30 April 2009

Jardin Exotique - Into the Light...

We're out of the grotto - we need light and blue and sun and colour.

29 April 2009

Jardin Exotique - Get Me Outta Here!

Time to leave. We've climbed 300 steps but with the heat in the cave, it's tiring - oh look, it's tiring anyway!

You can see the guide at the entrance, waiting for me. (He didn't mind) I was the last out because I'd held back to take a few quick shots with the self-timer. Those with flash simply hadn't worked.

Thanks for all the comments on the cave. Tomorrow we are back in the garden for a few more delights.

28 April 2009

Jardin Exotique - Last Look at the Grotto

Last day in the cave - these shots show some of the visitors so you can get an idea of the size of the grotto.

Animal bones have been discovered in this cave, which have enabled us to learn about the fauna, and thus the different climates of the Quaternary period. Red deer, Asian dogs, wolves and rhinoceros lived during temperate to hot periods, while reindeer, polar foxes and marmots related to cold or glacial periods.

The cave, interestingly, is always constant at 18.5 degrees and that's hot when you are climbing steps, which is what we are about to do tomorrow - we are on our way up and out!

27 April 2009

Jardin Exotique - Strange Forms

Coincidental with this series, I happened to watch a fabulous BBC programme the other day called Planet Earth in which the great David Attenborough was talking about stalactites and stalagmites. I'd not known how they form - you probably do - but if not, it seems water drips, drip, drips and the water contains calcite (calcium carbonate) - for each drop of water, the minutest amount of calcite remains and slowly builds until a stalactite or stalagmite is formed. If a stalactite and a stalagmite meet, then it's called a column.

They look so soft and slimy to the touch, don't they? In fact, they are really hard and not slimy - just wet - and strangely beautiful.

26 April 2009

Jardin Exotique - the Theatre of Magical Wonders

We are looking down at one of the main chambers in the cave. You feel as if you are in an amazing theatre - a theatre of magical wonders.

The cave is a major prehistoric site where excavations carried out between 1916 and 1920 discovered significant and very old archeological remains from three successive humanities. The Pre-Neanderthals (around 250,000 years ago) left us flints (tools in hewn stone), the Neanderthals (around 60,000 years ago) scrapers from fragments of flint, and Cro-Magnon man (from around 35,000 years ago) beautiful blades in flint and bone spear heads. All these peoples occupied the entrance to the cave, the inside of which was used as a larder.

25 April 2009

Jardin Exotique - Stalactites and Stalagmites

We have not yet reached the main cavern, but even here, as we continue to walk ever downwards, we see the columns and pillars, stalactites and stalagmites. This observatory cave is a natural cavity, created by the flow of rainwater which has dissolved the rock and enlarged the cracks over millennia.

24 April 2009

Jardin Exotique - the Prehistoric Cave

At the lowest part of the garden, suddenly we see the entrance (see smaller photo) to a prehistoric cave. Yesterday's sculpture was the clue and most of you got it right!

As you see the gates are locked with a padlock but it didn't take long for us to find a sign with information as to when the next tour would begin. This is free, all part of the entrance fee to the garden.

There are 300 steps down and 300 steps up.

Let's go...wonders await us.

23 April 2009

Jardin Exotique - the Sculpture

What's this guy doing at the Jardin Exotique? Tomorrow, we'll find out...

22 April 2009

Jardin Exotique - the Telephone Call

Looking down on Avenue de Fontvieille from the Jardin Exotique. Notice a man talking on his portable in the roof garden.

21 April 2009

Jardin Exotique - Falling Water

So many colours in succulents and cacti. This one is almost like a waterfall - so blue.

20 April 2009

Jardin Exotique - the Roof Gardens of Fontvieille

Looking down on Fontvieille from the Jardin Exotique it's surprising to see so many roof gardens.

In the smaller photo you can see a Judas tree - the pink tree. Note the fire engines and fire station.

19 April 2009

Jardin Exotique - the Football Stadium

Taken from the Jardin Exotique, this is Monaco's football stadium - home of AS Monaco. Notice all those roof gardens. We'll zoom in on some another day.

The tall buildings to the left of the photograph are on the eastern border of Monaco, in Fontvieille. The other side of those apartments, you see the harbour of Cap d'Ail, which of course is in France.

18 April 2009

Jardin Exotique - the Flower

A lone flower amongst all the spikes.

17 April 2009

Jardin Exotique - Plage Marquet, Cap d'Ail

Views in every direction from the Jardin Exotique. Here we look down on the beach at Cap d'Ail - Plage Marquet.

16 April 2009

Jardin Exotique - Aeonium arboreum 'Zwartkop'

It astounds me that this plant - purple leaves (almost black) can produce such bright yellow flowers.

15 April 2009

Jardin Exotique - the 'Big Top' and Heliport

Back to the Jardin Exotique. Cacti and succulents clad the hillside.

We are looking down on the circus tent in Fontvieille. In the smaller photograph (click to enlarge) we see the Heliport.

14 April 2009

Monte Carlo Tennis - Ready to go!

The first shot shows some of the hospitality tents and the smaller courts with the Monte Carlo Beach Hotel and Restaurant La Vigie in the background.

Below (click to enlarge) you can see the Centre Court with its rows of tiered seating, with the Monte Carlo Bay Resort Hotel in the background.

These photos were taken on the 5th April - a very grey day. Today, happily the sun shines on the players.

Tomorrow - back to the Jardin Exotique. For more Monte Carlo tennis, turn on the television!

13 April 2009

The Tennis Ball Flower

In the centre of the roundabout that forms the eastern boundary of Monaco and France, is a display of Tennis Ball Flowers - the tournament itself is just a few yards from here.

Yesterday, Nadal and Murray hit a few balls for the crowd in front of the Palais Princier on le Rocher. Click on the link to see the photograph from NIce-Matin this morning.

12 April 2009

The Tennis Players and the Cyclist

It's tennis, big time, in Monaco with the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters which started yesterday. Nadal has won the Masters in Monte Carlo every year since 2005 - will he win again?

The cyclist riding past is a reminder that the Tour de France comes to Monaco in early July - the first time since 1964.

Note: We have left the Jardin Exotique for a day or so only.

11 April 2009

Jardin Exotique - Succulents

A pocket of soil in a rock is home to this beautiful succulent.

Tomorrow we will leave the Jardin Exotique, but only for a few days. We are off to visit the Monte Carlo Tennis.

10 April 2009

Jardin Exotique - Rock

One of the many archways dug through the rock to make a pathway for visitors. No wonder the creation of this garden took over twenty years. The work started in 1913 with the garden being opened to the public in 1933 and still there was another 5 years work to complete it. The garden covers a surface of 11,500 square metres, most of it clinging to the sides of the mountain.

09 April 2009

Jardin Exotique - Le Rocher and Fontvieille

We are looking out from the Jardin Exotique, looking at le Rocher (the Rock) on the left. Le Rocher is also known as Monaco-Ville and is the oldest part of Monaco - here you find the Palace, the Cathedral and the Oceanographic museum.

On the right, you see part of Fontvieille and its small port. Fontvieille with its modern buildings is on land reclaimed from the sea. The main port - Port Hercule - is on the other side of Le Rocher.

08 April 2009

Jardin Exotique - the Visitor

The Jardin Exotique celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2008. It welcomes over a million visitors each year and here is just one of them filming some of the wonders around her.

07 April 2009

Jardin Exotique - Agave Attenuata

Here's a close up of the hanging plant we saw yesterday. The Latin name is Agave Attenuata - commonly called Swan's Neck or Foxtail.

The plant originates in Mexico but, as you see, is more than happy in Monaco's Jardin Exotique. I've had a small version of this plant in a pot for several years and every winter it almost kicks the bucket and then in spring it miraculously recovers when the weather gets warmer but frankly never makes any progress. Gorbio is doubtless just a little too high and not warm enough in winter. They flourish though in Menton gardens.

06 April 2009

Jardin Exotique - the Hanging Flower

Everywhere you look in the gardens, there is a view. Here we see part of Fontvieille, which is the part of Monaco reclaimed from the sea and ot the right, the port of Cap d'Ail. We'll see a clear shot of this another day but how about this amazing flower? It's Agave Attenuata and tomorrow, it will be 'ready for my close-up, Mr. De Mille.'

05 April 2009

Jardin Exotique - History

This photograph shows you how the various walkways and bridges work - we are walking down from the upper level which is where we entered the garden. These paths go around and downwards, with small paths leading off the main paths. And everywhere the views are spectacular. The building in the photograph is a display room and also where the young plants are propagated.

On the right and below is a succulent called Nolina or Beaucarnea. These are often sold in pots as 'Elephant's Foot' or 'Pony Tail' - here we see how big they can grow.

The Exotic Garden was created at the beginning of the 20th century by the 'Prince Savant' Albert I of Monaco. He was also the founder of the Oceanographic Museum. Designed by Louis Notario, then Head Engineer of public works, the garden has remained practically unchanged since it was opened in 1933 after 20 years of work.

A large number of the plants come from a collection that was started at the beginning of the 19th century in Monaco, hence the enormous size of some of the plants here.

04 April 2009

Jardin Exotique - the Semi-Desert Flora

The Exotic Garden cascades down and around a steep rock face at an altitude of more than a hundred metres. It has a micro climate favourable to cacti and other succulents and so the plants have grown to the size which is normal in their native countries, some as high as 10 metres. There are 7,000 varieties of semi-desert flora in this amazing garden spread over an area reached by steep paths and foot bridges.

Tomorrow we'll learn a little of the history of this garden.

03 April 2009

Jardin Exotique - Chorisia Insignis

Monaco has many beautiful gardens with perhaps the most stunning being the Jardin Exotique, high up in Monaco with spectacular views over the Principality.

Today, we start our visit, so do come along and enjoy.

We've entered the gardens and immediately we see this extraordinary tree. It originates from Argentina and Brazil and displays cream coloured flowers in Autumn.

02 April 2009

Monte Carlo Lady - The Coat

A stroll towards the port.

01 April 2009

Theme Day: Yellow

It's Theme Day again and this month the subject is 'yellow.' Here you see a side view of part of the beautiful Hôtel Hermitage, perhaps the most beautiful Belle Epoque hotel in Monte Carlo. Built in 1890, when the Romanovs dominated Monte Carlo's social scene, it is no surprise the hotel was called the Hermitage after St. Petersburg's fashionable establishment.

The hotel's elegant piano bar used to be Maria Callas' ground floor suite. This was accessed via a private tunnel by her lover, Aristotle Onassis. These days, it's a good place for a glass of champagne.

The south of France and Monaco has a tradition of beautiful friezes - this one quite spectacular.

Over a hundred photographers will be posting their interpretation of today's Theme - you'll find so many different and imaginative responses to the word 'yellow.' Click here to view thumbnails for all participants.

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