My “Auntie” Jilly lives just below Gorbio village. She recently bought an new 24″ iMac and needed some help in migrating files between her Windows machine and the Mac over the LAN. I don’t know Mac OS X that well; I know unix like systems and Mac is a BSD derivative under the hood, but the graphical user interface and the location of things are different from those I know (OpenBSD, FreeBSD, NetBSD, Ubuntu, Debian, and Redhat) and add to the fact I use unix-like systems for servers more than a personal desktop, the differences can take some time getting used to. But I digress.

Menton road, looking
west towards Gorbio.

Gorbio lies in the hills (aka mountains) above Menton (official site) about 20 minutes drive east of Monaco. The southern Alpes come right up to the water between Nice and Italy, so most of the villages and homes are all built on the side of the mountain with views overlooking the Mediterranean sea.

It takes me about an hour from my place in Cannes to get to Jilly’s place, which is just below Gorbio village under the A8 autoroute viaduct. You might think it would be pretty noisy there, but the sound of traffic is pretty muted; the sound seems to go outwards and upwards rather than downwards, probably because the autoroute itself blocks the noise. I suppose it also helps that she’s partially deaf, so the location works out well for her.

The autoroute is a bit of an eyesore, but otherwise Jilly is in an nice location for what she does, which is run a pension, essentially a doggy hotel where the dogs have free rein of the house and fenced in garden. People who travel or need to quarantine their animals before moving countries can leave their pets with Jilly knowing that they will be loved, cared for, and have others to play with.

Menton road, below Gorbio

I left the A8 autoroute at La Turbie (official site) and drove along the Grand Corniche till I reached the D50 road just before Roquebrune village (official site). The D50 road is a narrow road that passes above Roquebrune and traverses the hilly terrain to approach Gorbio from the west. There are only two roads into Gorbio, the D50 and the road coming up from Menton on the east side.

When ever I go to visit Jilly in Gorbio, I tend to always come along the D50. I really find it a pleasant scenic drive. The mountain side is covered in evergreens and a scattering of deciduous trees. Driving along this route you really feel like you’re really isolated, despite the proximity of the coast, the autoroute, and the popular tourist towns. One thing about France is the towns are small and there is often a clear distinction between village and country side. The city of Nice is the 5th largest in France, yet it’s tiny compared to what I’m used to; Toronto, Montreal, Sydney. So everything else is just that much smaller. One minute your in a popular coastal town, next your in the Alpine highlands.

On this day, it was gloriously overcast. The clouds were just above the village at around 900 metres. It reminded me so much of being in the Swiss mountain village of Leysin, where I spent many a ski season during my teens. There the clouds often descend to envelope the village, imposing a peaceful blanket of silence. This day in Gorbio was almost the same, though the clouds wouldn’t come much lower.

The Beau Sejour
in autumn.

Jilly invited me to lunch in the village at the Beau Sejour. I love this place. It has a wonderfully delicious menu. We had a Brouilly red wine, a Farandole, which consists of a small salad surrounded by deep fried eggplant and courgette flower, Barbajuan, dried ham, and melon. For the main course I had a lovely sliced breast of duck in green pepper sauce. After came cheeses and dessert. I was obviously very very stuff by the end. If I fell down I might have rolled down the road all the way to Menton.

From the Beau Sejour dinning room, you have a beautiful view of the valley and the front terrace opens onto the village square, where you find a fountain and 300 year old oak tree. From the square you have access to the old village where can be found rustic residences and a couple of artistic stores and galleries.

Gorbio is also the part time home of Sayed Haider Raza, a contemporary Indian artist. He lives in the village half the year and the other half in Paris. His wife (buried in Gorbio) was an artist too and the work of both of them is shown at the village chateau. I hope to write about their work another time.

All in all, my time in Gorbio yesterday was glorious relaxing and pleasurable, even though I was working supposedly 🙂 I recommend it to anyone looking to get away for a day’s outing be them local to the Riviera or tourist.

Winter Sheets

No sooner that I put the winter sheets on the bed, guess who decides to settle into a warm comfy spot – Baka. Good thing he had a bath the day before, but now he’s as white as the duvet cover. I wonder if he’d be visible without the blue pillows.

My previous bichon, Cotton, was really hard to spot in the snow at night. All one could see was three black spots for his eyes and nose. Guess the same would be true of Baka against the white duvet.

Waiting For The Rain

photo by @unclr
photo by @unclr and used under the terms of the Creative Commons

@unclr’s photo above comes closest to the view I saw as the clouds rolled in from the east over the hills of Cannes with the sun coming up behind them. It was like watching an army on the march, ready to spring into an attack, yet just keeps walking on by towards a battle front far away.

That same evening, after the clouds had marched away, the early evening was sunny and warm for this time of year. Normally by now in Cannes, it is more sweater weather with cool north winds and/or rain, but for these past couple of weeks has been like those indian summers I’d experienced often in Canada. Can you still call it indian summer when France doesn’t have any aboriginal people?

Today it’s still warm in Cannes, though partly cloudy. I’ve written before how I like turbulent weather. While walking Baka at lunch I looked longingly at the sky hoping it will rain sometime before the end of the day. Though I suspect I’m going to be denied that pleasure for a long while yet.

Looking back…

While walking Baka one early morning, the sun rise was reflected in the scattered clouds that had a blood like colour that slowly cooled as we completed our morning circuit.

A few days later, during another walk with Baka in the late evening during the trailing edge of the setting sun, the sky just at the point between deep dark navy blue and utter black. The only contrast was the early risen crescent moon.

At the time I wrote the above, I had had a mixture of thoughts as to what should be expressed. I realised I was actually thinking of two different images at once and chose to describe the first. It was only later as I prepared for sleep that the second came to the fore.

Nearby to where I live is an old chapel in a domain (think small gated community). I forget the name of it just now. One day I really should walk over there and snap some pics. In the eight years I’ve lived in this neighbourhood I’ve only driven by twice. I haven’t quite figure this chapel out, since it doesn’t chime like one might expect. I suspect they have a system of simplified chimes that is intended not to disturb the residents late at night.

Anyway, it is one of those lovely rustic European customs I adore that give so much character to a place, much like the 42 year old grandfather clock from my parent’s old chalet, which now graces my apartment. The chimes that remind me of so much of memories past.