28 February 2009

The Cellars of the Hôtel de Paris - the Corking Machine

As we wander this amazing cellar, we notice several old corking machines. Up until the 1930s, the Hôtel de Paris bottled all its wine, including the Premier Crus of Bordeaux and until the 1960s it bottled wines that had a quick turnover, such as Beaujolais.

Now, nothing is bottled except the old Cognacs which we saw on the first day of this tour.

Tomorrow is Theme Day in the City Daily Photo community and the theme is 'glass' - a perfect subject for us, I think you'll agree. So do come back to see something beautiful from this incredible cellar.

27 February 2009

The Cellars of the Hôtel de Paris - the Racks of Wine

We are still in the area of the cellar where the wine has been placed in racks according to its region of France (see middle photo) - Valley of the Rhone, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Loire, Provence.

The main photo, taken without flash, is very grainy I know, but actually that's how it was - an incredibly dimly lit cellar and quite magical. This shows wine from just one of the regions listed above. We are looking at one of the aisles leading off the main avenue in the middle photo.

The last photo shows a trolley used to transport the wine.

The cellar, being 10 metres below ground level, and hewn out of Monaco's rock, has a constant temperature and humidity level of between 75 per cent and 80 percent. Humidity preserves the quality of the corks. Iorio Gennaro, the Chef Caviste, describes the cork as the 'lungs of a bottle.' A dry cork lets air into the bottle and oxidizes the wine, which makes it undrinkable - i.e. corked.

26 February 2009

The Cellars of the Hôtel de Paris - Cases of Wine

Cases of wine as far as the eye can see. And we are not even in the very expensive area yet, where each bottle is priced at 800 euros or more, and certainly not in the very very expensive area where we'll find a Château Petrus at 12,000 euros. These joys are yet to come.

I wanted to show you these cases of wine first - just to give you a small idea of the amount of wine in the Hôtel de Paris' cellar - 650,000 bottles. We will go back later and look at the aisles of individually stacked bottles in their various French regions.

9 cavistes (cellarmen) work in the cellar full-time, the most important of whom is Iorio Gennaro, a Neopolitan, who has been Chef-Caviste since 1993. The cellars are owned by the SBM (Societé des Bains de Mer) who own all the great hotels of Monaco as well as 26 restaurants.

People think of Monte Carlo in terms of Casino/Grand Prix/Yachts but they forget it has a formidable reputation in gastronomy, having many Michelin starred restaurants for such a tiny Principality. Each morning, the sommelier of each restaurant puts in his order for the day's wines - all come from this great cellar.

More good things tomorrow...do come back.

25 February 2009

The Cellars of the Hôtel de Paris - the Cognac

We've been invited on a private tour of the famous cellar of the Hôtel de Paris in Monaco. This is a wine connoisseur's paradise in the largest hotel cellar in the world. 650,000 bottles of the world's finest vintages are stored in this vast cellar: 1,500 square metres hewn out of the rock of Monaco in 1874.

The cellars are not open to the public so this is a tremendous privilege. I was lucky enough to be included in a private visit arranged by my friend, Nicolas and I thank him so much for that - and of course, you are invited too.

A group of Nicolas' friends met in the Square Beaumarchais outside the Hôtel Hermitage - the entrance to the cellar is nearby. We enter an enormous commercial lift and descend 10 metres below ground. It took 100 artisans one and a half years to create this cellar with its one and a half kilometres of wine racks.

At the entrance stand four huge wooden barrels of cognac - one of which, a 'reserve premier empire' dates back to 1810. In the photos you see the Vieilles Réserves Hôtel de Paris and Vieille Réserve Louis Philippe.

You see can as we look beyond the entrance that each area of wine in France has its own section but we'll see that more clearly another day, so don't strain your eyes.

There is a lot of information to impart on this amazing cellar, so I'll write a little each day to illustrate the photographs. We have only just begun...do come back tomorrow.

I struggled somewhat with the photographs for this series. With the low lighting in the cellar, no flash didn't work - or rarely. Flash was too harsh but I learned a lot from it and what I could have done - so apologies in advance.

24 February 2009

Nathalie's Apartments

Unattractive apartments galore in Monaco, seeming to grow out of the hillside.

This photograph is by Nathalie from Avignon in Photos. (see yesterday's post on Menton Daily Photo to read about her visit)

We were up on the Rocher, looking down over the harbour. These apartments surround the port, so they have a wonderful view. But look closely and amongst the horrid buildings you find the odd gem. Sadly, when these villas come up for sale, they are often knocked down to make room for yet another massive apartment block.

The late Prince Rainier III was known as the 'Builder Prince' and it was during his reign that Monaco grew so massively. He built, for instance, the area of Monaco known as Fontvieille on land reclaimed from the sea. At Fontvieille, you find some beautiful blocks of apartments, not like these.

This is a view of Monaco I'd probably never have shown you, simply because I don't like it. Nathalie shows you the truth!

Tomorrow: We visit the famous cellars of the Hôtel de Paris - this is a treat not to be missed!

23 February 2009

Nathalie's Bentley

Fellow CDP Blogger, Nathalie from Avignon in Photos has long been an inspiration to me. I love the detail in her work, her shadows and her reflections. I love her photography. Recently Nathalie came to visit - you'll find a photograph I took of her on Menton Daily Photo today and can read more about the great time we had together.

Here is Nathalie's Bentley, taken on le Rocher in Monaco. Nathalie sees shadows and reflections before anything else and this is a perfect example of what I love about her work.

On Avignon in Photos today you'll find shots Nathalie took of Gorbio village, near to Menton.

Tomorrow you'll see another of Nathalie's photographs on Monte Carlo Daily Photo and it's something I would never have photographed. Do come back and see what it is!

22 February 2009

The Ballerina

The gardens below the casino feature many sculptures, notably Botero's Adam & Eve. Here we see a ballerina silhouetted against the sea and lit at night.

For anyone interested, you'll find an update today on Mia and Mistral on 'Postcards from Pension Milou.'

21 February 2009

Monte Carlo Gentlemen (10) - the Socks

A wall in the gardens below the casino in Monte Carlo. A good place to read a book in the sunshine.

20 February 2009

What Credit Crunch?

There is a watch in this shop in Casino Square worth 1 million euros. This could well be it.

Frankly, it strikes me as an obscenity.

19 February 2009

Garnier's Opera House

We are looking at the rear of Monte Carlo's famous casino which includes an opera and ballet house.

The old Casino buildings were torn down in 1878 to make room, in less than 6 months, for the building of a new complex. Gambling was temporarily moved to the Hôtel de Paris. It was Charles Garnier who, after building the Paris Opera House, was to be in charge of the construction of the Théâtre du Casino and its large gaming room. He gave the building its present-day allure by crowning it with a cupola and two pinnacles. Sarah Bernhardt was the first to star at the Opera, where she recited a poem while waving huge palm branches, on January 25th, 1879.

The steps are a good place for a picnic lunch.

18 February 2009

The Second Childhood

You don't have to be a child to enjoy feeding the ducks. This couple are enjoying themselves in the Casino Gardens. Good for them.

Just wish she wasn't wearing a fur...

17 February 2009

The National Museum - the Pianist Harpist

This is another automaton and was made around 1870 by the Maison Vichy. This company existed in France from 1862 - 1904. In fact all the manufacturers of automatons ceased production with the First World War, except one, that of Maison Descamps.

On the 1st March, the Villa Sauber, the building that houses this magnificent collection of dolls and automatons will close for 4 months during which time it will be restored to its magnificent Belle Epoque glory and will re-open as the New National Museum of Monaco in July.

The display of Madeleine de Galea's collection of dolls and automatons won't be displayed until the end of 2010. Many need restoration having deteriorated during the 30 years they have been displayed. When the collection is re-opened to the public, there will be even more dolls and automatons on display and more of the later will be demonstrated to the public. There have always been too many to display at the same time and so in future parts of the collection will be rotated so all can seen at one time or another.

16 February 2009

The National Museum - the Monkey Orchestra

'Automaton - a device, which under the form of an organized being, hides inside springs that enable the latter to make movements imitating acts of a living body,' Diderot and d'Alembert Encyclopedia, 1790.

The collection of 80 automatons brought together by Madeleine de Galea is a perfect illustration of the Golden Age of these objects, dating from 1850 to 1915. These miniature works of art are essentially the fruits of the four most famous manufacturers at the time: Descamps, Lambert, Phalibois and Vichy.

The automatons made at the end of the 19th century were luxury toys designed for adults. They were displayed in the home as artwork although intended to amuse friends and family alike. They embodied at the time both social success and innovation.

Here we see part of the Monkey Orchestra, made by Phalibois in 1890.

The Villa Sauber today houses some of the most beautiful automatons ever created and at certain times of the day some are activated for the enjoyment of visitors to the Museum.

15 February 2009

The National Museum - Madame de Galéa + a Jumeau Doll

If you were a doll collector, you'd be drooling looking at this photograph.

In 1870, Paris counted sixty-nine doll manufacturers, among whom were Seiner, Rohmer, Clement, Bru and Pierre Francois Jumeau. This is a Jumeau doll. Note the painted eye brows and the pierced ears. (Apologies for the mark on the photograph - actually on the glass of the cabinet, I believe).

On the left, you see a portrait of Madame Madeleine de Galéa (1874 - 1956) by Auguste Renoir, painted in 1915. She always dressed in flimsy materials like this, tulle and muslin.

She was born on the Island of Reunion and lived there until she moved to Paris at the age of 18, to settle with her mother. Soon after her wedding to the diplomat Edouard de Galéa, she started to show interest in art but it wasn't until she was an early widow did she dedicated herself to her passion as a collector. She loved the period of Napolean III and incessantly searched for objects and furnishings from this era. She had an ample collection of tin soldiers and automatons, which were stylish at the time and an attraction to the world of fashion further inspired a vast collection of china dolls as well.

Madame de Galéa completed her doll collection with scaled miniature furniture and decorative objects of the period. After a few years she extended her interest to automatons and soon her villa was no longer large enough to house her collection and so she acquired the house next door. Her greatest pleasure was to invite guests to take tea in her town house and then introduce them into the strange magic world of the neighbouring house.

Following her demise, Madame de Galea's grandson donated the majority of her treasurers to museums. He gave to the Louvre in Paris, the bedroom of the Duchess de Berry, and numerous dresses went to the Galliera Fashion and Costume Museum.

The remaining collection of dolls and automatons, which is massive, was given to Prince Rainier of Monaco and they found a permanent home in 1972 at the Villa Sauber, now known as the National Museum.

Tomorrow - the automatons.

14 February 2009

The National Museum - the Tea Party

This display is called The Tea Party. The doll featured in the main photo has a wooden body under those clothes. Note the Napolean III furniture imitating bamboo - we see the miniature chair, for instance, through the harp.

I cropped the main photo from the one seen on the left simply because of the reflections caught in the glass. If you'd like to see more of the dressed dolls, please click on the smaller photo to enlarge.

Tomorrow, we meet the lady who collected all these dolls, Madame de Galéa - and we see a Jumeau doll.

13 February 2009

The National Museum - the Dolls

The exhibition has dozens of beautiful doll displays, not to mention the automatons which we'll see another day. Here you see bodies and heads of the dolls before they are dressed.

The doll collection assembled by Madeleine de Galéa is homogeneous and apart from a few 18th century wooden dolls, clothed in muslin dresses, the collection joins together works from the mid-19th century, with heads in composite material and bodies made of skin, which are sometimes called 'Pauline' by collctors. These dolls boast heads of shiny porcelain or biscuit (matt porcelain), the production of which took over from polished porcelain.

12 February 2009

The National Museum - Villa Sauber - la Belle Epoque

The Villa Sauber is the National Museum of Monaco. It houses the famous collection of Dolls and Automatons.

The 'Belle Epoque' (1890 - 1914) was distinguished by its exuberance and exaggeration in every field. Architecture was no exception to this phenomenon. The Second French Empire was marked by a strong urban development where an eclectic style drawn from the French was developing. The Cote d'Azur, with luxury hotels mushrooming, showed numerous architectural examples of that era.

The Villa Sauber, which houses the Galea collection, is a model of the genre and was built by Charles Garnier, architect of the Paris and Monte Carlo Opera Houses.

11 February 2009

The National Museum - Dolls & Automatons - Charlot

This museum used to be known as the National Museum of Automatons & Dolls of Yesteryear. Now it's simply the National Museum of Monaco but the permanent exhibition, known as the Galéa Collection, is still that of the dolls and the automatons which are wondrous. Then there are temporary exhibitions, the current one being Botero's circus paintings - we saw a few of those last month.

Come visit the museum over the next days. We'll look at the beautiful Belle Epoque building itself, the Villa Sauber, and see some of the sculptures outside and of course a few of the wonders inside and I'll tell you about Madame Madeleine de Galéa.

Today, we see a display just inside the entrance where we pay to go in.

10 February 2009

Grimaldi Forum - a View

Yesterday we saw the Gemballa cars outside the Grimaldi Forum. We have walked a few steps on - the sloping walls of the building are on our left and we see a decorative pool reflecting some palms and beyond you see the peninsula of Cap Martin reaching out to sea.

See those tall palms on the left. They stand in front of a restaurant/bar. Click on the link to see a pic I took about 18 months ago, whilst the wonderful Grace Kelly Exhibition was on.

09 February 2009


Every now and again Monte Carlo Daily Photo presents a photograph of a rather special car or a leggy blonde - this, you understand, to satisfy a certain male readership of this blog. We aim to keep all our readers happy, so today, meet a few of the Gemballa cars, displayed outside the Grimaldi Forum on Avenue Princesse Grace.

For we mere mortals, I understand that a Gemballa is a sort of super Porsche that looks amazing and goes very very very fast. Price seems to be well in excess of $300,000. I read in one article that a Gemballa is the wet dream of every Porsche enthusiast! So you get the picture...

These photos show a Gemballa Avalanche GTR 600 and a Gemballa Avalanche GTR 650 EVO-R. The last car is a Gemballa GT Aero 3 Sport Exclusive,which, being bigger, is I suppose what you buy when you've met the leggy blonde, married her and have 2.5 gorgeous children.

If I've made any mistakes over the names of these cars, please will someone tell me and I'll change the copy. The leggy blonde is your problem.

08 February 2009

Apollon Oblitéré - Sasha Sosno

Apollo Obliterated, was created in aluminium in 2007. It stands in the gardens of the National Museum of Monaco on Avenue Princesse Grace. Please click on scupltor, Sasha Sosno's website to see more of his work and to read his bio.

07 February 2009

The End of the Croissant

Breakfast for two at the bar of the luxurious Centre Métropole in Monaco.


Today is Monte Carlo Daily Photo and Menton Daily Photo's 2nd Birthday! Two years in which I've learned so much, not least that I'll never use a normal handbag again. A camera bag has replaced it! Why doesn't someone make a pretty camera bag for the evening?

I'm so lucky to live in such a beautiful part of the world but it's photography that has taught me to really 'see' the beauty everywhere. What a gift! And it's been the best fun to try and share it with you.

  • Merci to Eric in Paris, who started it all and without whom this amazing City Daily Photo community wouldn't exist. I'm so proud to be part of it.
  • Merci to Demosthenes and Igor, who work so hard to keep us all up and running.
  • Merci to many amazing photographers who inspire me every day and special thanks to one who answers my endless questions with so much patience and generosity!
  • Merci to friends who have visited (either in reality in Menton, or via the Internet) and for your kind, encouraging and knowledgeable comments.

06 February 2009

The Winter Coat - 2

Winter coats are made for trees too - see yesterday's post. Many of the tender trees in Monaco are protected in this way during the winter months. This one is in Fontvieille.

05 February 2009

The Winter Coat

The port of Fontvieille - and a coat that caught my eye!

"An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind" - Mahatma Gandi

04 February 2009

Heliport - the 20-Minute Trip

A helicopter flight from Nice to Monaco takes 7 minutes. Here you see one of the company cars advertising the St. Tropez trip from Monaco. Only 20 minutes - quick and stunningly beautiful by air. The same trip to St. Tropez by car, especially on that very windy road once you are off the autoroute, can take forever, especially in summer.

Five years ago a friend hired a helicopter, so he could photograph his house in Apricale (in Italy) from the air and I was lucky enough to be invited along. We met up here at the Heliport - no rude comments on the clothes and clogs! My friend wore a headset with a microphone so he could communicate with the pilot and everyone snapped away like crazy. As we flew home he told me to show the pilot where I lived so we could photograph my house but I couldn't find it. Everywhere looks different from the air! When I got home to Gorbio, friends in the village and my neighbour told me there had been a helicopter zapping around the valley...never did get that photo!

Update on Mama Mia and Mistral on Postcards today.

03 February 2009

Heliport - Men in Red

Maintenance workers at the Heliport clamber all over one of the helicopters.

In the smaller photograph, we see a group of them enjoying the antics of the circus tigers when they were here in January. The circus adjoins the Heliport. The men, not in red, are a television crew.

02 February 2009

Heliport - the Helipad

The Heliport is in Fontvieille, just near to the Circus Big Top, the beautiful Princess Grace Memorial Garden and the Columbus Hotel. It's a 7 minute ride from Nice airport and the cost of the flight includes a private ride to your hotel or home.

01 February 2009

Theme Day: Paths & Passages

To get to le rocher (the rock) you park in the car park cut deep into the rock way below. Then you take an escalator and then a lift (elevator). When you leave the lift, you can then take another escalator or walk up this pretty pathway which leads to the beautiful Musée Océanographique above. An attractive way to exit a carpark, I think you'll agree.

Today, being the 1st of the month, it's Theme Day on City Daily Photo (Paths & Passages) and as always there will be a myriad of wonders to see on blogs throughout the world. Please click here to view thumbnails for all participants
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