A week in the Riviera

I just came back from a ten-day business cum photowalking adventure in the sunny climes of the south of France but instead of unpacking my bag, I have to top it off with yet  more clothing – the thermal variety in fact – as day after tomorrow, I am heading to the much colder north – Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Malmo.

Well,  call it a holiday but I’m actually playing tourist guide to my sister and her family for their one week Easter vacation.  Indeed,  far too short especially if they are flying seven hours and aiming at three cities – but then, if you are a Europhile, I suppose it gets more exciting as you see one city after another, right?  Last summer, they covered 14 cities in 17 days..and they love it so much they are back once more!

I’m quite excited, of course, considering that this will be my first time to step foot in Scandinavia. I’ve been raring to see how life in that part of the Continent differs from the mainland. Oh well, I shall talk about my findings when I return, complete with hordes of photographs for your enjoyment!

Meanwhile, let me share with you how I managed to squeeze a lot of places in my ten days of errand-purposed trip to the French Riviera.

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Blooms!  that is the great thing about Spring!  After the long grey winters, suddenly you find yourself surrounded by flowers of bright yellows and all colours you can imagine!  These are the Forsythia shrubs. After a long dormant winter, its the flowers (yellow) that will come out first, followed by the leaves.

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The Ventimiglia station in Italy.  This is where I wait for the Trenitalia train to take me home to the mountains.

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Days before Palm Sunday, you see palm fronds on sale already in big towns such as Menton.

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Menton, being the citrus capital of France, has most of its roads and alleys lined up with trees bearing these agrumes.  Luckily, I was there while the trees were exploding with their golden coloured fruits.  They hold their lemon festival every February.

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This is where you buy potted lemon trees for decorating your terrace.

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It’s raining lemons in Springtime, you see them used even as decorations!

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This is the Roya river that flows through the entire length of the Roya valley  – or Val Roia of the Italian section – out into the Mediterranean sea.

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This is a church in Cap d’Ail where the saints’ statues are already covered for the incoming Holy Week celebration.

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Went coastal walking in Cap d’Ail and got mesmerized by the staggering scenery!

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Kilometers-long walk that took me to Monaco…

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Show me flowers and my heart will sing for you!

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How does the Cote d’Azur look like in Springtime?

– it’s the beginning of water sports activities!

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– it’s the coming out of this cotton-like flowers..

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– it’s the season of prickly pears

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– when the sunbathing season begins

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– and sun worshippers are on their best form

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– when beach workers, sunbathers and sportifs are happy doing their thing side by side

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– when beaches become alive again

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Ooopps, I have to squeeze here a short photo-tale of my favorite Spring plant

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– the Pride of Madeira

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It can grow tall and wide like a tree!

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The cone-shaped clusters can reach a length of 20 inches!

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The flowers are well-loved by bees and the honey these bees produced are well-prized for their flavour!

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These are the tulips by the Casino garden

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And this is the Casino de Montecarlo

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Sometimes I feel I am not worthy to step in Monaco grounds..;but I had to,  in the name of photography!

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The village of fontan – using the Pop Art mode of my Point and Shoot

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The Presidential election is happening next month so poster boards are out again on the streets.

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A solitary house in the Roya Valley as viewed from the top (taken while walking to the hilltop village of Saorge)

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The first view of Saorge

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An olive tree is like a sculpture of God, so beautiful and free flowing..

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Early Spring is also the season of mimosas!

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And this is the mimosa tree in full bloom – my reason for visiting Saorge.  These flowers last for only two weeks!

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The Baroque interior of a church in Saorge

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Two churches of the village.  There are five more in this tiny place of 430 inhabitants

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Even the rosemary plant is in bloom!  You should try roasting chicken with this herb.  It’s so tasty!

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A tiny terrace in Saorge

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Menton, the pearl of France