Friday, April 19, 2019

Menton France

Photos taken in March 2017

Click here for more photos of Menton.

Menton is a pleasant little city on the Mediterranean coast of France near the Italian border.  During the 13th century, the Vento family of Genoa built a castle along the Roman road, now the site of the Vieux-Château cemetery, providing the core around which the current town grew.  This small, medieval town is now the oldest & most charming neighborhood in Menton.  The castle was built at the top of a steep hill, not very large, nor very high.  There are wonderful views of the Mediterranean Sea from the hill.  The view from the plaza by the two churches is stunning.  The rest of Menton is pleasant & peaceful with a certain amount of quiet activity.  There are as many stores & restaurants as you might need.   I was staying in Nice when I came here.

This is an urban landscape you would never see in the United States.  Hills like this are not developed into high density neighborhoods.  But very narrow streets like those of the medieval city could be used on level ground to form small & dense townhouse developments free of cars & near transit.  I've seen something like this done including garages.  But there should be car-free options for housing in an urban environment.  

From my travel journal: I got the train to Menton at 10 AM. The train took 40 minutes each way. I loved Menton! The 18th-19th century town was nice. The medieval hill town was fantastic! The narrow streets wound around & criss-crossed the hill, going under arches & up steps. The houses were nice, but not too nice. There were few tourists. Real people seemed to live there. The views of the Mediterranean, the city & surrounding hills were excellent from the top. There were 3 castles up there between 1200 & 1800. But two were destroyed in wars & the 3rd fell apart & was replaced with a cemetery. There were two interesting churches & a school on a small plaza halfway up the hill. People were out with their dogs. Farther up the hill some residents came with groceries & set the bags by their door. Their cat ran down the street & stuck its head in a bag. Then they all went inside. There was a market hall down in the lower city near the beach. Inside were stalls with fish, meat, or produce. One just had spices. I got a sandwich that was breaded & fried chicken fillets with fries in the sandwich, on an 8-inch baguette. It was oh so starchy. Pigeons harassed me while I ate it on a bench.

Friday, April 5, 2019

Jardin Exotique de Monaco

Photos taken in March 2017

Click here for more photos of Monaco.
Click here for a video of the view of Monaco from the Jardin Exotique.

The Jardin Exotique de Monaco is an extensive & densely planted succulent garden with excellent views of Monaco & the Mediterranean Sea.  This alone would be enough.  But in addition, there are two fascinating sites within the garden.  The first is a deep cave with guided tours.  The second is an engaging museum filled with artifacts found in the cave.  These items date back as far as the Neolithic Period.  There are bones of animals now extinct.  I used to live in the Los Angeles area & have seen many succulent gardens.  The plants here are the same as there: mostly cactus, Aloe, Euphorbia & Agave. Some are quite large.  The garden was dedicated in 1933.