Friday, November 30, 2007


This is Holly, a beautiful Japanese Chin, the first of this breed to appear on Riviera Dogs. Pretty Holly may have Japanese origins but she lives in Denmark with her very nice owner, who kindly allowed me to photograph her here sitting near to the beach, in Menton.

Monday, November 26, 2007


Lody's most helpful owner posed him for me several times but the sun was bright and the shadows were difficult. I hope, tho, you can see what a very smart Labrit he is. Yes, that's what they call a Berger de Pyrénées in France and Monaco. You see him here crossing Boulevard Albert 1 in Monaco below.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


I met this Shiba Inu at Cap 3000, the big shopping centre just outside Nice - beyond the airport. They are originally from Japan, although her owner told me that Honey was bred in the United States. Inu is Japanese for dog. The Shiba Inu is the smallest of the Japanese native breeds of dog and was originally developed for hunting by sight and scent in dense undergrowth. There are more Shiba Inus in Japan than any other breed and it was in 7000 BC that the ancestors of today's Shiba may have accompanied the earliest immigrants to Japan.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Bichon or bichon?

We at the Saturday market in Menton today. This market is held outside the main covered market. This little dog is a Bichon Maltais, I believe - what is called in other countries, a Maltese Terrier. It's hard to tell - perhaps it's a Bichon Frisé but with rather a straight coat. Anyway she's cute.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Market dog - 2

This black cocker spaniel is often sitting here outside the main market in Menton and near one of the outside stalls whilst his owner works. He looks resigned - 'Okay, I'm here for the morning and I'd better make the best of it.' Dogs are great, aren't they? So long as they are with us, they are happy.

Our puppies 17 weeks

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Caves of Balzi Rossi

Balzi Rossi beach

I blame the bridges. Some of you know I post a photograph every day on Menton Daily Photo and also Monte Carlo Daily Photo. Well, on the first day of each month, the City Daily Photo family run a Theme Day. For instance, in the past, we've had to post photos on such diverse subjects as: a tombstone, street signs, the colour blue, a typical breakfast, a public mail box, men at work - and so on.

The Theme for December is a bridge. I had a few ideas but decided to ask my knowledgeable friend on all-things-Menton, Marie-Hélène. M-H is a talented Dutch painter, who has been living in the south of France for about as long as me - at first in Menton and now in the beautiful medieval village of Roquebrune.

'There's a bridge at Balzi Rossi,' she said. 'Drive to the border, turn right towards the Restaurant Balzi Rossi and park. On the left you'll see the bridge and tucked into some of its arches is a café, now closed. M-H told me that this restaurant had a strange sort of licence where they weren't allowed to serve outside, so they used to call out people's names when the food was ready. Customers then collected the food themselves, sat outside and ate it, and so the licence was adhered to. Sounds very Italian to me.

So I settle the dogs and off I go. I find the bridge, take a few photographs and then wander on, past the Restaurant Balzi Rossi and I see, on the left, the Museo Prehistorico dei Balzi Rossi. I've lived here for 16 years and never knew it existed. I walk past the museum and on to the sea. Rugged, with the sea bashing against the rocks. So unlike the calm coastline in Menton. Every time I cross the border into Italy, it amazes me how different the feel is from one side of the border to the other. Not just rocks and sea, but the whole atmosphere is different, the people are different. A few miles and you are in a different world. I confess I often wish I'd chosen Italy over France but it's a bit late now and anyway it's only a hop, skip and jump across the border, so stop complaining Jilly. And again, what's wrong with France and especially Menton - and of course the answer is nothing. It's all wonderful.

I take a few shots of the rocks and sea and look up at the great red cliff face. Balzi Rossi means Red Rocks. I decide to pop into the museum for a few moments on my way back to the car. I enter. There's a well-padded friendly lady behind the counter. Standing near to her is a rather stern-faced gentleman. I look the length of the museum and realise I'm the only visitor. I get out my purse and ask the lady, 'How much, please.' 'Two euros,' she says. Seems cheap to me and I open my purse. She looks at me and then asks, 'How old are you?' I tell her. 'Oh, then you can go in for nothing,' she says. Well there I was in my Polo jeans, my nifty pale pink t-shirt, my trendy waistcoat from Diesel in New York and she's guessed my age. Dammit. Well of course there are advantages to being older - many - but really I'd rather it wasn't assumed. People, when they see me, are supposed to throw up their hands in surprise and say 'Oh no really, you look so much younger.' Fat chance.

So, I'm two euros richer. The lady gives me a gratuito ticket and I'm free to look around. I notice all the exhibits have explanations in Italian, which I don't speak. I ask if there is a brochure in English or French. The lady points to a revolving stand with A4 sized plasticized explanations and photos in many languages. 'You can borrow one,' she says, 'but you can't take it away with you.' I ask if I might photograph it (I need the information for Menton Daily Photo). At this point, the stern-faced man rushes up, 'No, no, no. No photographs allowed,' he says. I explain I have a blog and would like to mention the museum and so need to have the information. 'No, no photographs allowed.'

I know it's forbidden to take photographs in museums, but a photograph of a brochure - for heaven's sake. So I get out my notebook and pen, but there's nowhere to write. Obviously I can't lean on any of the display cases, some of which I've already noticed contain fossils of dead bodies. Hardly the thing to do even if they are 240,000 years old.

The friendly lady, as opposed to the unfriendly man, tells me there is a table at the far end and I can use that. I walk past wall displays and start to write.

"The Balzi Rossi caves are at the southern limit of the hilly massif of the Alps, which separate Liguria from what is now known at the Côte d'Azur. This particular topography meant that the caves were en route - as well as a convenient stopping point - for those who travelled through or lived in this region over the millennia. The famous 'triple burial' - the skeletons of a Cro-Magnon adult male, girl and young boy, were discovered in the Barma Grande cave."

I continue writing for a while - if you are interested in more information and more photographs, please visit THIS LINK and scroll down to read the various entries.

By now, I'm feeling just a little daunted. Nice Lady and Not so Nice Gentleman are looking at me, talking about me. I need to show some real interest in the displays but I know nothing about palaeontology. They continue to watch me. Do they think I want to steal a fossil? In any case, everything is behind glass. I wander about looking at the various displays; fossils of so many animals - elephant, rhinoceros, reindeer, bear, groundhogs - and flint tools, photographs - all of which are fascinating.

Eventually I'm done and I go to leave. I make a few polite comments, 'How amazing' and 'Incredible to think...' and 'Very interesting museum' - all of which I mean. It is indeed fascinating - I was struck by how small the skulls are of the 'triple burial' mentioned above. The Not S0 Friendly Gentleman seems pleased. Perhaps he isn't so unfriendly, after all, and is just so proud of his museum. Don't always assume people are as you first find them, Jilly. Mind you, he could have let me photograph the brochure.

'Now you go and visit the caves,' says Nice Lady. And I thought I was done for the day and could go home to the dogs... and lunch.

She takes me outside and indicates a car. I'd noticed a lady sitting in this car when I walked past earlier. It turns out she sits in the car all day waiting to take visitors from the museum to the caves. I assume I'm to get in and be driven to wherever the caves are, not realising I'd walked past them earlier and that they are simply just above the museum. Nice Lady puts out her hand and stops me opening the passenger side fo the car. 'You walk,' she says.

A skinny lady, messy blond hair, smoking a cigarette gets out of the car. She's wearing black boots and a black coat. Not your typical museum guide I feel. Unfortunately she doesn't speak one word of French or English and so we converse in sign language and with gestures and, with the little understanding I have of Italian, we somehow manage. Note to self: must learn Italian - it's such a beautiful language.

It occurs to me that three employees to show one visitor around is a mite excessive. Talk about overstaffed. No wonder the Italian economy works as it does.

We walk up the ramp to a bridge, which I discover is over the main railway line that connects the French and Italian Rivieras. At the entrance to the bridge is an iron gate. She takes a large key from her pocket and unlocks the gate. She gestures me to walk thru and she turns around, takes another cigarette from a packet in her pocket and walks towards a white plastic chair where she sits and lights up. She is obviously going to wait for my return. I'm on my own now.

I breathe a sigh of relief. At least I don't have to pretend I'm a visiting academic from America - not that there's any chance of that, I might add. By way of an aside, I've noticed some French people have a problem distinguishing accents and can't tell if we are American or English - or South African or Australian, come to that. I remember when I lived in the Pyrenées I was watching an American film on television. It had subtitles in French and one of the Frenchmen in the room asked me, quite seriously, 'Do you understand that language?' 'Of course I do,' I replied, 'it's in English.' 'But it's an American film,' he said, 'I didn't know you understood American.' It astounded me that he didn't realise American and English are the same language. But hey, come to think of it, perhaps he was right.

I cross the bridge and walk up some fairly steep steps and then up a sandy track. The view is fabulous, the rock face extraordinary. First I come to the Grotta del Caviglioni where elephant and rhinoceros fossils were discovered. I walk further - more steps and a longer sandy path and come to Grotta di Florestano. Florestano, Prince of Monaco, excavated this cave between 1846 and 1857 where the discovery was made of a fragment of thin bone belonging to a pre-Neanderthal woman, who walked erect. Ths is the oldest human fragment ever found in Italy.

Were I braver, I'd probably have entered one of the caves but I would have brought a torch with me and preferably a dog to protect me from the ghosts of the prehistoric creatures. I'd love to do so actually as I understand there are some cave paintings to be seen. But I'm not brave, so I walk back to the lady in black, who is still smoking her cigarettes.

The entrance to Florestano's cave

I'm done. Home to the dogs and lunch But no, my guide now takes me to a second building, also part of the museum, where she indicates there are two floors of exhibits for me to view. I can hardly refuse. She will wait for me, doubtless smoking as she does so.

Here are many photographs and graphs and explanations of the caves and the cave-dwellers. There are some figurines too - miniature sculptures of well-rounded female nudes, fashioned - depending on the region - from ivory, antler, or soft stone. The treatment seems to have followed certain rules, the most obvious being an over-emphasis on the fleshy parts of the body (buttocks, stomach and chest) and at times, an explicit portrayal of various sexual attributes. Plus ça change. The most famous is the Grimaldi Venus, fashioned in serpentine and which depicts a pregnant woman.

I sneak a few photographs when I'm on the upper level of this building and eventually I'm done. I leave. The guide locks up behind me and walks back to her car. I linger, enjoying the view and trying to get my head around prehistoric man who lived here forever ago and how I want to try and write about it on a blog that will somehow be read by you in an instant. I give up trying. Time to go home to the dogs - and a late lunch. I can get my head around that. The dogs need a run in the garden and I'm hungry.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


I nearly called this dog The Metropole Dog because I met him in the Metropole shopping centre in Monaco, asked his owner his name and then promptly forgot it. Fortunately I bumped into her again at the cash desk in FNAC, asked her again and then wrote it down! When I first met Jumbo he was being made a great fuss of - and thoroughly enjoying it too. Isn't he a handsome chap?

Sunday, November 11, 2007


This old Spitz-type dog suffers badly from arthritis so his Italian owners have made this trolley for him - and look how happy he is being pushed along the seafront in Menton. Sometimes the extremes to which people will go for their dogs astounds me - but that's love of a dog, of course and provided the dog is not in pain, why not?

Friday, November 9, 2007

Our puppies 16 weeks

Street dogs

These dogs are tied up, waiting for their owner, outside a supermarket in Menton. You can see another photo and read more about these street dogs at THIS LINK.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007


This Hungarian Vizla didn't move a muscle when I photographed him. He was tied up to a bench in the shopping centre of Fontvieille, Monaco - outside the Carrefour supermarket - patiently waiting for his owner to finish shopping. And as I inched closed to take the shot below, this laid-back dog simply closed his eyes!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Buddha the Boxer

Meet Buddha, the 4 month old Boxer puppy, playing here with a piece of string. He was attached to one of the market stalls in Menton (not the main market, but the one under the bridge on the way to the autoroute). His young owners proudly told me his father is a French champion and his grandfather is a World champion. I chopped the top of his head off in the photo below but I love it anyway. So forgive me. Scroll down and you'll see Buddha's French bulldog friend - 'don't take my bone' you can hear him say! Isn't he too adorable?!