31 October 2011
This could be anywhere on the Cote d'Azur - soft yellow walls, green shutters, deep shadows and blue skies but in fact I took it from inside Our Lady of Laghet. The yellow building is where people stay if they take a 'retreat' here.
30 October 2011
A few final images taken within this beautiful and peaceful sanctuary.
In 1653, a commission of theologians, a doctor and a lawyer convened and confirmed the authenticity of the miracles and so the bishop allowed and encouraged the cult of Our Lady of Laghet. April 25, 1654 saw the the first official pilgrimage by the White Penitents from Eze to Laghet. Since then there are pilgrimages every year, including one from my own village of Gorbio.
It's also possible to take a retreat at Our Lady of Laghet - take a look at the website for more information.
29 October 2011
The intention was to show (in the main photo) the interior of the chapel but it's not a good photo. I'd grabbed a shot quickly with my small camera, no tripod, as I didn't want to intrude on the worshippers. No matter, it's shown on the left so you can get an idea of the colours and beauty of this place.
The main photo shows a model of the sanctuary - the chapel is in the centre of it. If you don't speak French, this is a request for donations towards an organ - the intention being to replace the old organ with a mechanical one.
28 October 2011
Many of the paintings give thanks for those who made it after an accident - for instance this little boy from Menton who was run over by a bus in 1921.
Others give thanks for sons and husbands saved in the Great War - see the hand-made sampler on the left. It's easy to imagine the lady who made this, giving thanks for the safe return of her husband and his four brothers.
And then, there is the girl who gives thanks for passing her exam at school. I only saw one of these.
27 October 2011
One of the nuns stands in comtemplation before entering the chapel.
Our Lady of Laghet is the name of the Virgin Mary associated with the name of this small village which was first mentioned in a charter of the 11th century. In the 12th century, Laghet was part of the fiefdom of Eze and mention is made of a small chapel. In the 15th century, the chapel served as a small shrine for shepherds and peasants but it was modest and had been built in an exposed position and was slowly falling apart.
In 1625 an ardent priest, Don Jacques Fighiera was so moved by the abandonment and decay of the chapel of Laghet, he decided to devote himself to rebuilding it. By 1628 it had a new roof, he leveled the land, he whitewashed the walls, and hung a door with a lock, He also repaired the path that leads to Laghet from Eze and all at his expense 'in honor of God and the Virgin Mary.' Then he announced to the public that the chapel of Laghet had been restored and he took the service, in a voluntary capacity, for the next 25 years.
26 October 2011
Most of the drawings and paintings are simple but somehow so touching. Many, as you see, show accidents where the beloved husband or wife or child was saved and thanks are being given to Our Lady of Laghet.
25 October 2011
This is the walkway with its vaulted ceiling that goes right around the church - the chapel itself is in the centre.
Here you'll find hundreds, perhaps thousands, of tokens of thanks to Our Lady of Laghet - tomorrow we'll see some of these up close.
24 October 2011
The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Laghet has been an important destination for pilgrims since 1654.
This is a church where people go to pray and to be cured. The inside - and we will see it - has almost every inch of its walls covered with tokens of thanks for a return to health.
Notre Dame de Laghet is not far from Monaco. It's just five minutes from La Turbie and is a place of beauty and peace, whether or not you are religious, whether or not you are a Catholic.
23 October 2011
22 October 2011
21 October 2011
20 October 2011
19 October 2011
18 October 2011
17 October 2011
16 October 2011
And so to coffee. And petits fours. And macarons. And chocolates. The tiny silver object in the background is a bird - see last photo.
The blue dessert china was designed for Alain Ducasse by the Belgian ceramist, Pieter Stockman who also designed china for the recent wedding of Prince Albert and Charlene Wittstock - another Alain Ducasse triumph. Alain Ducasse, by the way, was made a citizen of Monaco by Prince Albert in 2008 - a rare honour unless you happen to be one already.
And so it's over. A fabulous lunch and for anyone interested this is a fixed-price menu at 140 euros which includes absolutely everything - wines, coffee and the whole amazing theatrical spectacle of it all, not to mention the to-die-for food. Of course it's not cheap and if you think of starving children in Africa, there is no justification but if you can get beyond that and treat yourself for a special occasion, it's truly excellent value. A three-star Michelin lunch in this beautiful dining room in Monte Carlo will be something you'll never forget.
Of course, once you've been there, you'll have to go back!
15 October 2011
After the fish, along came the cheese.
A beautiful covered trolley arrived with more cheeses than I could count. We each chose three. One of mine was a Roquefort and Lynda chose a different blue cheese. Of course we had to compare and I loved her choice. The attentive and friendly (and handsome!) Maitre 'D wrote down its name - a Fourme l'Ambert which is from the Auvergne region of France. It's far milder than a Roquefort and creamier too.
With it we chose a different bread from the trolley - a wholemeal fig and walnut. Perfect!
On to dessert. In the main photo: Compotée de pommes reinettes, glace à la vanille et pommes sauvages râpées crues.
Stewed Reinette apples, vanilla ice cream and raw slices of wild apples.
In the smaller photo: Fruits d'automne en tartelette friande, glace au lait, fleur de sel.
A delicate tart of autumn fruits, milk ice cream, sea salt.
You can see Lynda couldn't wait to stick her spoon into the milk icecream - me too!
14 October 2011
Our main course:
Rougets de roche farci de vert de blette, légumes en bouillabaisse.
Red mullet stuffed with the green part of chard, vegetables in bouillabaisse.
The fish had been totally de-boned and then stuffed - such a beautiful presentation and you need not ask how good it tasted!
Blette (chard - a type of spinach) is regularly used in Mediterranean cooking. Tarte au Blette is sold in all the local markets.
13 October 2011
The mirrored door beside our table reflects a corner of this beautiful restaurant.
In the smaller photo, my friend Lynda's first course:
Fumet de homard breton à peine crémé, fins raviolis de champignons des bois et châtaignes.
Stock of Breton lobster stock with cream, raviolis of wild mushrooms and chestnuts.
Our wine: Domaine du Loou 'Esprit de Blancs' 2010 - a delicious light and fresh Provence white wine from the Var.
12 October 2011
There are three choices of menu at lunch time.
We chose the Club Dejeuner de Saison in which you have a first course, main course and dessert. There are three choices in each.
There is also a cheese course before the dessert and before it all we were served a beautiful presentation of paper-thin vegetables served in a glass with a delicious dip made of olives.
There is a choice of at least 20 breads - this is not just lunch, this is a theatrical spectacle.
My first course.
Risotto à la courge rouge et oignon caramélisé, des côtes de romaine.
Risotto with pumpkin and caramelized onion, Romaine lettuce. I can't begin to tell you how delicious this was!
Tomorrow: Lynda's first course. And the wine.
11 October 2011
There are two of these silver water coolers on the table - my friend, Lynda, prefers natural water, I always drink bubbles. So we have one each. The wine will arrive shortly.
Note the porcelain and gold salt and pepper dish reflected in the shine of the silver.
I think lunch is going to be good...
10 October 2011
We're going to lunch at the best restaurant in Monte Carlo!
This is the Louis XV, Alain Ducasse's 3-star Michelin restaurant in the Hotel de Paris on Casino Square.
The windows of this gloriously decorated dining room open onto the square. I wonder if the sculpture in the corner is Madame Pompadour.
So, dress up and I'll see you tomorrow...