BB1538 : Plus de BOOT

It was cold when we left Liverpool on Monday morning.

It was near freezing when we arrived at Nice.  

Snow could be seen lying on the hills surrounding Menton.  

Artificial snow was being laid in the town and sprayed on the Christmas Tree in the Jardin Bioves.

The BOOTboys were back in town after a gap of several years.

It was Plus de BOOT.

Christmas comes to Menton

Monday 23rd November:

What Can The Matter Be?

After lunch, I had business to attend (i.e. a snooze) so I left Stan and John to wander around the town.  When they returned, John was singing:

 Oh dear, what can the matter be?

Poor old Stan was locked in the lavatory

He’d have been there from Monday to Saturday

If John hadn’t known he was there!

It seems the technology to unlock the door had temporarily defeated Stan. Meanwhile angry mesdames were banging on the door in their desperation.

Tuesday 24th November:

Three Perched Villages.  Closed.

The bus delivered us to St Agnes, the highest coastal village in France, mid morning in glorious sunshine.

The first objective was the Maginot Line Fort.  However, not surprisingly, it was closed. On the other hand the medieval castle atop the hill was open so we climbed to this tremendous viewpoint.

St Agnes from the hill top castle

Menton from St Agnes castle

Coastline for miles, mountains for even more.  We had earned a coffee.  

Sign over St Agnes door

Two of the three restaurants were closed but the third was almost fully booked for lunch (although no one had arrived).  That was not a problem- we planned to eat in Gorbio.

We had debated which way to go.  One possibility was the high road, that Stan and I took over the Cime de Baudon on BB0930 but we thought that too strenuous for a time of year when daylight could be short.

The second was the direct route as per BB0625 but I knew that there had been a landslide at a very steep area.  Would we be able to traverse the debris?

The third option was a middle route about which we knew nothing.

We had heard rumours that there was a way round the blocked section of the direct route and, if that proved true, we would be in Gorbio in time for lunch at Chez Paulo- Les Terraces.

We decided to take the chance. It was a good decision. The path had indeed been swept away at a steep section but people had clearly found a way round.  

In fact, after a difficult initial six feet climb, I found the new trail less intimidating than the old, except for the blood sucking spiky plants that had to be negotiated.

The end of the path

The ghost of Stan in the old chapel

Inside the chapel

Lunch was less successful.  The café that had been recommended to us was open but the chef wasn’t there.  No food on sale.  Nor was the upmarket restaurant opposite any use.  Closed for winter.


Gorbio church

Comitibus: Gorbio

Gorbio washing

Undeterred, we decided to carry on to the next perched village, the even more gentrified Rocquebrune.  This took a little longer than I anticipated.

Orange tree in full fruit but no leaves

The ridge to Rocquebrune

Part of the route was in shade and very cold.  But once back in the sunshine it proved a pleasant walk along a ridge offering Mediterranean views before dropping relentlessly downhill to the village.

Menton to Ventigmiglia

Towards Monaco

I knew there were at least three cafés in the village.  But, you’ve guessed, they were all closed.  So all that was left was for a further long descent to the bus to take us back to Menton.  At least this time an old lady didn’t offer her seat to Stan as had happened on an earlier visit (BB0625)!

Wednesday 25th  November:

Stan makes a young lady happy

This was intended to be a quiet day partially due to the weather forecast being somewhat grey.  We took the train across the Italian border to Ventimiglia.  Not being Friday it wasn’t market day so it was relatively quiet.  After a gentle stroll down to the beach we decided to cross over the river to the old town.

Take off!

Flower stall in the Ventimiglia market hall

Stan on Ventigmiglia beach

Ventigmiglia old town

This was quite a revelation.  Considerable effort has been put into running it back up and the tardis-like cathedral in particular was well worth a visit, especially for its Roman artefacts well displayed in the crypt.

St George and the dragon

Ancient wall mural and inscription

Inside the cathedral

Roman horse decor

Roman angels

Now we were here, we thought we should at least visit the small hill top below which the town is situated and which we thought had the remains of a castle. It proved to be rather higher than we anticipated and less of a castle (if any) than we thought but there was another, slightly larger hill a bit further on so we thought we should visit that.  And then again, although we concluded rather late in the climb that this wasn’t really worth visiting so we went back to the old town and found a nice little café overlooking the sea.  

Ventimiglia from the hill

The view from the café

It was sunny and the lunch was good.  The waitress was a very pleasant young lass who must have thought it was Christmas when she saw the size of the tip that Stan left her.  He knows how to make a young lady happy.

Ventigmiglia washing

Ventimiglia new harbour

Coming back across the border we were reminded how things have changed in the last few weeks.  The first station stop, Garavan, was full of police who mounted the train and gave everyone a good staring to ensure they were not terrorists.

After returning to Menton, where Christmas was arriving, we visited the Palais de l’Europe where over 100 photographers were displaying their pictures.  

Amongst them was Jilly Bennett (BB0836) who was also acting as judge for the Best in Show competition and understandably couldn't be considered for award.  

However she was eligible for the public vote and so we increased her tally by three.

To be fair, she deserved it.  

Her theme (as befits a former Cruft’s judge) was dogs.  All in black and white, full of character and beautifully displayed.

Jilly displays her photos

Inspired by her exhibit, here are some of my Menton Mono Mutts:

Thursday 26th November:  

Stan makes a young lady unhappy

This was to be the BIG day.  Mont Gramondo, standing 4,521 feet not far inland from the sea.  Stan and I had been there before but not John.  However, this time the bus was taking the tunnel under the Col de Castillon rather than being able to drop us off at the Col summit.  Our walk had to start from the village, some distance lower down.  

Castillon Church bell

One for Tony?

Castillon art

A BOOTboys transport wagon?

Once we reached the Col and could see over to Sospel we had a change of plan and what a good thing we did.  Not just because it was cold and the days being rather shorter now than on our last visit.  Although we didn’t know it at the decision point, a bitterly cold and very strong wind would suddenly spring from nowhere.  It must have been evil on the tops.  Instead, we followed a trail that meandered safely through pleasant, albeit at times frozen, woodland along the side of a hill then dropped down towards the valley.  

Stan and John take a breather

Sospel comes into view

Just as we thought we were reaching civilisation it took a cruel turn.  A fence forced us to climb high again.  Being unexpected, our legs were unprepared for such punishment and it hurt.  Eventually our fortunes changed and we were able to drop down into the small town without further punishment.  

The bridge to the east side

East riverside dwellings

Our problem now was to find somewhere in the sun where we could sit and eat the butties we had bought back at the bus station.  Understandably for a place in the south of France, all the public seats were in the shade.  However on the other side of the river we spotted a bench by the old public washing vats that was in full sun.

Pride of Sospel?

The old wash house

Once refuelled we went back across the river to explore Sospel.  In reality there is little to explore other than its cathedral.

Outside and ....

.... inside Sospel cathedral

So having done that and faced with a two hour wait for the return bus we looked for a café where we could sit outside in the sun.  

We didn’t find one but after recrossing the river we did find a nice, small and very friendly café back near the wash house. We called in for coffee and, in my case, an excellent crème brulée.  

As per yesterday, we had good food served by a very pleasant waitress.

However Stan, no doubt influenced the ribbing he had had over his gratuity generosity, decided that one was not necessary today.

The poor, unhappy girl must have wondered what she had done wrong.

Sospel lighting

Stan, on the other hand argued, that over the course of the two days his tipping policy averaged out just right.

Friday 27th November:

Mr Nice of Nice?

It was a fast trip back to the airport but then the fun started.  My rucksack was taken off the security conveyor belt and I was apprehended by a large lady speaking rapid French.  I thought she wanted to see the contents of my rucksack so I made to open it.  

Non! Non!

I feared an intimate search but she painted me with some strange gel.  Top and bottom of hands and shoes.  Then she politely released me.  I didn’t understand what was happening but Stan, who knows about these things, said that she had confused me with a drug smuggler and needed to check that I was not carrying any prohibited substances.

Seemingly such items leave a trace on the skin that can be revealed with this special gel.

Mr Notso Nice?

Fortunately I am not the Nice equivalent of the infamous Mr Nice.

And, as we know from the way Stan sometimes treats (or fails to treat) waitresses, occasionaly he isn’t nice.

I was beginning to think that the "Nice" accolade should go to John for his unfailing good humour at putting up with the two of us!

But then he deserted us in the airport waiting area to lord it over us from the executive lounge. Mr Notso Nice of Nice? Hey-ho! Nevermind.

Thanks, boys, for your company.  You helped make it a fun and memorable trip.

Don, Friday 27th November.

This Train Is For Flu

I kid you not.  It is official. Here is a genuine, unaltered photo of the sign in the train carriage as seen when travelling from Birmingham to Leicester last Sunday.

The fact is not surprising.  The honesty is.  But there again, it was extremely crowded.  Aaaahhh---tishoooooo!





Monday 23rd - Friday 27th November 2015


BB1538a St Agnes

BB1538c Sospel

Distance (miles):

8.7 (Garmin)

8.9 (Garmin)

Climbed (feet):

1,823 (Memory Map)

2,343 (Memory Map)

Descended (feet):

3,795 (Memory Map)

2,898 (Memory Map)


St Agnes, Gorbio, Rocquebrune

Castillon, Sospel, Nice


Don, John Hn, Stan

Unfortunately we have no stats for BB1538c Ventimiglia


BOOTboys routes are put online in gpx format which should work with most mapping software. You can follow our route in detail by downloading bb1538a and bb1538c.

To discover which Wainwright top was visited on which BB outing - although it may not be that up to date - or for the totals of the mileages and heights (ditto) see the Excel file: BB Log.

You can navigate to the required report via the Home Page

Photos have been gleaned from many sources
although mostly from me and other
boys. Likewise written comment.

I apologise if I have failed to acknowledge properly the source or infringed
copyright.  Please let me know and I will do my best to put things right.

Unless stated otherwise, please feel free to download the material if you wish.
A reference back to this website would be appreciated.


To see which Wainwright top was visited on which BB outing see Which Wainwright When? This may or may not be up to date!

For the latest totals of the mileages, heights and Lakeland Fells Books Wainwrights see: Wainwrights.
Ditto warning!

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BOOTboys 2015



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