The summer flies by too damned fast for my taste. Tomorrow is already August 1st, with two-thirds of the season gone, and with that means you can't count on anyone in France to do anything at all except...go on vacation. Here in Nice, everyone around me is on vacation except for the service industry folks who either have no choice or are taking advantage of the heightened business opportunities.
The Bougainvillea in bloom in Nice
Pianist playing at Place Masséna
The Miroir d'Eau, Promenade de Paillon
Playing in the fountain jet, Miroir d'Eau
Gelati at Fenocchio, Place Rossetti
Scoglia without Pasta at Il Vicoletto
We have a lot of clients who are either trying to secure rental properties for September 1st (the most requested date of the entire year) or making a property purchase and are at the mercy of the banks and the Notaires...which are...on vacation. Getting anything done is like "pulling teeth" and our American clients are having a hard time understanding how it's even possible so many people can just "check out" of their lives for two, three or four weeks. But, they do.
Once you're here and immersed in the culture and lifestyle, doing anything else (like working all through the summer) would be completely out of synch, like showing up on a nude beach wearing baggy swim trunks. And besides, since you can't accomplish anything anyway, you might as well "profiter" from the tradition of taking the summer off. The down side is that everything related to taking that vacation is busier and more expensive, so you have to plan way ahead to make the most of it. For example, my friends and I have already secured our accommodations in Corsica for August 2020...to ensure we get the apartment we want and also get it at the right price. We're also trying to get our flights as we know how the prices shoot up and seats get sold out.
A couple weeks ago, my daughter, Erica, and I booked a last-minute three-day excursion to the Italian lake country we'll be taking next week. I managed to find a rental car at a decent price, but only from the Nice airport location, not from the one in town literally steps from my apartment...so it's a little more trouble, but a lot less expensive. Then, finding a hotel on any one of the lakes was near to impossible without blowing the budget, so we opted for a nice B&B on a road between Lago Orta and Lago Maggiore. Truth is that with experience, I've found it more convenient to stay outside of the towns for easier parking and access at any hour of the day or night, then we can visit the towns as we like, making a loop back to our B&B.
We've never had the pleasure of seeing Italy's famous lakes, so this is a special treat. It also means giving up a few beach days, but "c'est la vie" — the beach will be here when we get back and there will be lots of beach in Ibiza the following week, so I have no right to complain, now do I? (Stay tuned for reporting on the lake country in next Wednesday's Parler Nice Nouvellettre®.)
One of the reasons it's not possible for me (or lots of people I know) to ever return to the States to live full-time is this easy and inexpensive access to the 20+ countries in Western Europe, not to mention Eastern Europe and North Africa. Patty Sadauskas, my personal assistant who is currently enjoying her summer in Nimes (a town in the Languedoc not far from the border of Provence), is headed to Marrakech (Morocco) tomorrow for a mere 160€ round-trip on Ryanair, a flight that takes less than three hours. Now, how do you do that from the U.S.? The answer is: you don't.
When asked if I miss Paris when I'm in Nice, the truth is "no." One of my friends who moved to Nice from Paris about five years ago, author Timothy Jay Smith, when asked that same question, replied, "I miss Paris when I'm in Paris, but not when I'm in Nice."
I understand completely what he means by that. Paris is Paris and Paris is addictive — what I call "La Maladie." There is no way to ever get Paris out from under my skin, but there is so much more to France to which one can get addicted. Think of the French cities as different kinds of drugs. We can become alcoholics or smokers or indulge in both, but they are such different vices, "n'est-ce pas?" Thus it is with Paris and Nice. Fortunately, it's so easy and inexpensive to travel between them that we can indulge in both!
Friends arrived from Paris yesterday and said before coming, "We're in your hands re all things Nice." So, the onus is on me to show them the Nice I love. That's easy — the city does all the work for me by just being itself. Last night we strolled over the Old Town by way of Place Masséna and the Promenade de Paillon. Along the way, we passed a pianist who was playing a bright red upright in the middle of the Place. The kids were playing in the "Miroir d'Eau" — the fountain in the Promenade de Paillon, letting the jets shoot up between their legs as they seem to love most to do, while squealing.
After dinner at Le Bistrot d'Antoine (which closes as of this weekend for three weeks), we queued up for gelati at Fenocchio at Place Rossetti and watched the blue sky turn to a beautiful deep royal soon to turn to a midnight.
Later today we are headed to Le Galet for lunch, an elegant restaurant and private beach just in front of the Meriden Hotel, then I'll head off to the beach for a couple of hours (of what I call "My Beach Fix") while my friends see some of the sights. Tonight, we'll dine at Il Vicoletto, one of my top three restaurants in Nice where I will likely order up the "Scoglio" without the pasta that they make for me special and is absolutely divine. (If you order this, they will know immediately I sent you!)
Yep, summer in Nice is magical. (No, I am not thinking about Paris!)
26 rue des Francs Bourgeois, Paris 3rd Arrondissement
The 88 square-meter apartment is in a portion of the building that was once the carriage-house of a 17th-century “Hôtel Particulier” and was designed and decorated by our illustrious interior architect, Martine di Mattéo.
The apartment is situated on three levels:
1) a ground level living room/dining room with fully-equipped kitchen with laundry/utility area,
2) a master suite on the upper level including an arched window that spans the entire length of one wall with a separate toilet, full bathroom with claw-foot tub, shower and sink and
3) a second bedroom and bath on the lower level, all which provide its occupants with a real sense of privacy.
The main entry is on the beautiful courtyard and two large mirrored windows face the street providing complete privacy.
The apartment is being sold with all the furnishings valued at 35,000€.
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