31 December 2009

A New Year's Eve Dinner

Where will you be spending New Year's Eve? These tables are in the charming Eze Hermitage Restaurant and Hotel on the Grande Corniche in Eze. Highly recommended with great food - I lunched with a group of friends (18 of us) the Sunday before Christmas.

And if you want to dine in Monaco tonight, well you might just be too late. The 'grandes tables' such as Alain Ducasse's Louis XV in the Hôtel de Paris and Joel Robuchon Monte Carlo have been fully booked for weeks. In fact all of the important restaurants in the Principality are fully booked. There will be more than 1000 meals served tonight in the grand restaurants with prices that range from 99 euros to 760 euros a head for a gastronomic evening of foie gras, coquilles Saint-Jacques, truffles and more... Recession? What recession?

Happy New Year everyone!

30 December 2009

Deck the Halls...

The entrance to the Hôtel de Paris decked out for the festive season. A policeman patrols.

29 December 2009

The Window Shopper

This lady walked from shop to shop, then posed outside each one, whilst her husband took her photograph. I think he was keener on this than she was. Here she stands outside the Lanvin shop in Casino Square.

28 December 2009

The Flapper

A painting for sale in the Galerie Monaco Fine Arts. Depicting the Casino in the background, it's called Monte Carlo By Night by the Russian artist Viatcheslav Plotnikov.

27 December 2009

Christmas Baubles

The Metropole Centre is always pretty impressive with its enormous chandeliers but naturally, Monaco being Monaco, more more lights and baubles were added for the festive season. Note the beautiful marble floors. The café you see on the lower level is a great place to meet up with friends for a coffee or lunch.

26 December 2009

The Red Carpet

The red carpet came out for Christmas on Avenue de Monte Carlo. This photograph was taken by the Gucci store before the snow and later the heavy rains. Hopefully it survived.

25 December 2009

Christmas on the Port: Mother and Child

This photo is a slight cheat because I took it last Christmas on the port. At the time there was a beautiful display of cribs from around the world. This is one we didn't see - part of a Venetian scene. So here it is for Christmas Day.

Wishing everyone a very Happy Christmas with those you love.

24 December 2009

Christmas on the Port: Skating

The skating rink (which of course is the famous swimming pool iced over) set against the backdrop of luxury yachts.

23 December 2009

Christmas on the Port: the Fair

It's not all luxury living in Monaco, dining at the Hôtel de Paris and shopping in the Metropole Centre. Here at the Christmas Fair on the port you can eat cheaply and the kids have fun on the rides.

22 December 2009

Prince Albert II and Charlene take to the Icy Waters

Each December Prince Albert II takes part in the traditional 'Bain de Noël' on Larvotto beach but this year it took bravery, following our recent snow falls. As you can imagine, the water of the Mediterranean was really cold but this year the watching crowd had a treat when Prince Albert brought along his beautiful long-time companion, Charlene Wittstock, the South African Olympic swimmer. Another member of the Royal Family of Monaco, Pierre Casiraghi, son of Princess Caroline, took part too. They all took to the sea for a full 10 minutes and afterwards Charlene met Woolite the sheep, dressed as Santa Claus. The swim raised 1200 euros for the Thai After Tzunami Schooling Aid charity.

Regular readers of this blog have met Woolite before - she's the sheep who swims in the sea, is the mascot of Les Foulées Roquebrunoises (runners) and, of course, is Philippe Mazza's constant companion. Woolite has her own blog HERE. Thanks Philippe for the photos.

21 December 2009

Christmas on the Port: the Scarecrow

You really don't expect to see a scarecrow on the port of Monaco, do you? He was part of a display at the Christmas Fair promoting care for the environment.

Dorothy: Now which way do we go?
Scarecrow: Pardon me, this way is a very nice way.
Dorothy: Who said that?
[Toto barks at scarecrow]
Dorothy: Don't be silly, Toto. Scarecrows don't talk.
Scarecrow: [points other way] It's pleasant down that way, too.
Dorothy: That's funny. Wasn't he pointing the other way?
Scarecrow: [points both ways] Of course, some people do go both ways.

20 December 2009

Snow on the Pansies

Casino Square and more of Maggie Calkin's great photos, all showing the ever-changing light show on the Christmas trees.

Unusual to see the square so deserted but not surprising considering the weather. In the last photo, you see the scene reflected in Anish Kapoor's Sky Mirror. Thanks again, Maggie!

19 December 2009

Snow in Casino Square!

Snow in Monte Carlo! Such a rare occurrence and what luck that my friend, Maggie Calkins, a professional photographer who lives in Monaco, whizzed out to Casino Square after midnight last night and took these great shots.

In fact, we get a double whammy - snow and part of the ever-changing light show in Casino Square.

Thanks Maggie so much for permission to publish these.

Meanwhile, I'm snowed in at Gorbio, just above Menton. Click on the link to take a look.

18 December 2009

Christmas on the Port: Recycled - Cribs for 'Action Innocence Monaco'

Robert is a retired German florist and lives with his French wife in Menton. Last winter he collected the flotsam and jetsam of the Mediterranean beaches and created these crèches (nativities). The figures come from Austria, Germany and Italy.

All profits go to 'Action Innocence Monaco' which is an organisation created to protect children from abuse on the internet.

17 December 2009

Christmas on the Port: Recycled - the Necklace

Most of the Fair is taken up with slides and rides for children and stalls selling gifts and food but there is one tent (small photo) where you'll find jewelry, furniture and ornaments, all made from recycled materials. This necklace has been pinned to a board, alongside a photograph of it on a model. I haven't a clue what it's made of but that it's made of recycled materials has to be good news.

16 December 2009

Christmas on the Port: Having a Ball - First, Zip up your Child!

It's simple but I'd think a little daunting for a small child. The story starts with the lower photo - the child is zipped into the deflated ball. You can see the fat black oxygen pipe on the right. The plastic ball inflates really quickly. And later, there he is rolling around the hazards of the course - King of the World!

15 December 2009

Christmas on the Port: Having a Ball

The Christmas Fair at Port Hercule has loads of rides and slides for children - the swimming pool has become an ice rink, there's a big wheel and of course, no fair would be a fair without barbe à papa (candy floss).

This year there's a new ride where the kids are zipped into a ball and then they roll themselves around the course where they have snow, sea, tempest and sand to contend with, yet all within the safety of their magical cocoon. Some started off a little wary but within a couple of minutes were having an absolute ball (excuse the pun).

Tomorrow, we'll see how it all works.

14 December 2009

90 Years of Citroën - the Car that Saved a President's Life

In 1955, the future invaded the present and the DS was born. a car famous in the 60s and 70s - it even saved a politician's life. The DS pioneered new technolog, including the extraordinary hydro-pneumatic suspension system. Nowadays these cars sell for anywhere between 10,000 and 25,000 euros. Recently a rare cabriolet DS was sold at auction for 300,000.

In 1962, terrorists attacked President General De Gaulle's official DS, peppering it with bullets and destroying two tyres. Thanks to the unshakable stability of the hydro-pneumatic suspension, the Presidential car swerved away and escaped.

This is the last day of the Citroen parade - thanks to everyone who has come along for the ride...

13 December 2009

90 Years of Citroën - the Tin Snail

Remember the days when it seemed everyone in France had a 2CV? Citroën first produced these great, cheap cars in 1948, which gave everyone the possibility of motoring. Production finished in 1990.

For those of us who loved France, it was all part of the dream to cross the channel and drive down the 'Blue Route' to the south in a battered 2CV.

Talking of which take a look at Nottingham Daily Photo, where you'll see a Citroën 2CV AK400 van, referred to as a 'Tin Snail,' a phrase I'd not heard before so that's what I'm calling this post, Gailsman.

In the main photo you see a line of 2CVs driving into Casino Square - quite a sight.

12 December 2009

90 Years of Citroën - the Traction Avant

Don't know about you, but my favourites are the black ones - reminiscent of so many old French films.

Note the waiters and guests on the terrace of Alain Ducasse's 3-star Louis XV in the Hôtel de Paris - they are enjoying the parade as much as we are.

The Traction Avant was introduced 75 years ago and was the world's first front-wheel drive car. If you'd like to read more about Citroën's 90 years of history, do please click on the link to read my article for CITYOUT Côte d'Azur.

11 December 2009

90 Years of Citroën - the Torpedo B 12

First of all, apologies for the cars not being totally in focus and badly framed - the cars were positively whizzing around Casino Square - well, whizzing for their age... and it wasn't until yesterday's car, the GT Concept, arrived in front of the casino, that people rushed out, and it had no choice but to stop. The cars I'm showing today and tomorrow came around first - in order of age.

The car in the main photo is a 1925 Torpedo type B 12. The owner said you need to concentrate to drive it as the accelerator is in the centre and not on the right!

I don't know the model of the car is in the smaller photo. One of you car wizards out there will know, I'm sure.

10 December 2009

90 Years of Citroën - the Playstation Car

This GT Concept supercar bridges the gap between reality and fantasy as it was initially created for the virtual world of Sony's PlayStation Gran Turismo 5 racing game.

The creator of the video game, Takumi Yamamoto, presented the idea of this car to Jean-Pierre Ploué, style director of Citroën - result: the GT was born. This concept car created a riot in Casino Square and brightened up a very dull and overcast day.

Well done to Biting Midge from Sunshine Coast Daily Photo who was the first yesterday to recognise the car - seems many of you did! A postcard of Monte Carlo will shortly be on its way. Also one to Letube - send snail mail addresses pls. Some great suggestions - wish the Stig had been driving, Gail's Man.


Around six months ago I was contacted by an English guy, Alex, who lives in Prague asking for permission to use several of my photographs for a new Monaco/Côte d'Azur website, at the time in preparation. This has led to my being part of the CITYOUT team of journalists. Two days ago, the new website went Live in Beta test. We hope to launch fully in the first quarter of 2010.

You'll find hundreds of fascinating articles on everything you can think of relating to life on the French Riviera and Monaco. I'm proud so many of my photographs and articles appear on this site alongside those of the talented journalists in the team. Please click on CITYOUT Côte d'Azur. You'll also find a link in the side bar of this blog. The website, by the way, is also in French and Russian and will eventually be launched in several other languages.

And that editor in Prague? Well some of you know him already...Alex has recently started his own City Daily Photo blog featuring his part of Prague, Vrsovice Daily Photo.

09 December 2009

90 Years of Citroën - the Photographers + Competition

Suddenly the doors to this car opened and out of nowhere appear the photographers. The first person to tell me what - or who - they are photographing gets a postcard of Monte Carlo.

All will be revealed tomorrow.

08 December 2009

90 Years of Citroën - the Parade

There I was in Casino Square - a dull day, cloud hanging low over the mountains, not the best of days to take photographs when suddenly, along came the Citroëns...

So, come with me and over the next days, we'll journey back into the history of this great car and celebrate its 90th anniversary with a parade.

07 December 2009

The Silk Floss Tree

This beautiful Silk Floss Tree (Chorisia Speciosa) fills the space between two buildings on Avenue Grande Bretagne.

06 December 2009

The Hôtel de Paris Scooter

Parked alongside the second entrance to the Hôtel de Paris is this scooter - presumably a speedy way of transporting oxygen for any guest who needs it.

Note: Maria - thanks Maria - tells me Oxygen is the name of an Italian company that makes environmentally friendly scooters - which changes everything. Check out the link.

Most of Monaco's public transport, by the way, is electric and so therefore environmentally friendly.

05 December 2009

The Lamborghini

This Lamborghini is being parked by one of the doormen at the Casino. If you are interested in cars, you only need to wander around Casino Square - it's an 'open-air car showroom' - and only the best cars are given the honour of being parked in the square. The rest get put in the underground car park.

04 December 2009

The Shopper

Shopping at Valentino.

"I went window shopping today! I bought four windows"

~ Tommy Cooper

03 December 2009

The Amazing Tesla

Last week H.S.H. Prince Albert II opened the Tesla showroom in the Boulevard des Moulins, just along from the Casino gardens.

Made in California, designed by Lotus, the Tesla Roadster is the latest and greatest in electric cars. At a rally organised by the Automobile Club of Monaco in April, the car outperformed every other vehicle, including a Porsche, and still had 38 miles of battery life left at the end of the 241-mile course from Valence to Monte Carlo.

The Tesla Roadster will run for 393 kilometres on a single charge, unique in the world. It goes from 0 to 90 km/h in 3.9 seconds and can reach a speed of 200 km/h. It's appropriate that Tesla should have opened a showroom in Monaco as the Principality with its protection of the environment policy, already has 484 electric cars registered.

Capital outlay is not cheap - vehicles retail at €99,000 - but the running costs are minimal. Refuelling from a normal household electric socket costs about €2.50 and takes 3.5 hours. There are only twelve moving parts - so no wear and tear to speak of. The car is virtually silent and with zero emissions. In addition, the Monaco government pays 9,000 euros to buyers as part of their environment policy. Tesla hope to sell 80 to 100 of these cars in their first year. I noticed one, with a British registration, parked just along the No Finish Line - see yesterday's post.

And to see this car in action, take a look at the video.

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