An Energizing Week on the Côte d’Azur
It’s been quite a busy week while in Nice, which included doing a one-hour radio show with podcaster James Navé for his “Twice 5 Miles Radio” that airs on WPVMFM 103.7 in Asheville, North Carolina and a one-hour webinar for the Federation of Alliances Françaises USA…in my “spare” time. One late afternoon I held an informal meeting with my immediate neighbors (below me, above me and next to me) at my apartment to discuss the various issues in the building…that elicited a few “fireworks,” but earlier that day I had the pleasure of visiting our Fractional Ownership property “La Belle Terrasse” currently under a massive renovation, then lunching at the port in Villefranche-sur-Mer in full and beautiful sunlight.
Also in my “spare” time, I had blood tests to check cholesterol levels, scored the Pfizer booster vaccine and took an influenza vaccination, while watching protests along my street against the “pass sanitaire.” Along the way, I had some pretty amazing meals at two of Armand Crespo’s restaurants (Bar des Oiseaux and Peixes), had a first-time shopping excursion at the enormous shopping center, Cap 3000 and partied at Cave Wilson with a big group of American friends where John Garland Jones was singing.
Those are just a few of the things that were on my agenda this past week, while trying to fit in the weekly tasks of writing three Nouvellettres®, performing two-hour client consultations almost daily, meeting with an array of clients, colleagues and friends, visiting properties (especially one recently renovated for clients on the Promenade des Anglais) and tending to personal chores such as replacing lightbulbs, supermarketing and treating myself to a new coat (in beautiful aqua blue to match the sea) to wear in the taping of an upcoming House Hunters International episode. I even had time for a pedicure in the middle of it all, without counting the time it takes to answer about 150 emails a day, managing our accounting and tax questions, etc., etc., etc.
Are you exhausted just hearing about it? I am the one who should be, but all this activity gives me energy rather than being draining. Sometimes I feel like the Energizer Bunny—who was the “coolest symbol of long-lasting power” according to the 2017 Madison Avenue Walk of Fame Poll…in non-stop perpetual motion.
Benjamin Franklin once said that “If you want something done, ask a busy person.” There’s truth to that statement, because the busier I am, the better I manage my time. Perhaps you’d like to hear a bit more detail, especially about a few of the high points of the week?
Let’s start with the podcast and webinar. The podcast you won’t hear until James launches it in a few days, but we’ll be sure to give you notice so you can tune in. It was a casual conversation about life in Paris and France that may interest you if you’ve been dreaming of that kind of life. The webinar with the Alliance Française generated a large audience of about 250 people. It was the third time I’ve given the same presentation, but it’s always a bit different as the questions that come up differ. The AFUSA will post it on their site today or tomorrow for viewing at a later time, so again, stay tuned for information on how to access it. In Wednesday’s Nouvellettre® I hope to dig deeper into some of the questions that were asked in the chat that we didn’t have a chance to answer.
The meeting with my neighbors took place as a result of the postponement of our annual “Assemblée Générale”—the meeting of the “copropriété” to discuss and vote on building issues. My American neighbor had come to town for the meeting as had I, then it was postponed due to a delay in getting estimates for the “ravalement” (resurfacing) of the building. But instead of losing the opportunity, I saw this as a way to get together informally to discuss the future works, the new bigger balconies to which the City of Nice has approved, and the potential to install an elevator. I offered up my apartment as a venue, put out a bottle of rosé wine, nuts to munch on and hoped to discuss and accomplish things we wouldn’t be able to in the usual, more formal meeting with the other owners (of the boutiques on the ground level).
There are only four apartments that make up this body of owners: long-time residents living below me, my American neighbor next to me and the daughter and son-in-law of the couple below me, who recently moved in above me. We Americans are sandwiched by this French family who have always had a lot of clout in the building and also in the City of Nice as lawyers and members of the city council. They are tough to come up against, but my American neighbor is a lawyer, too, and she cannot and will not be bullied.
It was a friendly meeting until I asked the final question: “What about my getting a real toilet?” That’s when things started to heat up and the bottle of wine got opened. If you’ve followed the saga of my “sanibroyeur” macerating toilet that uses tiny pipes that go a long distance under our floors, then you know that for ten years, it’s been a legal battle—first against the seller of the property for a “vice caché” (hidden defect, that case took eight years, but I won it) and then a suit by the downstairs neighbors against me to install a “real” toilet (that uses normal, large sewage pipes), but who won’t give me permission to plumb it the only way we know how! (I swear this is true!) They want to run the pipes under my American neighbor’s bedroom floor, but she refuses. The downstairs neighbors think the court will force her to give me permission, and she insists they are wrong, as does my own lawyer.
The fireworks started when she told them under no uncertain terms would she give permission and would join me in a law suit against them to allow me to use the common area of the stairwell instead (which makes a lot more sense in our opinion)! I sat back and watched it in awe, making a “time-out” hand motion to get things calmed down, pouring more wine to ease everyone’s eruptive spirits. Politically speaking I’m not sure how this will play out in my favor or not, but it never hurts to get the cards on the table and find out who your friends are vs your enemies. Clearly, I am surrounded by both. We smiled and laughed as I ushered them out of my apartment and thanked my American neighbor for standing up for me.
La Belle Terrasse is coming along rapidly as the mason has taken it down to the studs, completely altered the staircase so that it spirals down to the living room and constructed a bathroom in a corner where a dining room existed. One big sample tile of terrazzo sat at the foot of the living room window showing us how beautiful the new floors were going to be. Usage starts in January, so there is much to do in very little time, but it’s showing tremendous progress. Each time we stand on the terrace overlooking the port with a view on Saint-Jean Cap Ferrat, we pinch ourselves with disbelief on our luck to have found such a special property. There are only a few shares left, so if you are interested, NOW is the time to contact us. See our website for more information and to reserve your share before it’s too late.
Our clients’ apartment on the Promenade des Anglais went from being a sow’s ear to a silk purse, thanks to our Interior Designer in Nice, Laura Poirier. I literally teared up when I walked in and saw the incredible transformation. Our clients arrive in Nice today to see it for the first time and I can’t wait to hear their reaction. They are sure to be thrilled, not only with the beautiful decor, but the amazing location directly on the sea with their own private garden. What a jewel! And they made the purchase completely sight unseen like so many of our clients this past year!
Dining out was a particular treat this week with two meals at an Armand Crespo restaurant. You simply can’t go wrong regardless of which of them you choose, but don’t think to go at the last minute (except Peixes that doesn’t take reservations at all). They book up very quickly—not with tourists, but with the locals who know and appreciate his culinary talents. The prices at all of his restaurants are what I call “ridiculous,” especially for the quality, since they are equal or often less expensive than the corner café.
Monsieur Crespo is usually present at the Bar des Oiseaux and always comes over to say hello when I am there…maybe because he knows I’ll blubber all over him with words of praise. He loves that. This time, after “uhmmming” through his Bourride de Poisson (a specialty of Provence and Languedoc, based on fish, seafood, and vegetables), I told him it was “ridicule,” meaning “ridiculously delicious.” His eyebrows went up in surprise and his eyes got big and round—clearly it didn’t quite translate into French the way it worked in English as a way of expressing how incredulous this simple dish was, way beyond the norm. Fortunately, I had a chance to explain!
Should you visit any one of his restaurants, do let them know “Adrienne” sent you—that’s how they know me. They are: Bistrot d’Antoine, Comptoir du Marché, Bar des Oiseaux, Peixes, La Cave du Cours, Bar de la Dégustation and a new one opening soon, Type 55. Here’s an article about him (in French) you might enjoy.
As an aside, I have a trick to share with you, that works well to be treated like royalty at any restaurant. When you make the reservation, always say “Bonjour, this is [your first name].” Then, after they are led to believe that they are supposed to already know you, ask politely for the table in a way that sounds familial: “Would you happen to have a table for two this evening at 8 p.m.?” (Do this in French, if you can, but in any language, it works.) What happens is that first, they will do whatever they can to accommodate you! Then, when you arrive for your reservation, they will not only “know” you, but will remember you, too. Trust me, it makes all the difference in how you are treated, as you go from being no one special to a VIP customer!
Now that I’ve gone to Cap 3000, I don’t ever have to go again, unless the Apple store is the target. It’s a piece of cake to get to by taking the #12 bus that runs along the Promenade des Anglais and ends at its front door. A massive shopping center with all the same stores as in any shopping center, there is not much more than can be found at Nicetoile (just a few streets away) and all of the shops that surround me in the Carré d’Or…with the exception of Apple. The nicest thing about it are the restaurants that overlook the sea. We had a particularly good meal at the Spanish restaurant Cañas y Tapas on Level 2 with a great view of the planes landing and taking off from the Nice Airport to the east and the neighboring town of Saint-Laurent-du-Var to the west. Aside from that, we found nothing of particular interest, although the pharmacy is so enormous that it’s like an American style big box store (closed on Sundays).
In the midst of it all, I learned that dimmable LED light bulbs are not only hard to find, but very expensive…after trips to five different stores to find them, including having to return some I purchased that weren’t dimmable at all. I learned to always check the train schedule between Villefranche-sur-Mer and Nice, before assuming one would be along any minute, lest one might be walking uphill a long way to catch the bus. I learned that Nice is awfully nice, even in the rain.
A la prochaine…
The Adrian Leeds Group®
Adrian on the port at Villefranche-sur-Mer
P.S. I’m headed back to Paris today and just in time to attend one of the two “vernissages” of Meredith Mullins’ “In A Paris Moment” photography exhibit which brings snow, circus artistry, and secrets of the streets to Galerie Maître Albert. American fine-art photographer and photojournalist Meredith Mullins, a resident of Paris for 15 years, is the featured artist in this solo exhibit at the Galerie Maître Albert, 6 rue Maître Albert, 75005. The new exhibit spreads wide wings, with three main themes in the fifty images presented—the rare Paris snows (in all their silent and fleeting beauty), the artistry of Paris circuses (graceful and gravity defying), and the street stories that are unfolding wherever you happen to look. Mullins’ work is in museum collections in the U.S. and France and has been featured in more than 50 solo and group exhibitions. She is the winner of several photographic awards, including the Grand Concours Photo sur Paris, PX3, The Worldwide Gala Awards, Center for Photographic Art, the Julia Margaret Cameron Award, and Photographer’s Forum. She is the author of the award-winning book In A Paris Moment, a leader of photo adventure tours, and the Co-Founder and Director of the International Fine Art Photography Competition of 2012 and 2013.
Two vernissages are scheduled November 9th and November 17th, each from 3 p.m. until 9 p.m. Gallery hours are Monday through Saturday from 10h00 to 18h00 or by appointment on Sundays. Don’t miss them!