Lauderdale Daily Photo

10 January 2009

The Olive Bird

Here's another of the carvings made of olive wood. It's not carved and then stuck onto the tree, but is actually part of the tree - a dead branch, carved into a bird. These were on sale at the Christmas Fair in Menton. To see The Lady in the Olive Tree please click on the link.

09 January 2009

Like Mother, Like Child

This mother and child were looking at the donkeys at the Christmas Fair on the port of Monaco. I was struck by the exact same expression they have on their faces - the look, the way they purse their lips.

08 January 2009


An apartment block with its balconies reflected in the mirrored exterior of an office building - just behind the main port of Monaco. I didn't realise how the reflection was jumbled up until I saw it on the computer screen and thought it quite interesting. Mind you, you'd not want to have had too much to drink, would you?

Update on Mama Mia and Mistral on Postcards from 'Pension Milou.'

07 January 2009

View from the Monte Carlo Country Club - 3

During the Masters Series Tennis, these poles will be ablaze with flags of many nations. Today, just one.

To see exactly where we are, please click on the link and look at the smaller photograph - you can then see this pathway which leads from the restaurant toward the parking area below.

There is a Caption Competition on Menton Daily Photo today!

06 January 2009

The Monte Carlo Country Club - the Restaurant

The restaurant of the Monte Carlo Country Club. The walls are filled with framed photographs of famed tennis players.

Note: The story of yesterday's villa is now unveiled. Please read again the copy that went with that photograph if you are interested.

05 January 2009

View from the Monte Carlo Country Club - 2

Look east from the Monte Carlo Country Club and you see this impressive house on the Moyenne Corniche in France. It's called Villa Varavilla and was built in 1891 by Camille Blanc, who was the first Mayor of Beausoleil. His father, François Blanc, was known as the 'Magician of Monaco' and was the first president of the SBM (Societé des Bains de Mer). He created, with Prince Charles III of Monaco, the famous Casino of Monte Carlo, from which much of Monaco's wealth originated.

In the smaller photograph (you might need to click to enlarge) you can see M.C.C.C. in the turf above the main court. In just over three months all the tennis greats will be playing here.

04 January 2009

The Monte Carlo Country Club

Today, a different viewpoint. We are looking down on the Monte Carlo Country Club from a vantage point on the road above - actually in France. (Photo taken in September)

Just beyond the tennis courts, and facing out to sea, are the terraces and restaurant of the Country Club. That's where I took yesterday's photograph.

The building you see with three towers - out on the promontory - is the opulent Monte Carlo Bay Hotel & Resort which opened in late 2005.

Interestingly, there was a multi-billion dollar project to reclaim an enormous area of land from the sea, thereby increasing the size of the Principality. Only a few weeks ago, Prince Albert announced, because of the recession, it wouldn't be happening. The choice of design had already been reduced to two well-known architects - Sir Norman Foster and David Liebeskind. Monaco is only 2 square kilometres in size and it would have increased this by 20% with a beautifully shaped peninsula jutting out to sea in front of Larvotto Beach, which is just beyond the Monte Carlo Bay Hotel. Click on the link to read the full story.

For an update on Mama Mia and Mistral please click on Postcards from 'Pension Milou.'

02 January 2009

View from the Monte Carlo Country Club

The Monte Carlo Country Club is what I think of as the tennis courts. It's where, in April, the Masters Series is held and when all the famous names in tennis descend on the Principality - if they don't live here already that is, and some do.

This is the view from the Country Club restaurant. We're looking at the Monte Carlo Beach Hotel which is undergoing some sort of winter restoration. In the distance you see the restaurant, La Vigie. My neighbour's father used to work here on the motorboats that arrived with the rich and famous. Sadly, that lovely man is no longer with us, but his wife, who is in her 80s now, is a delight and raps me over the knuckles when she corrects my bad French - which is often. When she tells stories of their lives in Algeria before they had to come to France, she giggles and laughs like a child. I learn a lot from her and not just about the language.

Tomorrow - the Country Club.

The Car from Nassau

What caught my eye about this car is first of all the number plate - 50005 - and then that it's registered in Nassau in the Bahamas. Long way to bring a car, I thought. It was parked at the prestigious Chèvre d'Or Hotel in Eze village.

This posting is for Gail's Man at Nottingham Daily Photo who is somewhat Monte Carlo car deprived at the moment...Happy New Year, Gail's Man! I think this is a Mercedes. Right?
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