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French Lemon Casino Caper


 French Lemon Casino Caper is indeed a cute title – n’est ce pas? but more than that it is also relevant. Because, as you will recall in my LAST POST the subject was oranges. (and alcohol, bien sur) So now, it’s time for Lemons. (and yes, I promise, the next post will not be about the Bells of St. Clemens!)

So – why Lemons?  Why is yer ‘ole pal DA BG  – goo-ru of French Country Travel Life, ramblin’ on about Lemons?

Well, it’s like this. I rarely watch TV. And on those rare occasions, my choice of fare is almost always a documentary. Over the past month, there have been three docs pass my screen totally concerned with, or referencing, the lemons of Menton.

Now, as you will recall from “French Geography for Smarties” Menton (pro: “mon tawn”) is at the tail end of the French Riviera. Smack dab against the Italian border. This factoid means that Menton is a “shopping portal.” The temporary destination of other Riveria-ites who pass through it to Italy. Where they shop ’til they drop at lower-than-French prices. And return. With no duty, no customs check. (That’s Europe, folks!)

Other than that singular point of distinction, Menton, is yet another fun- in- the- sun -on- the -cote- d’zur location. But, happily, without the faux glitz and nose in the air attitude of Cannes. Or the “jet set-we-bathe-in-$100-champagne” ambience of St. Tropez.

But in the hills above the city(what the locals who’ve never seen the Rockies would call “Mountains”) there grows the fabled Lemons of Menton.

Why all the fuss over these “citrons?” Well, first of all, the “LOM” is not as acidic as it’s non Menton Brothers. While it’s always a semantic minefield to attempt to “describe” a taste(unless you’re a nerdy wine snob) the lack of acidity gives the LOM a softer, more subtle flavor. Very much favored by Gourmet restauranteurs. Most of whom, on the Riviera, have a “dedicated” supplier in them thar hills.


As you might expect, this revered Citron is Menton’s prinicpal claim to fame. And as such is celebrated with  a yearly festival. Now in it’s 8Oth year. That’s the good news. The bad is that owing to the fact there are only about 15 “Lemonists” left in Menton, the majority, if not all of the  145 tons of fruit needed is imported from……you guessed it……Morocco!

Menton’s Lemons are partially, if not totally responible for Monaco’s Casino culture. This is because “back in the day” Menton was a part of Monaco. The heavily-taxed-for-it’s-Lemons part.

Finally, “mad as hell and not going to take it anymore” the Menton-ites, taking a cue from Robespierre and his posse – revolted. Peacefully, I’m happy to report. The result left Monaco without the mountains  o’ cash the lemon taxes had provided. Viola – enter the Casino!

As you would expect there is a “Hotel Lemon” in Menton. Certainly “Tarte du Citron”. And tho’ I haven’t checked, I’d be willing to bet a bottle of  Chateau Pichon, Comtessee de la Lande 1984, that you could also find an organic juice bar offering “Lemon smoothies.”

Prove me wrong and get a great bottle of wine. Now, how cool is that?


What are ya thinkin’?

French Coronavirus – Hasn’t Changed The French Spirit


French Coronavirus – Hasn’t Changed The French Spirit. If anything, it’s made it stronger.

With COVID-19 still an unwelcome force to be reckoned with – the French people are showing their spirit and solidarity. They are not, and will not  be beaten down by this invisible invader.

Everywhere, in city and countryside, the outpouring of co-operation and solidarity is constant and increasing. Students voluntering to visit and shop for the elderly. Factory and construction workers given up their personal time to pitch in. And, as I noted in THIS POST, even one of France’s, and the World’s wealthiest private companies, has demonstrated it’s Covid-19 battle comittment

Despite their losses, The French will not only survive Conoravirus. But they, as a nation will emerge even stronger. Having reforged their National Identity through solidarity and self-sacrifice.

Here are three “Treasures of France” which exemplify that identity:

  1. This Village

2. This Landscape.

3. This Historic Wine Region.



The Mad King


authors note: It’s rare that I write on a non-French subject. But this situation concerns the World.

In his recent book, “The Mad King – His Non-Fake Facts”, Investigative Journalist Atherton Cooper details the “career arc” of the conman who became (a self-appointed) King. Donald Trump.

As he was ascending to his “throne” (courtesy of the Electoral College, not the “will of the people” as he frequently claims,) in this post, I wrote: “Donald Trump is America’s Hitler.”

The parallels are chilling.To say the least.

Immigrants discriminated against and barred from entering. (By the son of an immigrant.)

Children seperated from their parents and locked up in cages in unsanitary and inhuman conditions.

Racist attacks on rival female politicans of color and different religious beliefs to “go back where they came from.” When, despite their ethnicity, they were “born in the U.S.A.”

And perhaps the most startling revelation was his first wife’s comment that “the donald’s” bedtime reading was Hitler’s Mein Kampf,which he annotated.

At first glance you might think that’s another thin “maybe” factoid. Until you consider the not coincidental similarities between the two dictators labels for critical media.

Hitler – “lying news.”
Trump – “fake news.”

Clearly, no American, of either party, ever expected they would be governed by a president who retained control of his business interests(through his sons), profited directly from the public purse – charging higher than usual prices for secret service accomodation at his hotels – playing golf at his own courses on the taxpayers back , while bragging that he wasn’t taking his presidental salary, and, in contrast to every other president, not making his tax returns public.

The bottom line is simple: Donald Trump is a conman. Who, by virtue of a gaping flaw in the American political system, got the opportunity to run the biggest con imaginable : Taking America to the cleaners. HIS cleaners.

As Mr. Cooper explains in “The Mad King”, Trump started out as, and remains, a bully. (Albiet now, sadly, on a larger stage).

The reason his father sent him to military school was the discovery that Donald was planning to go to the “bad” side of new York, to buy a switchblade.

The bully morphed easily into a conman. Aided by his Father’s wealth and credit line.

He conned the New Jersey Gaming Commission into granting him a casino lisence, without the usual checks saying he was: “too young to get into any trouble.”

But the Donalds casinos were, as you probably know, were nothing but trouble. Rapidly closing.

Undeterred, Trump conned on. Always demanding the highest payout, always stiffing contractors and employees, and sueing anyone who wouldn’t “play ball” on Trumps diamond.

His greatest success as a con artist, was convincing too many Americans that he was the consumate businessman, who would “drain the swamp” and “run America like a business.” (One of his few Truthful statements. He does run America like a business. HIS business.)

This “Business Czar” fairytale was “validated” by his book, “The Art of the Deal”, written by Tony Swartz.(not Trump) And by his reality TV show : “The Apprentice.”

A classic example of style over substance.

Trump has failed at more than 30 business endeavours. Trump Steaks. Trump airlines,Trump, the game, the list of losers goes on and on. And, not to forget the ultimate “you can be rich like me” con – Trump University.

The Donald, in spite of Daddy’s money and credit line, has gone backrupt four times.
And when American banks finally got smart and refused to lend him anymore, Trump knocked on the doors of European banks. (Now, so we’re told, releasing Trump financial records to investigators.)

All Trump’s of conning, given his character and history is not suprising.

What is suprising is that no one, not even the scores of mental Health professionals, who were, at the get go, warning that Trump was “dangerous”; forsaw that he would become Deadly. Literally. To the American people.

By(before the Coronavirus pandemic) disbanding the agency that was responsible for preparing for exactly what Amercia is now facing; by his deperate attempts to turn every disaster into an excuse for self-praise; by continuing to stoke resentment against Asian Amercians by called Covid-19 “the Chinese Virus”, and worst of all, by not pulling out all the stops to give medical professionals the supplies they need, Donald Trump has confimed his madness. And in the process, sentenced an as yet unknown number of Amercians, to death.

Beneath his narcissism,beneath the incredible hubris, Donald Trump, the ultimate conman, the serial liar is certainly telling the truth to himself.

The truth that future generations will, and rightly, link his name with the other mad king. The one from Bavaria.

What a legacy to leave your son.