Follonica, Toscana

Even if we work hard all mornings in the B&B, we have the afternoons off, a good chance for H and myself to get into the car and start exploring the countryside.

Today we decided to go to the beach of neighbouring Follonica, a good 10-minute drive from Scarlino where we are based. We did not really find the town attractive enough for sightseeing when we drove there the first time some ten days ago, what with the characterless highrise apartment complexes and a tall chimney at the outskirts spouting heavy fumes which look very out of place – and unhealthy – to the  amazing agricultural and mountainous landscape of Tuscany.

But seeing it today has completely changed our outlook of Follonica – from initial dislike to complete fascination, all courtesy of their Beach!

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This is the spouting chimney which is actually a waste incinerator.  Of course, the locals are not happy about this and have been meeting regularly to get the authorities close the factory.  I don’t blame them.  The acrid smell is so strong and spreads even hundreds of miles farther during strong winds.

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Sand lines,with the town of Follonica in the background

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Sleep time for the Nonnos (grandfathers)

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This Colonia Marina used to be a vacation home of Mussolini when he was young, as told to us by two Signoras we met on the beach.  They noticed H photographing the building and were so kind enough to act as tourist guide.  Albeit our broken Italians, we actually understood each other!

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Are these holiday homes?  Fascinating to see different style of architecture for each one.  They look empty though.

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Noticeably, each home is tightly secured with grills.  We were told by our two tourist guides that the Colonia Marina next door is also home to the Homeless so we reckon this is to keep them at bay.  But that doesn’t stop the sun and beach lovers – like Nonno here – from sitting on their steps.

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And a lot of them actually….

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Lovers wearing the same colours….how romantic!

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Golden shutters, why not?

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Fiery orange – my favourite colour of autumn is also in Tuscany!

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The port of Scarlino (in the background) and the port of Follonica (foreground)

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A typical Italian sight – old people sitting and chatting together in the piazza

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A toy puppy

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The beach huts of Follonica.  It gets extremely busy here in the summer.

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The imitation bag traders

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Next time I come to Follonica, I’ll make sure I dress smartly

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H and I

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Sunset

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Sunset

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Sunset

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Fisherman and the island of Elba (silhouette in the background)

Blue Menton in the Autumn

We stopped by the coastal town of Menton today and how unceasingly we raved about how lucky we are for having the chance to live in this part of the world!  Truly, the turquoise blue mediterranean sea could lift one’s spirit through the roof! 

The Cote d’Azur could be one of the most expensive places on earth but look what you get in exchange of your hard-earned cash  (or “old money” if you inherited it from your wealthy parents )- Sun, Sea, Sand and may I add, Blue!

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This 17th century Bastion used to be a military fort for protecting the town against marine invasion, particularly from Genova (Italy).  It was converted into an exhibition place for Jean Cocteau’s work, including drawings, paintings and tapestries.

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Just a few sunbathers today

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Last week’s storm brought big waves and along with it, rocks…. so volleyball is suspended in the meantime.

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The marina of Menton

A date in Tuscany

H and I have always wanted to do something different. 

Incurable travelers – partly to satisfy our nomadic lifestyle and mainly because of H’s job which takes us relocating for short periods to various cities in Europe, we spend more time away from our principal home so that when our neighbours get the odd chance to see us in the village boulangerie (bakery), their standard question is:  “so when are you leaving again?”

We always dreamed of travelling to some distant land for a purpose and the country we always had in mind is Italy, the land of “la dolce vita” (the sweet life)  for it satisfies all our requirements of good taste, quality, culture, beauty, great food, a strong sense of family, Latina passion, not to mention the staggering landscape, architecture, art, music. 

Total immersion to Italian culture, acquiring new skills (from house renovation and interior design to farming, making cheese, drying tomatoes, etc),  speaking in Italian,  cooking their cuisine like a pro, but most of all, the experience to live, work and breathe the Italian way of life is decidedly a lifetime dream for H and myself.

And the timing is right.  H has just wrapped up a work contract so he is free to plan anything, at least for the next three months. 

We got the idea of Helpx while reading a newspaper article on the web and the chance to live in an Italian household for a period, with free food and accommodation caught our interest.  Besides, winter is approaching and our 200-year old village house becomes a fridge at night.  We always dislike the winter, well, it’s nice to see snow sometimes but it’s quite depressing being cold for months on end.  In the past, we always managed to spend the winter in warmer lands.  Two years ago, while Europe was freezing, we were exploring the Visayas (Philippines) in our lightest clothes (it’s quite humid out there!).  Last year, we were wearing short-sleeved tops in Corfu, Greece at Christmas.  Few weeks later, we were watching the Arab Spring rebellion on TV from our air conditioned accommodation in the UAE.  

This year, we have been wondering where is our next winter destination, until this Helpx opportunity came.

We saw the “Helpers Wanted” ad of a Bed and Breakfast luxury villa in Tuscany (a region of Italy that we have been raring to visit), emailed the owner, sent our CV and two days later, we received a call from the lady-assistant of the proprietress (the latter was on a business trip to the U.S. that time) relaying the invitation for us to come and stay at the B&B for three days so we can get to know each other and see how it goes. 

The next thing we knew, we were driving towards Tuscany, extremely looking forward to this new adventure!

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After driving for 5 hours, we finally see the signs of Toscana, hurray!

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The B&B is located in the outskirt of Scarlino village but when one is searching for an address for the first time, it’s just natural to get lost.  This is the road going up to Scarlino (which we were not supposed to take but it’s only in getting lost that one discovers a lot of things).  If worse comes to worst that we don’t find the place, we could always spend the night on this rural hotel.

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Entering the village, the atmosphere looks very relaxing, as is natural in all Italian borghi (villages).

While the children play, the mums chat away.

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…and the nonni (grandfathers) catch up with football news in the piazza.

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Found the B&B at last!  Met up with Anna, the owner, and were shown our accommodation.  Now, if you see freshly picked bouquet  like this one in your room, it clearly means, “Welcome to Tuscany!”  The red box contains flyers and brochures of “where to eat” and “where to go”.  Isn’t it neat!

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At the lobby, these colourful chess pieces is tempting us to play it. 

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Day Two – We slept like a log!  The bed is heavenly soft!  After breakfast, we went exploring the grounds.  It is a cloudy day but we could see the silhouette of Elba, that famous  island where Napoleon was exiled, and behind it is the bigger and longer island of Corsica. 

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Our rendezvous with the owner is at mid-day so we have enough time to hike down the valley and up.  The hotel is perched on top of the hill and it takes 40 minutes each way to walk at a leisurely pace, which is great because you get to see scenes like this.  The Olive harvest has just finished and the next job is to prune the trees so that air easily circulates around the branches, encouraging a higher fruit yield for next year.

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Vineyards interspersed with olive groves dot the Tuscan landscape.  We notice the colour of the soil, practically golden.  We suspect it is rich in nutrients that make it perfect for growing produce. 

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The vineyards, now bereft of grapes, for harvest started in September.  All that is left are the leaves which are turning into orange and gold, the colours of autumn.

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Careful training and control of the growth of trunk and leaves is important to produce the highest quality of the grapes.  It’s not the quantity that counts here.

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Along the road, we see these cork trees.  The bark produces the cork used in wine bottle stoppers.  Sadly, the use of plastic corks for wine bottles is becoming more and more of a trend, making the business of harvesting corks a disappearing industry.  But there are still wine regions of France that uses the natural cork and one of them is Bordeaux. 

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The Tuscan landscape is mainly agricultural.  Vineyards, olive and other fruit orchards mesh in perfect symmetry where cypress trees serve as territorial borders.

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Day Two, – We went to check the Port of Scarlino where its marina is famed for yachting competitions.  It’s amazing to see a thick conifer forest along the coast, practically serving as barrier against any possible tsunami, or, we reckon, a most-needed shade in the summer for beachgoers who want to protect their skin from the burning sun.

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The Port of Scarlino, partial view.

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The historic village of Scarlino Alta (Upper)
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One of the best things about this volunteer work is that, the hotel kitchen is at our complete disposal.  And by “hotel kitchen”, I mean serious kitchen where there is a chef to prepare meals for guests of this 7-luxury room villa.  It has all the gadgets and ingredients to create an Italian gastronomic meal. 

To describe it in simpler terms:  for the first time in our 12 years of married life, H, himself, prepared our dinner for three consecutive nights!  I couldn’t believe it myself!  His comment:  he is just too inspired to cook in a chef’s kitchen!

The improvised pizza above is my own concoction.  Using foccacia as base, I dabbed it with the juice of cherry tomatoes, then covered it with slices of the same type of pomodoro, added parma ham cut thinly by H from the ham-cutting machine, sliced mushrooms, cheese, thyme and olive oil….absolutely delish!  Ambrosia! (“food for the gods” in Greek)

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The hotel has just been operating for two years so the garden is still in its infant stage.  But Anna has grandiose plans to make it into a colourful paradise.

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Day Three – It’s the end of our 3-day trial stay so we are now heading back home to France.  Today is Sunday, a day when sports enthusiasts like these cyclists are a regular sight on local roads.

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Goodbye Scarlino.  We’ll be back in ten days’ time to start our volunteer work, hopefully to last until February next year.  We will surely make time to visit Siena which is just 70 km away:  1 hour 10minutes by car!

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Another typical Tuscan landscape along the main road.

Photodiary – October 2011

Daily Photos

31 October 2011

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A ‘trick-or-treat’ing’ neighbour complete with a witch’s broom and a tiny witch hat

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Bow-wow-wow! Who’s the scariest of them all?
Home, Vallee de la Roya, France

30 October 2011
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A Sunday walk in Breil sur Roya, one of the most visited villages in the Vallee de la Roya
Alpes-Maritimes, France

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Which one is real and which one is not?
A mural in Breil sur Roya

29 October 2011

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Villa of Sir Thomas Hanbury
It’s Saturday, the entire village is quiet as everyone seems to be away for the long All Saint’s Day weekend so in order not to be left out, we decided to get out of the house and go to Italy. It’s been almost 8 years since we have been planning to visit this charming mediterranean garden of Thomas Hanbury just off the Italian-French border. We first heard it from an English-couple who once was our guest at our apartment in Vence when we used to run it as a holiday flat. Since then, H and I had been promising ourselves to visit this Botanic garden place but our busy and travelling lifestyle always kept us from realizing this plan, hence, we decided to do it today, hurray!

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The tomb of Hanbury and his wife. He died in 1907 at the age of 75. He purchased the 18-hectare land, together with the ancient ruins of the 11th century Palazzo Orengo with a fortune acquired in China from trading in silk, cotton, tea and property. The garden was declared a Nature Preserve in 2000.

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Giant cacti, tropical plants from all over the world where Thomas Hanbury traveled and collected seeds and cuttings and planted them in this huge garden that juts down into the sea.

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The visit lasted for two hours since they were closing up at 5pm but our hearts were racing, truly excited about the beautiful plants that are simply out of this world! H says this must be one of the most beautiful gardens he has ever seen. We promised to return in Springtime when all the flowers will be in full bloom!

28 October 2011

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Went to the village of Mortola superior in Italy (just half an hour from home) which is 300meters above sea level and noticed with amazement how these vines climbing from someone’s wall has not turned orange yet. Take it from the long sunny days the Italian Riviera is famous for.

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While we have been going through freezing cold days in Paris as early as September, here in the Riviera you can still see bougainvilleas in their brightest colours!
Mortola, Italy

27 October 2011

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Went to the historic town of Vence for H’s bi-annual rendezvous with his medecin (doctor).

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We used to live in this town, city of arts and flowers. Here you can find the works of famous artists such as Henri Matisse’s Rosary Chapel and Marc Chagall’s mosaic art displayed inside the Vence Cathedral.

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This is the famous mountain of St Jeanette as seen from a square in Vence. The building in the foreground is the Centre Culturel where I used to attend my first French lessons. I’m still learning it now, mind you, after 12 years in France!

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After that short trip of our ex-town, we stopped over in the coastal town of Cagnes sur Mer to take in some of the Cote d’Azur’s sea air. I haven’t been feeling well lately, must be the flu, and I thought a generous dose of sea air would clear it all up. And in between inhaling/exhaling, watching the going ons on the water is such a delight!

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Eglise des Pecheurs (Fishermen’s church) of Cros de Cagnes, the coastal quarter of Cagnes sur Mer.

25 October 2011

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We finally got the caravan hooked into the car and towed it through the morning traffic of Lyon without worries. We drove towards the High Alps in the southeast. The red, yellow and orange colours of autumn is fantastic! With the mountains framing the landscape, it’s like a picture postcard!

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What a delight to stumble upon the walnut orchards just outside Grenoble. Walnut trees as far as the eye can see! These are the famous Noix de Grenoble which was awarded in 1938 an Apellation d’Origine Controlee, a title given to French wines. (Earlier this month, we also saw the chickens of Bourg-en-Bresse with the same AOC title!)

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We have arrived at the spot where our dear caravan will be kept until we are ready to take her back out again, sometime in 2012 perhaps!

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Such beautiful surroundings! We promised that when we return, we shall do a more detailed exploration of this jewel part of France, the Isere.
L’Albenc, Isere, Rhone-Alps, France

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Now lighter without the caravan, we continued our drive towards home but not without stopping at places that catch our curiousity. We are now in the town of La Mure. Fascinating to see the entire road lined up with flowers. Flower shops after flower shops who gamely display their chrysanthenum collection for the approaching All Saints’ Day.

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La Mure is a small town in the heart of the Alps, south of the department of Isère,
about 900 m above sea level on the Plateau Matheysin.

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Errr..we actually stopped in La Mure just to buy some patisserie. We’ve been driving continuously and my sweet tooth is craving for something nice…

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Would have loved to sit for their famous fondue but we need to get going, ouch!

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CORPS, the name of this village which we drove past by. I got curious because Corps in French means “body”. It’s a very pretty mountain village with only 500 inhabitants but of course, increases multifold in the summer when holidaymakers invade the area.

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Corps is the last village before getting through the mountains of the High Alps.

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From our moving car, we  get a glimpse of old and remote chapels like this one so the camera has to be ready for that split of a second shot.

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It’s getting near midnight and we needed some few minutes nap before we can move again. Home is just three hours away and it would be nice to sleep in our own soft bed. Our nap stop is the 17th century fortified village of Entrevaux in the Var (Provence), seen here with its impressive Porte Royale gateway.

24 October 2011

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We just stopped over in Paris yesterday to break the still long journey. Today we are hitting the motorway again, onwards to Lyon to collect our caravan. Meanwhile, I took a photo of this hay truck on the autoroute, I don’t know but I find hays and everything about it very photogenic!
Somewhere in A6…

23 October 2011

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Back home to Paris! This is the peripherique or ring road where full concentration is required so we don’t miss the appropriate Exit, otherwise, it would be extremely tortuous to go back. Luckily, it’s a Sunday morning, when all Parisians are having a “grasse matinee” (“fatty morning” which means to stay late in bed), so no heavy traffic on the road.

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Exhausted from several days travelling, we treated ourselves to a Moroccan cuisine – the Tagine.

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A piping hot lamb tagine! Delish!

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We always discussed about eating in this Moroccan restaurant one day, and that day came today. The place was full and our neighbouring diners have only praises for the food! We did not get disappointed! And the ambience is truly Moroccan.
Arpajon, Ile-de-France

22 October 2011

 

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It’s Saturday morning, while driving to our next destination we see cyclists taking the entire lane as if it’s the Tour de France! Cycling has been making a comeback in the UK and the London mayor himself is strongly supporting it.

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UK is the land of Costa coffee. This franchised cafe is everywhere: in the motorway, in Tesco supermarkets, in the High Streets….We are already missing French cafes!

Our Fifth Stop: Maidstone

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A family that walks together stays together.
Maidstone, UK

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Maidstone prides itself for having the most number of medieval buildings in the whole of the UK, so that when weird structures like this one sprouts up, the local residents howl. I like it though.

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The 14th century Archbishop’s Palace along the river Medway

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The Archbishop’s Palace now houses the Kent Register Office.

A wedding is about to take place and these ladies are rushing to join the wedding party.

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Next Stop: HYTHE

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And the last English town before we leave for France tonight: DYMCHURCH

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A Martello tower along the coast of Dymchurch. This is just one of the remaining 45 towers (originally 103) which was built between 1805 to 1812 to protect England from Napoleon Bonaparte’s invasion. They are built of brick, 3 floors, the roof containing the cannons and 2.5 ton gun

21 October 2011

ARUNDEL

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English sightseeing continuing, our second stop is the historic town of Arundel dominated by its hilltop castle, considered as one of the finest castle in Britain. Arundel Castle was constructed shortly after the Norman Conquest of Britain by Robert de Montgomery in circa 1067.

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The French Gothic style Arundel Cathedral built in 1873

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Still in Arundel

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A trip to the UK is not complete without trying their legendary fish and chips!

LITTLEHAMPTON

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Third Stop is the seaside resort town of Littlehampton

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Ancient tombs in Littlehampton church

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The grandiose houses of Littlehampton

CHICHESTER

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Fourth Stop is the cathedral city of Chichester

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The market cross of Chichester. In Britain, this structure marks the market square of a town.

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And purposely enough, it is used as a meeting point as well as a resting place after a busy day shopping.

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Street workers, particularly those of the State, are easily recognizable by their reflector vests. This is one of the first things you will notice upon entering the UK, the reflector uniform .

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Autumn fashion in the UK

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A must-do when visiting the UK is going for a meal and a drink at a pub. We went someplace big, pleasant and seemingly popular as people of all ages never stopped getting in. But what a shock when H was served red wine in a glass! Staff says they ran out of wineglass! We looked around us and noticed that everyone was drinking beer in tall glasses so how can they run out of wineglasses?

“They probably are too busy to do some washing..” H retorted.

20 October 2011

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No sooner have we laid out our suitcases than we have to pick them all up again to take our flight to England. The plan is, we have to pick our British car from a garage in West Sussex then drive it all the way down to the south of France, stopping over in few places enroute…

This is a shot from my plane seat and down below is the glacier-covered mountains of the French Alps.

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We are just leaving the French airspace and the earthy colour down below is the sand dunes of the Reserve Naturale de la Baie de Sommes, a paradise for birds, shellfish hunters as well as seals. This bay is actually listed in the select club of the Most Beautiful Bays of the World, alongside San Francisco Bay and Ha Long Bay of Vietnam.

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We are now coming into British airspace and seen below is southeast of England with its white sandy beaches and well-laid out urban planning.

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Gatwick airport carpark viewed from the sky!

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As soon as we landed at Gatwick, we picked the car right away so we can start some sightseeing. We allotted only two days for this Southeast of England trip and I am looking forward to a lot of photographic opps!

First Stop: East Grinstead, West Sussex
Timber-framed houses dating back to 1451.

 

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St Swithun’s Church, rebuilt in 1789.
East Grinstead, West Sussex, England

17 October 2011

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A market trip to Ventimiglia is not complete without taking a walk at the sea promenade. It’s one of the most beautiful sight in this last coastal town of Italy before getting into France. This is the old town perched on a Ligurian hill.
Ventimiglia, Italy

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The mountain on the right is Italian and those on the left are French. I am now standing in Italy looking at the French town of Menton on the left. Faintly visible and just looks like a whitish impression on the left side of the photo but it is indeed Menton, the lemon capital of France.
Ventimiglia, Italy

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Marketing and sightseeing done, it’s now time to go home to prepare lunch, but alas, the entire mountain road to home is blocked!

The notice says it is temporarily closed for roadworks stating opening times of 6pm to 8am the next day, re-opening briefly from 12:30pm to 2pm for lunch. So we just missed it by few minutes!

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Nothing much we can do except take the long detour via the long and windy back mountain roads of the French Alps. This is the lemon town of Menton which we have to pass through in order to get to the detour road.

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From the 20-minute ride to home which is now blocked, we are forced to take the longer and more windy road via Sospel which is about one hour of driving. It’s quite picturesque though, seeing viaducts like this one, a helical shape actually.

This is the curved viaduct of Caramel which is about 10km north of Menton. It was built in 1913 to link Menton to Sospel. Before the present day windy mountain road was constructed, the little villages on the way were accessible via a tramway route. Traces of the old 1,000m long tunnel that was built for the tramway is still visible. I wonder why they closed it.

Check my flickr photo of this viaduct.
Route to Sospel, France

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This is charming town of Sospel

16 October 2011

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Home sweet home!
After days of travelling on the road, we’re finally home and the first thing we did this morning was to take a walk, savor the fresh mountain air and relish the fiery colours of autumn!
Alpes-Martimes, South of France

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The good thing about living in the Italian border is having both French and Italian trains passing through our village every hour. If we want to go skiing in Italy, Limone is just half an hour away, and if we want to go sunbathing in a French beach, it’s also half an hour away, what more can we ask for!

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And sights like this is just on our doorstep!
Alpes-Maritimes, South of France

15 October 2011

We love to stay longer in Belley so much but we have to get back to the road and continue the drive on to home. The colours of autumn are really spectacular today because it was a beautiful day and the sun hitting the orangey leaves renders them more intense and fiery!

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A cosmos field in the Haute-Savoie! After sunflower fields, I think this is one of those that blows you away! I wonder what can they get out of the seeds or petals?

 

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A mural of rope climbers

 

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The early morning steam coming out from the newly-cultivated soil is just as spectacular!

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Stopping for a picnic. What I love about French countrysides is the presence of picnic tables for travellers.

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Picking pine cones to decorate my Christmas tree

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15 October 2011

The town of Belley

We spent the night in Belley, a decision well-done because when we woke up the next day, we discovered how absolutely charming the town is! It has the backdrop of the mountains of the High Alps and the architecture has a bit of Provencal flavour due to its proximity to Provence and the heritage buildings indicate that it was once the home of a Royalty. Indeed it was, as I found out that it was the Episcopal seat of the Duchy of Savoy.

“Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are.” Does this statement sounds familiar? Well, it is the famous quote of Jean Anthelme Brillat Savarin, one of the famous sons of Belley.

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It was a Saturday morning and the Open Air Market is on! A perfect moment to see and smell the fresh produce of the town.

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“The fate of a nation depends on the way that they eat.” …….Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

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“Cooking is one of the oldest arts and one that has rendered us the most important service in civic life.”…..Jean Anthelme Brillat Savarin

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“A dessert without cheese is like a beautiful woman with only one eye”…….Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

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“The pleasure of the table belongs to all ages, to all conditions, to all countries, and to all aeras; it mingles with all other pleasures, and remains at last to console us for their departure”The pleasure of the table belongs to all ages, to all conditions, to all countries, and to all aeras; it mingles with all other pleasures, and remains at last to console us for their departure.”…….Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

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Sacks of walnuts

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Statue of the Immaculate Concepcion in one of the town squares

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The 18th century Episcopal Palace is now a cultural center, a venue for official receptions and houses a library.

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The statue of St John the Baptist on the facade of the cathedral

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St John the Baptist Cathedral

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The tower of the Cathedral

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The Cathedral of St John as viewed from the park

 

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The flowery entrance to the park

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Some vestiges of Belley’s Roman origins

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The red-tiled roofscape of the town

14 October 2011

Today we start our drive down home to the south of France taking the National Road instead of the usual autoroute (expressway). Not only that we wanted to save on toll fees which could run to about a 100euros but we wanted to take our time, enjoy the countryside scenery, embroil in scenic driving and, naturally, speed photography!

Here are some shots I took from our moving car:

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The welcome sign of Cuisery is in the form of a book.
Burgundy, France

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A village of 1,700 inhabitants, would you believe it has 20 shops dealing with books of all kinds and ages!
Burgundy, France

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The chicken is the symbol of Bourg-en-Bresse. It is the only town in France where the Appellation d’Origin Contrôlée (AOC) is bestowed on its chicken, the same certification given to French wine.
Rhone-Alpes, France

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Chicken posters and adboards everywhere in Bourg-en-Bresse

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A Job Fair taking place at Ainterexpo Exhibition Hall
Rhone-Alpes, France

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The Statue of Liberty is back in France? No, it’s just the icon of La Liberté, a company especializing in renting spaces for weddings, baptisms…
Rhone-Alpes, France

 

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The village of Saint Rambert en Bugey, its church and the statue of the Virgin Mary (encircled)
Rhone-Alpes, France

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Another unnamed town in the Rhone-Alpes, France

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The rocky mountains of the Rhone-Alpes, France

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Stopped by in the town of Belley in the Rhone-Alpes, France

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An ancient signage in Belley

13 October 2011

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This is not a deformed sculpture. It’s the headless statue of Saint Denis who is carrying his head looking for a believer to give it to, before collapsing. In the 3rd century, he was beheaded by the Romans in front of the Temple of Mercury in Montmartre.
Square Suzanne BUISSON, Montrmartre, Paris 18th

12 October 2011

One of the street arts in Paris that I find cute is the grafitti mosaic of Jerome Gulon.

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“Cute” because it is tiny, but quite artistic. This is just one of the three he installed in Pont Alexander.

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close-up shot

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The other mosaic in Pont Alexander

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At close range.

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This one I found at Place des Abbesses in Montmartre is quite different though. I wonder who the artist is.

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Close-up

11 October 2011

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I love you…..Je t’aime…….Ti amo……Assavakkit….Te quiero..
Declaration of Love in 311 languages, engraved in a blue glazed wall, in the romantic garden of Square Jehan Rictus.

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The Wall of Love is the idea of Frederic Baron and calligraphed by Claire Kito. It has become a place of rendezvous for lovers and honeymooners around the world.
Place des Abbesses, Montmartre, Paris 18th

10 October 2011

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“Cosmos” in Greek means harmony or order or balanced. The Spanish priests who grew these flowers in Mexico were impressed by the evenly-placed petals and its cosmic beauty that they named it Cosmos.

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Iris flowers got its name from the Greek Goddess “Iris” considered to be the messenger of Love. It is often used to shower compliments on somebody.

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I used to grow this in my garden so when I saw it in someone’s frontyard, I felt nostalgic.

The plant’s name is “fuchsia”, discovered in the Caribbean by the French botanist Charles Plumier in 1696-7. He named it after the German Physician Leonhart Fuchs who was one of the founders of Botany. It was only in 1892 when the name was used as a colour.

The drooping, eardrop shape of a fuchsia flower symbolizes confiding love and trust.

9 October 2011

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A series of street lighting? A necklace?

It’s actually a spider’s web with droplets of water. It rained all night and I saw this just outside our door. I couldn’t find the spider though….

8 October 2011

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My most-awaited photographic exhibition, the Salon de la Photo, is ON!

Not only that H and I tried our hands on the new gadgets out in the market, all displayed in one roof, but we also earned valuable tips from the experts who willingly shared their secrets in taking amazing photos!

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Rubbed shoulders with my fellow amateurs

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…and had so much fun practicing on fashion photography, etc.!
Porte de Versailles, Paris 15th

7 October 2011

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It’s not an oil refinery, it’s the George Pompidou Center.

Inaugurated in 1977, it houses one of the most important museums in the world featuring more than 60,000 collection of modern and contemporary art in Europe, a vast public reference library, general documentation on 20th century art, a cinema and performance halls, a music research institute, educational activity areas, bookshops, a restaurant and a café.
Chatelet, Paris 4th

6 October 2011

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I finally saw this sculpture which I have read so much about. Created by Jean Marais and inaugurated on 25 February 1989, it is inspired by the famous 1943 short story of Marcel Ayme, “Le Passe-Muraille” (The man who could walk through walls)

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Montmartre, Paris 18th

5 October 2011

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This beautiful Llama is always an attraction to hikers and promenaders along the river Orge. I have photographed her several times but she’s just too cute to resist!

Ollainville, Essone (91)

4 October 2011

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Walking past a shop specializing in everything ancient, I noticed this beautiful Art Deco adaptation of “La Paresse” (Laziness), one of the 7 capital sins. The writing at the bottom says it was painted and engraved by Andre Lambert, 1918.

Saint-Germain de Pres, Paris 6th

3 October 2011

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If you are infested by rats and mice, fret no more! There is a shop specializing in eradicating these pests, although just by looking at the window display, one would think that the business owner is more passionate in keeping them instead.

Chatelet, Paris 1st

2 October 2011

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“Life is like a box of chocolates”, said Tom Hanks in the movie Forest Gump, “you never know what you’re gonna get”.

That’s why everytime I go out of the house, I always take my camera with me for I know there is always something waiting to be photographed. And verily so, on the way to the boulangerie (bakery), I stumbled upon this strange mushroom. I haven’t seen anything like it!

1 October 2011

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Waiting for the Metro at midnight after ambling at the Nuit Blanche
Paris

Theme: Halloween, All Saints’ Day and all

The last two weeks or so, we have been travelling around southeast of England, France and a bit of Italy and along the way I was able to accumulate photos relating to Halloween and All Saints’ Day and I thought it would be a very timely subject for this week’s theme. 

Halloween observance in Europe is not as lavish as they do in America but it’s kind of cute looking at shops’ fancy displays and board notices. 

It’s also fascinating how the French and most particularly the Italians honor their dead, just go to any cemetery in both countries and you will notice flowers – fresh alright – adorning the tombs almost all year round!

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East Grinstead, West Sussex, England

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Arundel, West Sussex, England

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Arundel, West Sussex, England

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Hythe, Kent, England

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Hythe, Kent, England

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Hythe, Kent, England

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Hythe, Kent, England

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La Mure, France

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Vence, France

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Mortola, Italy

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Mortola Cemetery, Italy

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Mortola Cemetery, Italy

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Fontan Cemetery, France

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Fontan Cemetery, France

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A trick-or-treating neighbour complete with a witch’s broom and a tiny witch hat
Fontan, France
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Bow-wow-wow! Who’s the scariest of us all?
Fontan, France