Menton and Birthdays

22 Oct

This week brings a mix of activities for us as the weather stays fairly pleasant.  Han and Rens are still here and that allowed us to get away to Menton for two nights while they took charge of Tutu.  They have been visiting here for many years so actually know the place and Tutu better than we do.  Besides, they just adore him and revel in their time in Provence.

So we drove off on Monday morning heading for Menton, but via Nice.  I had not visited Nice since our trip in 2005 so it was good to take it all in again.  We arrived in Menton in the afternoon and set off exploring on foot with the final goal being to find somewhere to sit down for dinner.

On Tuesday morning we headed off on the coastal road (i.e. very slowly!) towards the markets in San Remo.  We got very lucky and found a spot in the parking building right beside the centre of the market so we were able to return to the car with our loot before heading off on what turned out to be an 8km walk to see the Russian Orthodox church on the road into town.

The evening was spent back in Menton.  The next morning, after hitting the beach ‘early’ to get some sunrise photos, we headed off to Gourdon.  On the way we did make the mistake of driving through Nice along the Promenade des Anglais thinking that since it was relatively deserted at the same time on Monday, it will also be a pleasant drive today, Wednesday.  How totally wrong that was!

We finally made it to Gourdon, a hilltop village in the mountains behind Grasse, just before lunch.  The weather wasn’t up to much, which was a pity, but the village is beautiful and requires another visit with better selected weather.

OK, first stop was Nice en route for Menton…

There is a bluff at the east end of the Promenade des Anglais and Quai des États-Unis just before the harbour. Set into the cliff face is this WWI memorial.

I think I took a picture of this very same location when I was last in Nice in 2005 but I couldn’t resist taking it again. Afterall, I am a much more experienced photographer now! 😉 Well, even though I might not have learned much,I have taken a lot of photos.

Up close and personal with the beach. After taking this shot and retreating up to the road, we watched a guy in his late 50s, wearing budgie smugglers, walk down to the wter’s edge. We thought he was going for a swim even though the water was probably freezing. No, instead he pushed down the front of his togs, and proceeded to urinate. When he had quite finished and after much vigorous shaking he returned up the beach to resume sunbathing laying on his towel. Bizarre!

The beach looks idyllic from up here in the gardens of Colline du Château but you can still hear the racket made by the waves rolling the stones up and down the slope.

Waterfalls with a faint image of a rainbow are always fair game for a photo – or twenty! Here’s just one for now…

Arriving in Menton on Monday afternoon the beach still looked very attractive…

Back at Menton the beach actually had some patches of sand with the stones. It was a bit cool for swimming or laying about though.

There were quite a collection of belltowers in Menton which is sandwiched between the hills and the water.

On Tuesday morning we headed directly to the market in San Remo – well after a coffee and some pastries at the local boulangerie of course!

The indoor produce hall at the markets in San Remo has its own little police office with a high speed pursuit vehicle parked outside. During down-time the transport multitasks as a smoker’s rest for the stall holders.

All sorts of mushrooms and they had certificates with them declaring them safe for consumption.

It was a beautiful day at San Remo but not too many bathers.

After ‘doing the market’ we set out on a walk to find this Russian Orthodox church. We got a bit side-tracked on the way and ended up walking 8km by the time we got to lunch back at the harbour. The church was splendid, the exterior probably more than the interior. Lots of paintings inside (no photos allowed) and they were covered in silver relief work with only parts of the underlying image exposed. Something I don’t remember seeing before.

Another view of the exterior.

Finally back at the harbour and our lunch destination is in the background. Probably one of the same photos I took last time here but it was irresistable. We had a very nice lunch at Café Per Mare where James and Lavinia had taken us back in April.

Then it was back to Menton for the evening…

The sun set behind us at Menton but it still made for some nice effects.

I got warmly dressed and went and sat on the beach from 7am at Menton on Wednesday morning to wait for the 7.47am sunrise. Unfortunately it was a bit too cloudy for the best photos.

The drive from Menton back home was via Nice, Gourdon, Grasse, Draguignan and Lorgues.

We could see the hilltop village of Gourdon from Pont sur Loup where we stopped for lunch back on 23rd September. On that day we did not have time to seek it out so this time we made sure. Unfortunately the weather had packed in and what should have been spectacular views were all clouded in and it was raining lightly.

This is it… just in case I ever forget where we were.

Gourdon reminded me a lot of Saint-Paul-de-Vence but without all the fashion/art boutiques. It was beautifully restored and tidy. Unlucky with the weather but I certainly want to visit again.

The view down on to Pont sur Loup and the old railway bridge towers I wrote about last time. Just after I took this photo the rain and clouds rolled in and we didn’t see the outlook again.

A blue sky behind with just a few clouds would look awesome. Hopefully next time.

Not too much more to report on until Sunday when we joined Han and Rens plus some of their friends to celebrate Han’s 75th birthday.  Rens put on what we thought was to be a ‘luncheon’ but we started with champagne at 12.30pm and finished five courses later at 6pm!  That’s not to mention many glasses of wine followed by good Dutch coffee.

Meet Han, the birthday boy! 75 tomorrow and enjoying life.

Naturally there were a few drinks needed to celebrate in style.

Not to mention food. I was too busy eating to getting photos of the preceeding three courses so I am afraid the cheese and grapes is all you get to see. The rest was delicious so it was not surprising that I lost concentration on taking photos.

Han and Rens. For Rens it was finally time to relax after putting on such a great meal.

That’s it for another week.  I don’t know where all the time goes, we always seem to have something on.  We have modest plans for the coming week but you will have to wait to find out more.  A bientôt.

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