A trip to Menton

All too often we just cycle through Menton on our way to Italy for a coffee or use it as a gateway to the Col de la Madone. The other afternoon, we decided to pay its Old Town a visit.

When life gives you lemons, it’s time to visit Menton. You can be sure that someone there will find a creative use for your fruit. Shops in the bustling traffic-free Rue St Michel teem with products from candles, soaps and soft toys to food and drink. The town’s claim to be lemon capital of the world is underlined each February when it hosts the Fête du Citron. Around 200,000 visitors descend on Menton for a two-week programme of colourful displays and noisy processions, using around 145 tonnes of citrus fruits in a range of events.

However, while the festival has been going for more than 80 years and is reason enough to make the trip, Menton, dubbed the pearl of France, has much more to offer besides, including plenty of architectural delights and a relaxed vibe that makes it an ideal place to relax and unwind.

With a microclimate that is gentler than elsewhere on the coast, largely due to being hemmed in between mountains and sea, it’s easy to see why the town, with a population around 30,000, has been a destination for travellers since 19th century. Around every corner in the old town is another stunning collection of buildings, drawing on every pastel hue in the Mediterranean palette.

During Roman times, Menton was crossed by the Via Julia Augusta which runs from Pisa, Italy to Arelates (Arles, France) through Menton’s neighbouring Italian town Album Intimilium (modern Ventimiglia) and La Turbie where a monument (Trophy of Augustus) was built to celebrate emperor Augustus’ victory over the Ligurian tribes.

The first written mention of Menton dates back to 21 July 1262 at the occasion of a peace treaty between the City of Genoa and Charles of Anjou, King of Sicily and Naples, as well as Count of Provence. The position of Menton between the Republic of Genoa and the County of Provence was highly coveted during the Middle Ages. In 1346, the town was acquired by Charles Grimaldi of Monaco and stayed under the possession of the Grimaldis until 1848. That year, Menton and the neighbouring town of Roquebrune seceded from Monaco in response to a litigation involving taxes on lemon exports.

The two towns self-proclaimed a Free City and placed themselves under the protection of the King of Sardinia. Menton was then administrated by the House of Savoy until 1861 when the town voted massively for its annexation to France by referendum (833 for versus 54 against). Nice and its county had taken a similar decision a year before and Menton was added to the département of Alpes-Maritimes.

In that same auspicious year Dr Henry Bennet arrived in the town. He believed he was dying and Menton seemed ideal for expiring in the sun. Within weeks he felt better, possibly even immortal. His book, Mentone and the Riviera as a Winter Climate, sped through six editions. The TB-ravaged upper classes rushed to test the miracle: see Menton and live!

Soon they had promenades, grand hotels and two casinos. It became the de rigueur winter resort. When Queen Victoria first encamped at the Chalet de Rosier commemorative postcards went around the world. Her PR work was rewarded with a statue and square bearing her name in the Garavan area around the harbour. Other street titles offer further evidence of Menton’s popularity with influential travellers.

I should add you don’t stroll around the gorgeous old town; you hike up and down it. The steep cobbled medieval steps and alleyways are dark, narrow and winding. Shafts of sunlight reveal jumbled dwellings in muted shades of ochre and pink and gold. On rue Saint-Michel is the basilica of the same name, a baroque church with a landmark belltower. This is one of the venues for the Menton music festival each August. A little further on is the ornate Chapelle des Pénitents Blancs, and right at the top, is the cemetery on rue du Vieux Chateau. A peaceful spot with incredible views. Surprisngly, it’s a place of pilgrimage for rugby fans: the sport’s inventor, William Webb Ellis, is buried there.

The town’s cobbled streets lead back to the seafront. Back among the bustle, Musée Jean Cocteau (currently undergoing renovation) features examples of the artist’s work from the private collection of Severin Wunderman, a watchmaker, philanthropist and art collector. There’s also a wonderfully ornate covered market. While, over the road, the pebbly beach draws sun worshippers throughout the year, with a refreshing dip in the sea the ideal relief when the mercury soars as it has done this past week.

While there are a number of excellent restaurants in the town, the place that has boosted Menton’s profile among foodies around the world is Mirazur, which enjoys an elevated position just a few paces from the Italian border. It received a third Michelin star in January 2019, making it one of only 133 places (2019) around the globe to hold that accolade. Then, six months later, it was further garlanded, topping the list of the World’s Best Restaurants. It’s still on my bucket list!

Sunshine’s Macro Monday #53

More shots from the Domaine garden.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for all your helpful feedback and kind comments on these posts – most encouraging.

Sunshine’s Macro Monday Challenge was hosted by Irene a formidable photographer who encouraged us to scrutinise the smallest of details by getting up close and personal and bringing someone or something to life in a photograph. It was a one day challenge without prompts which I have continued to pursue. Feel free to join in and brighten everyone’s Monday.

Tag: Wanna Know You Better

I was most kindly tagged back in May by Shreya, who’s young enough to be my grand-daughter – now there’s a thought!

Shreya writes for the love of it. Her passion for writing began at the age of five, when she wrote her first book about her sister (which technically was only a few pages long, but for a five year old, it was a full fledged book). Aside from writing, nothing makes her happier than travelling to new places and learning new cultures.

Please check out her blog and give her a follow.

 

Shreya’s Questions

1. Do you prefer writing to speaking?

There are times when it’s more appropriate to respond in writing but in general I prefer to talk to people rather than text or send them emails.

2. Which was your favourite phase in life?

Oh no more favourites! I’ve enjoyed all the phases of my life and I’m not yet done. Who knows, maybe the best is yet to come!

3. If not for “Earth”, what do you think our planet should be called?

This isn’t something I’ve ever given any thought to but a Guns N’ Roses song comes to mind: Appetite for Destruction!

4. What natural phenomena fascinates you the most?

Fascinate is probably the wrong word as I’m interested in all sorts of natural phenomena such as the weather, biological and physical processes, tidal flows and natural disasters. I like to understand their cause and effect.

5. If you were given the opportunity to live in a different time period, which time period would you choose?

Despite my comment in 3 above, I’m quite happy with the current time period. As a woman I have no desire to go back in time. Maybe, I should go forward. What do you all think?

6. If you could make all schools stop teaching one subject, which would it be?

My least favourite subject at school was Home Economics but I don’t think that should be dropped. How about Religious Instruction which only covered Christianity. Instead of stopping it, the syllabus should be widened. But that was such a long time ago, maybe it has?

7. Which word do you think, although sounds easy, is tricky to spell?

When we were kids my Dad used to give us spelling tests on long car journeys. So how about YACHT?

8. Do you think life without social media will be better than life with it?

Social media used correctly has its uses, the problem is when it’s used to intimidate and spread fake news.

9. Describe time in a sentence.

Time is the ongoing and continuous sequence of events that occur in succession.

10. Would the barter system be efficient in our time?

I don’t think the barter system has ever completely gone away, but it does rely on participants in a transaction directly exchanging goods or services that they can provide and need.

11. What do you think is the greatest invention?

The bicycle!

Nominees

If you want to run with this tag, please feel free to answer the above questions. Hope you’ve had a great weekend. Sx

Song Lyric Sunday #4

This is Jim Adams’ Song Lyric Sunday Challenge, a man after my own heart as he posts the challenges well in advance giving us all time to choose an appropriate response. This week’s challenge is a song with a harmonica.

I’m wracking my brain for songs that have harmonica solos? What about Bad Obsession by American rockers Guns N’ Roses, a band I’ve seen live a couple of times.

The song is on Use Your Illusion I, the band’s third studio album, released in 1991 on the same day as its counterpart Use Your Illusion II. I have copies of both. The album debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard charts, selling 685,000 copies in its first week, behind Use Your Illusion IIs first-week sales of 770,000. Both albums have been certified 7× Platinum and Use your Illusion I was nominated for a Grammy in 1992.

The Use Your Illusion albums represent a turning point in the sound of Guns N’ Roses. Although the band did not abandon the aggressive hard-rock sound it had become known for with 1987’s Appetite for Destruction, Use Your Illusion I demonstrated a new-found musical maturity, incorporating elements of blues, classical music, heavy metal, punk rock and classic rock and roll.

The track Bad Obsession is about tackling drug abuse and addiction, which had haunted the band since well before they had become famous. Michael Monroe, lead singer of Hanoi Rocks and a big influence on Guns N’ Roses, plays the harmonica and tenor saxophone on the studio version. A live version from the Tokyo Dome (featured below) was featured on the Use Your Illusion I DVD as song number six.

Lyrics: Bad Obsession

I can’t stop thinkin’ thinking ’bout sinkin’
Sinkin’ down into my bed
I call my mother
She’s just a **** now
She said I’m sick in the head
She said you ain’t special
So who you foolin’
Don’t try ta give me a line
But I can’t stop thinkin’ ’bout seein’ ya one more time
(Oh no)
But I already left you and you’re better off left behind
It’s a bad obsession
It’s always messin’
It’s always messin’ my mind
It’s a bad obsession
It’s always messin’
It’s always messin’ my mind
Too bad you’re fucked up
I used to be wasted always tried to take it
Take it down into my vein
I call the doctor, he’s just another
He said I’m sick in the brain
He said you ain’t special
So who you foolin’
Don’t try ta give me a line
But I can’t stop thinkin’ ’bout doin’ it one more time
(Oh no)
But I already left you and you’re better off left behind
(Oh yeah)
Aw it’s a bad obsession
It’s always messin’
It’s always messin’ my mind
It’s a bad obsession
It’s always messin’
It’s always messin’ my mind
So bad, boy
It’s a
It’s a
Heads up
It’s a bad obsession
It’s always messin’
It’s always messin’ my mind
Now it’s a bad obsession
It’s always messin’
It’s always messin’ my mind
But I can’t stop thinkin’ ’bout doin’ it one more time
(Oh no)
See I already left you and you’re better off left behind
(Oh no, oh no)
It’s a bad obsession and you’re always messin’ my mind
See I already left you and you’re better off left behind
Uh huh no
Maybe you’ll do better next time
Punk

Source: Lyric Find
Songwriters: W. Axl Rose / West Arkeen / Saul Hudson / Duff Rose Mckagan / Izzy Stradlin / Darren A. Reed / Matt Sorum Matt Sorum
Bad Obsession lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc, Universal Music Publishing Group, Sussman & Associates

Challenge Rules

  • Post the lyrics to the song of your choice, whether it fits the theme or not. If it does not fit, then please explain why you chose this song.
  • Please try to include the songwriter(s) – it’s a good idea to give credit where credit is due.
  • Make sure you also credit the singer/band and if you desire you can provide a link to where you found the lyrics.
  • Link to the YouTube video, or pull it into your post so others can listen to the song.
  • Ping back to Jim’s post or place your link in his comments section.
  • Read at least one other person’s blog, so we can all share new and fantastic music and create amazing new blogging friends in the process.
  • Feel free to suggest future prompts.
  • Most of all, have fun and enjoy the music.

The Musette: roasted veggie burger

Who doesn’t love burgers? Exactly! I’ve even posted about the French love of le Hamburger. However, as a vegan I’m honestly not keen on those made from meat substitutes or soya, which I can’t eat. No, I want a flavourful burger which tastes of veggies.

Note: this is more of a method of making veggie burgers than a recipe.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium red onion, peeled
  • 100g (4 oz) mixed mushrooms
  • 100g (4 oz) sourdough bread or similar
  • 200g (8 oz ) cooked beans or chickpeas
  • handful fresh herbs
  • 1 carrot, peeled
  • 100g (4 oz) cooked spinach or similar
  • 1 fat clove garlic
  • 1tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Method

1. Place all the ingredients (except the beans or chickpeas) in the food processor and whiz until fine. Pulse in the  beans or chickpeas, season lightly with sea salt and black pepper.

2. Divide the mixture into 6 fat patties, roughly 3cm (1 “) thick then place on an oiled baking tray and place in the fridge for an hour or two to firm up.

3. Preheat the oven to 200ºC/fan 180ºC/400ºF/gas 6.

4. Take out of the fridge, spray the patties with olive oil, then roast for 25 minutes, or until dark and crispy. Don’t forget to warm or toast the rolls for the last few minutes.

5. Meanwhile, get your desired accompaniements ready.

6. Halve the warm rolls and layer up those bad boys however your heart desires. You’ll note I only use one side of the bun per patty and layer on my vegan mayo, tomato, cucumber, sprouts, gherkins and spicy tomato and chilli jam.

7. Serve with oven-roasted, skin-on sweet potato chips and some home-made coleslaw.

Sheree’s Handy Hints

1. I typicallly make these with chickpeas, blackbeans or haricot beans and a mix of wild mushrooms for their lovely umami flavour. Please do not use white button mushrooms.

2. I tend to add whatever vegetables I have to hand, ensuring, particularly in the case of spinach or courgettes (zucchini) that I have squeezed as much water out of them as possible otherwise the patties will to be too wet. You need to aim for cake dropping consistency.

3. Add whatever fresh or dried herbs and spices you like. Typically, if I make the patties with black beans, I’ll make them much spicier adding smoked paprika, chillies etc

4. You can of course fry these but wherever possible I try to eat less fried food so prefer to roast them in the oven.

5. These are also delicious cold and used as a sandwich filling.

Sculpture Saturday #20

This sculpture from Saint-Paul de Vence is by Niçois André Verdet (1913 – 2004) a painter, sculptor, poet and potter who was a contemporary of Picasso.

This challenge used to be hosted by the Mind over Memory blogger but, sadly, she no longer has the time. However, we have been saved by Sally Kelly over at Ruined for Life: Phoenix Edition who has most kindly now offered to host.

Share a photo of a sculpture – go on, give it a go, you know you want to!

Friday Photo Challenge – friendship

This week’s photo challenge is set by Sandy on the theme of friendship.

It’s at this point as i look at my archives, I wish I took more photos of people!

Let us out!
I wonder what these two are thinking?
Not enough social distancing and where are their masks?
My best friend
My two younger sisters who are great friends
My late parents (left) with their best friends who are still with us (right

I’m much enjoying these weekly challenges hosted on alternate weeks by either Amanda or Sandy because they force me to think about what’s in my photo archives and how I might re-use them.

If you’ve enjoyed this post, why not join in the fun?

Friendly Friday

One from the vaults: Back from the Basque country

Usually at this time of year we’re just heading back from the Basque Country having watched one of my favourite one-day bike races, the Clasica. We missed out last year while we were enjoying our #adventuredownunder so i was particularly looking forward to spending a week at Akelarre – a restaurant that’s now become a hotel too – and watching some bike racing. Hey ho, there’s always next year. Meanwhile, here’s one I prepared earlier…….

I’m back from a number of days of unintended blog silence. Although the hotel we stayed at in San  Sebastián had free WiFi, I decided not to take my notepad with me. On these short trips, I really want my beloved to have a break. If I start using my notepad he’ll get out his laptop and start working. I do allow him to remain in contact via his phone but somehow that seems less intrusive.

I had so enjoyed my trip last year to the Basque country that I was looking for any excuse for another visit. The Clasica Ciclista San Sebastian was happy to oblige. It was originally planned as a solo trip, while my beloved was in the Far East, but, when his trip was delayed for a couple of weeks, he decided to join me.

I flew from Nice to Bordeaux, took the bus to Bordeaux station and then a train to San Sebastian. The hotel was a 15 minute walk from the station and within sight of the start and finish line of the race. I could have waited for my beloved, who was going to fly into Bordeaux later that day, but experience has taught me never to wait for him unless there’s absolutely no alternative. In any event his flight was late and, still suffering from jet lag, he decided to stay overnight in an airport hotel and drive up the next morning. Meanwhile, I spent many hours happily wandering around San Sebastian enjoying it’s architecture, sights, sounds and smells. This place is foodie heaven.

On our trip last year we had made the pilgrimage to Arzak, a restaurant with 3 Michelin stars and rated 8th best restaurant in the world.  About three months before our trip it took me endless emails to finally secure a table one lunch time. This year it took just one. I always say when you can easily get a table in a city’s top restaurant, you know it’s enjoying tough times. Initially, unsure whether I would be able to secure a booking at Arzak, I also tried to book tables at two of the city’s other 3 starred restaurants. Again, there was absolutely no problem in obtaining a table. Yes, I know three x 3 starred restaurants is way over the top. I agree. I cancelled one of them.

Not only were there gastronomic delights in store but I found out  Bon Jovi were in town Friday evening for the penultimate date of their 2010/11 World Tour. There was no problem in buying tickets which ranged in price from Euros 20 (standing) to Euros 275 (Diamond VIP Circle). Now I’m not sure exactly what you got for your money for the top priced ticket but, at the very least, I’d want a night with Jon Bon Jovi himself. I plumped for tickets costing Euros 60, allocated seats. It’s official, I’m old. This is the first concert I’ve ever attended, and I’ve attended plenty, where I’ve deliberately opted for a seat.

Despite, or because of, his Garmin, my beloved arrived in San Sebastián, minus his jacket, which he’d left in the airport hotel bedroom, and with barely enough time to make our lunch date at Arzak. It was just as good as we remembered. It’s not a restaurant that you could eat at regularly because there’s a real sense of drama and theatre when you eat there which would be lost with regular visits. We had a mind-bogglingly fantastic meal (again) and left feeling truly sated. We’d work off those calories at that evening’s Bon Jovi concert.

After a long walk along one of San Sebastian’s beaches, cooling our feet off in the warm water lapping the sand, we drove over to the football stadium to see Bon Jovi. The boys didn’t disappoint, despite it being the end of a very lengthy tour, belting out 27 songs from their repertoire with gusto. I did however think that in the big screen close ups they looked tired, too many nights with the Diamond VIP circle perhaps?

Saturday heralded the main event and we were handily poised to soak up the pre-race atmosphere which is very relaxed and familiar, not at all like the Tour de France. The event is obviously well supported by the Basque riders who earned the loud, vocal support of the crowd. Equally well received were such luminaries as Sylvain Chavanel, Frank Schleck and Philippe Gilbert. This is an event typically won by an in form rider off the back of the Tour de France and merry go round of criteriums. Indeed, Phil Gil had flown in on a private jet in the early hours. Nonetheless, he looked as fresh as a daisy and once the orange led peloton had reeled in the early escapees, Sammy Sanchez launched his offensive to escape from the Belgian flag clad Walloon.

Sunday heralded a visit to another 3 starred establishment, Akelarre, situated beyond Monte Igueldo, with a panoramic view of the sea. This was pure Basque cuisine ratched up several notches. Again, it was a highly enjoyable meal in very relaxing surroundings. However, for me, the highlight was a guided tour of the kitchen by the chef and restaurant owner, Pedro Subijana.

While we’re heading back to the Basque country in early September to watch the stages of the Vuelta near Bilbao, I am already plotting my return to San Sebastian next year. I am hoping to combine the Tour of the Basque Country (early April) with a cookery course in Basque cuisine. As a consequence, I have been trying my hand at a few words in Basque. I just need the Basque made simple or Basque for idiots course, then I’ll be all set.

Thursday doors #79

This is my third batch of doors from a recent trip to Mougins village which proved to be fertile door hunting territory.

 

Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favourite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post each week and then sharing your link in the comments’ on Norm’s site, anytime between Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American Eastern Time).