Christmas on the Riviera
THE CRACKS KEPT COMING BACK
If you have followed my saga of the structural repair in my Paris apartment, then you know that I’m living among 20 poles to shore up the ceiling while battling with the homeowner association. The owners in the building voted to repair the beams, but voted against paying for my move out and then back in while they do the work—an estimated seven months!
I had no choice, but to file a lawsuit against them. I declared that if they don’t pay for the cost of my move to another apartment, then I wasn’t moving. If I don’t move, the work can’t take place. If the work doesn’t take place, then the building is compromised as is the value of our property and our ability to sell any of the units. So, in effect, I hold the key to the work getting done.
They recommended mediation to which I agreed. My lawyer and I met Wednesday morning with Notarial mediators, our Syndic (managing agent), the Syndic’s lawyer and one homeowner. The other homeowner was the same “gentleman” who, in the general assembly, suggested I go live with relatives while the work was taking place so that they wouldn’t have to fork out a penny! He continued to be just as mean, accusatory and unsympathetic during the mediation as he was during the assembly, and I wondered how he would react if the tables were turned and he were the victim, not me?
After three hours of give and take, we managed to agree on a few points and move it along. Still, we will have another round of mediation in February and then they still have to hold another assembly to get another vote. All this means taking more time, but at least the most important thing was settled—how much they were willing to pay for rent for another apartment, based on the city’s published scheduled rental rates…fair enough, so I agreed to that. This means that if I want to spend more, I can, but it’s not too far off from the reality of what I need for an equivalent apartment.
They also asked for the ability to get their own estimates for the other elements of the move, to which I wholeheartedly agreed. I hope they have fun! This is no easy task, and I’m sure they will find it challenging. Nonetheless, as long as I can still use the suppliers I want, and they will pay for whatever is the lowest estimate, that’s right as rain with me.
I want this to happen and to get it over with. It’s my worst nightmare, to move everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) out of my apartment of more than 26 years so that they can destroy it all, and then put it all back. While the work is being done, I will have an opportunity to install double-paned windows, redo the kitchen entirely, refinish the floors, etc., at my expense of course, not theirs, but well worth it! Naturally, I will be counting on Martine di Mattéo to make it shine!
Meanwhile, I already have my staff on the hunt for an apartment for me to move into—the sooner the better is my feeling! Stay tuned as the hunt gets in full swing!
CHRISTMAS ON THE RIVIERA
It was a toss-up. Should we spend Christmas in Paris and New Year’s in Nice or vice-versa? We opted for the vice-versa: Christmas in Nice and New Year’s in Paris. It was the opposite for some of our bi-city friends and therefore we were like passing ships in the night, but it didn’t matter. There’s plenty to do in both cities on both occasions and plenty of friends around to do things with.
All in all, it was a good idea to get out of the cold/gray/wet City of Light to see the blue skies and aqua blue sea of Nice. The sunsets were spectacular, evidenced by the photos friends and colleagues were taking and passing around. The light show in Nice is exceptionally fine this year as the Place Masséna is surrounded by Christmas Trees formed by strings of lights, punctuated by an enormous Ferris Wheel anchoring the annual Christmas Market.
The Christmas Market used to be open in the center of the Place where one could wander freely through it, but because of security issues, it’s now behind walls and gates and one must go through a security check to enter. I really detest how we have imprisoned ourselves because of fear of terrorist attacks and wonder if we will ever go back to being normal and just trusting ourselves to behave like human beings instead of angry animals who have no respect for life. Surely in today’s age of electronics and AI, we should be able to determine who might be a threat without the walls we put up for ourselves. Maybe I’m dreaming, but, this is a subject for another time.
The end of the year is always stressful because while we are looking forward to partying with family and friends, we’re also under the pressure of getting year-end business taken care of. It’s a double-edged sword because it’s a time when you prefer to have no stress at all, yet it’s all raining down on your head at the same time…unless of course, you are retired and footloose and fancy-free. I am not that person, and while I could retire financially, I can’t retire emotionally. Besides, my staff tells me they’d kill me if I did! Ha! (So, I guess it’s not a good idea!)
The tickets I had purchased to visit the Villa & Jardins Ephrussi de Rothschild over Thanksgiving weekend with my cousin, Leslie, who landed in the hospital with a broken leg, were not lost, even though normally the tickets are non-refundable. I have a motto: “Shan’t ask, shan’t receive.” So, that’s what I did—ask. I wrote the Villa and explained the predicament. They did not hesitate a moment to grant us permission to use the tickets this past weekend, and to add a cherry on top, I booked us for lunch in their beautiful Salon du Thé.
Situated in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild, originally named “Villa Île-de-France” by it’s mistress, Baroness Béatrice de Rothschild (1864–1934), stands as the French Riviera’s most captivating seaside residence. Crafted by the skilled French architect Aaron Messiah, the villa took shape between 1907 and 1912. Béatrice, a member of the prominent Rothschild banking family and the spouse of banker Baron Maurice de Ephrussi, chose the promontory on the isthmus of Cap Ferrat overlooking the Mediterranean as the setting for her rose-hued villa. Adorned with antique furniture, Old Master paintings, sculptures, objets d’art, and an extensive collection of rare porcelain curated by the Baroness, the mansion is a testament to refined taste. The lush gardens surrounding the villa have earned recognition as one of the Remarkable Gardens of France by the Ministry of Culture, while the villa itself received the esteemed classification of Monument Historique in 1996.
Béatrice has an interesting story herself, having married a many years her senior from whom she contracted syphilis rendering her quite ill for many months and ultimately childless. In a philanthropic gesture, upon her demise in 1934, the Baroness bequeathed both the estate and its remarkable collections to the Académie des Beaux-Arts division of the Institut de France. Today, the Villa opens its doors to such lookie-loos as us and we had the very good fortune of landing on a day when almost no one was there. To have the rooms and gardens all to ourselves to take photos was a serious treat. Even better was the wonderful waitstaff a the Salon du Thé who granted us the best table in the room overlooking the garden and sea.
I’ve visited the mansion many times before, but this time might have been my favorite.
KUNG PAO CHICKEN ON CHRISTMAS EVE
Even in Nice, Jews eat Chinese food on Christmas. Last night we dined on a large selection of Asian goodies with Jewish friends…because that’s what we do. Yes, it’s a pretty funny tradition. It all started in the Lower East Side of Manhattan where Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe and Chinese immigrants were two non-Christian immigrant groups living side by side in nearby neighborhoods. Couple that with the fact that the Chinese restaurants were the only dining option open on a holiday like Christmas…and there you have it…Jews pigging out on Chow Mein, Peking Duck and Spring Rolls, and even the likes of Sweet and Sour Pork (as long as you keep that secret)!
Katie Friedland and her family reserved for all of us at Restaurant Festin d’Asie on rue d’Angleterre (number 15) where we were the only non-Asians in the restaurant. That was a good sign of the restaurant being a good one…and boy was it ever! I suggested a system for ordering I’ve used many times in the past for such family-style serving that works really well, rather than everyone trying to agree to every dish suggested. The way it works is this: each person chooses what they want…at least one dish. When it comes, that person takes as much as they want and then passes it around the table for grabs. This way, you always get at least one thing you really want and get to try everything else. It always seems to work well, and so it did for us.
The dishes came out of the kitchen one at time, steaming hot, and got scarfed up without hesitation because one was better than the next!…Beef sautéed with onion, Kung Pao Chicken, Broccoli sautéed with garlic, Pork knuckle, Shrimp with broccoli…just to name a few. My favorite was the dish was of eggplants lightly breaded and deep fried. The quality of the food was outstanding! So, don’t wait for Christmas 2024 to try it!
15 rue d’Angleterre
+33 4 93 88 48 28
THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES
A special holiday thank you goes to…
—each and every one of you readers for being so loyal and staying to interested in what I have to say…
—all of our clients who have put their faith and trust in us to help them make the move to France…
—to all of our staff who are so much fun to work with and who do such a great job…
—and to all of our professional resources without whom we could not exist and who are so fantastic to work with…
Happy Holidays to All,
A la prochaine…
The Adrian Leeds Group®
Adrian with the server at the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild
P.S. We are already booking speakers for Après-Midi 2024 in both Paris and Nice. Take a look at our site for a preview and plan to attend as many as possible!