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Finding Purpose in France…Along the French Riviera

Looking up the hill toward the village of Peillon

Patty Sadauskas says that I become a different person when I’m in Nice. Who knows if that is good or bad, but you can bet she’s right because everything becomes more relaxed the moment I step off the train and into the warm sunlight and colors of the Riviera. Immediately, life changes for the better and all is right with the world.

During my daily consultations with clients who (almost always) question where they would want to live or buy property in France, and who have decided to take a tour of the country to answer that question, I likely get a bit heavy-handed on why they need to visit this region before making their final decision.

One couple this past week had set their sights on Bordeaux before having explored Lyon, Provence or the Côte d’Azur, which I insisted they do before settling on what I think may be a less than perfect choice. Bordeaux can be a wonderful city in which to live, but it’s limiting in many ways, which is not necessary if one chooses the east side of France vs the west side.

Another couple had a plan to travel to both the east and west sides of the country within two weeks, meaning that they would spend all their time traveling and experiencing nothing—or very little—trying to take in too much too fast. I urged them to eliminate the west and concentrate on the east, where they had excellent access and transportation to more of the country, more of Europe and a lot better weather—as well as a more fulfilled and luxurious lifestyle. Part of my reasoning has to do with the kinds of international communities one can find in the east, compared to the west, where non-French speakers will feel more comfortable and where friends can be made more easily.

We hear the praises from clients we have who have made the move to Nice over and over again and witness the eventual changes some make after they’ve either ignored our advice or never asked for it. Of course, everyone is different and has different goals or different dreams, but there is a reality to their dreams that must be considered.

Nice really is the ideal place to live in France…if you want to be free of living in a bubble (the necessity of a car to transport you anywhere), having access to everything not only in Nice and along the Riviera, but to all points in Europe and beyond by virtue of its international airport and TGV hub. It’s also the largest expat community outside of Paris, with more to do than one can imagine, not to mention the beautiful weather and casual lifestyle. I simply can’t say enough wonderful things about the city, especially as I watch the improvements to the city taking place all over town making it even more pleasant and livable.

If you wish to refresh yourself with some of my strategic thinking about how to look beyond what I call “the Peter Mayle Syndrome” (that rose-colored glasses view of life in the French countryside), you can watch our webinar on Youtube titled “How to Decide Where to Live in France,” sponsored by the Federation of the Alliances Françaises USA. It may help you make your own decision.


Thursday was the second time we held Après-Midi in Nice, this time with author and coach, Lisa Anselmo, who came down from Paris for this and to enjoy some fun in the sun. In her talk, “Finding Purpose in France,” Lisa shared her story, and talked about how disrupting your life (whether intentional or not) can set you on a path toward self-discovery, reinvention, and renewed purpose as it did for her!

Adrian Leeds with Lisa Anselmo at Après-Midi in Nice

The facility at La Brasserie Félix Faure is ideal because it has a built-in screen and projector for such presentations, but we had a bit of a challenge with technical difficulties. Our attendee, Jacques Francoeur, tried to keep those in check during her presentation. He did an excellent job and you will see him in the background throughout the recording of the session.

Our attendance for this second event was just as good as our first, filling the room with (mostly) our clients and friends as well as some newcomers who were a pleasure to meet. Undoubtedly, many friendships were made as we got set up for Lisa’s talk.

The room and attendees at Après-Midi in Nice

Even if you couldn’t be there, you don’t have to miss the session! Be sure to watch the video. To see photos from the event and the full report, be sure to visit our website.


After Après-Midi, the Adrian Leeds Group Nice team and Lisa Anselmo joined up at Gina’s—the newest and most elegant café directly on Place Masséna at Number 1—in order to celebrate Ella Dyer’s birthday (the next day), take advantage of the beautiful weather and reflect on the state of our affairs. The café is a bit pricey, but well worth the extra euros. It is a welcome and remarkable brasserie in the heart of the magnificent surroundings of Place Masséna. Everyone should at least have a café or glass of wine there once!

Jennifer Parrette and Ella Dyer at Gina's, Place Massén

Jennifer Parrette and Ella Dyer at Gina’s

Lisa Anselmo and Patty Sadauskas as Gina's

Lisa Anselmo and Patty Sadauskas as Gina’s


A small group of us hopped the #15 bus on Saturday morning in order to lunch at Léo Léa at the Port de Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat. It’s as easy as it gets. You can pick up the bus at Place Garibaldi under the overpass of the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Nice (MAMAC) and take it all the way to the end at the port. Our new Fractional Ownership property, “La Villa Plaisance,” is located in a house just one stop before the end.

The #15 Bus from Nice to Port de Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat

The ride takes about 40 minutes. If you can score a seat on the left side as you board the bus (on the right once inside), you will have the “million dollar view” of the Old Port of Nice, Villefranche-sur-Mer and Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat that will have you swooning. Each time any of us take the ride, someone always says, “It never gets old, does it?”

View of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat

View of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat

Pano view of Port de Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat

Léo Léa is one of our favorites, but there are many cafés and restaurants from which to choose that overlook the beautiful and famous port. One of the women in our group lives in Cap-Ferrat and had no fear leaving her belongings on her chair or her bike unlocked along the quay. She said that the crime rate in Cap-Ferrat was virtually nil.

Léo Léa

With a little digging, I found an interesting article on According to the article, the crimes or misdemeanors recorded by the police and gendarmerie forces in the town of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat last year were: voluntary destruction and damage—20 offenses; robbery with weapons—0 offenses; thefts without violence against people—37 victims. Of course, one must compare the figures to the total number of inhabitants for the Alpes-Maritimes department and the number of inhabitants of Saint-Jean-Cap- Ferrat, which represents 0.14% of the population of the department! The point is that it’s one of the safest spots on the Riviera to be.

After our lunch, we took a tour of La Villa Plaisance to see what changes have already been made in preparation for a redecoration that will take place in the fall. One feature of special note is the stained-glass window installed in the bathroom that brightens the whole room and ultimately the entire apartment as the light shines through the warm colors of the glass. It’s almost blinding!

The new stained-glass window at La Villa Plaisance

The new stained-glass window at La Villa Plaisance

The apartment is a two-bedroom/one-bathroom spacious and bright well-located haven with beautiful views from all the rooms and from its sweet terrace that extends the living room space. We will announce the shares for sale within the next month or so, with usage beginning in January 2023. If you are interested in having a share in such a special spot, be sure to email us. We will then put you on a special mailing list to be informed of the sale before it’s made available on the open market. You’ll have first crack at the best shares and best prices!


Our day ended at the tippy top of the perched 12th-century village of Peillon, sitting at dinner with friends on the terrace of L’Auberge de La Madone, overlooking the valleys below and dining on exceptional cuisine. There are seven hairpin turns in order to reach the top, where the parking for the village and the famous auberge sit, before you climb onto the narrow streets. It’s an experience worth every gasp as you turn on the narrow roads, praying that no one is coming in the opposite direction! As you climb to the top, you can see the perched village at various points along the road like a beacon of a past that still shines in all its glory.

Curvy, winding streets to Peillon

The perched village of Peillon

My relationship with this town is worth a book of stories. My daughter and I discovered it many years ago on one of our driving adventures in the south of France. Upon entering the village, a woman sitting on the fountain at the base of the first stairway going up into the village called me by name in English. She recognized me as someone she met a year or so earlier via a mutual friend. She was living in the village in the very first house as you entered.

Erica Simone in Peillon years earlier

Erica Simone in Peillon years earlier

“Would you like to see it?,” she asked. Naturally we did not refuse such an invitation. The stone house was many centuries old, beautifully restored and decorated, and was clearly an abode of special character. We walked through in total awe and took a slew of photos. Later we learned that she, her partner and I had many friends and experiences in common, including the house’s original owner whom I had only recently met. The more we dug, the deeper we got and discovered very interwoven connections that would likely stand the test of time. I have always felt that this kind of synchronicity (acausal meaningful coincidences) lights our paths to our futures, and it did, as the original owner has since become one of my trusted business partners.

In honor of this web of good relations, we decided to meet in Peillon at the auberge for one of their exceptional meals. The auberge dates back to 1946, post-war, continually run by the same family. When Erica and I had our first meal there many years earlier, we ordered a simple salad of tomatoes and basil, only to find it the best tomato salad we’d ever eaten in our lives and took photos to remember it forever. And we do. As you see, I still talk about it to this day.

Salade de Tomates at L'Auberge de la Madone

Salade de Tomates at L’Auberge de la Madone

Saturday night we all enjoyed a special “entrée” (appetizer) made of a stuffed “fleur de courgette” (zucchini flower) stuffed with meat and truffles, not noted on their menu, but made special for the evening. It could not have been more perfect.

Fleur de Courgette at L'Auberge de la Madone, Peillon

Fleur de Courgette at L’Auberge de la Madone


This news could not make me happier…

Belgium has announced that it will no longer share the data of “accidental Americans” with US tax authorities, following a declaration by the country’s Data Protection Authority (DPA) that such information transfers are illegal.

The regulations imposed by FATCA have been the bane of our expats’ existence ever since its inception in 2010. The sharing of this data requires foreign banks to provide information about accounts held by American citizens to their respective governments, who then share it with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

The unintended consequence of this legislation was that it also affected “accidental Americans”–individuals who possess US citizenship by birthright but live abroad and have limited ties to the US. These individuals, as well as we non-accidental Americans argue that we are unfairly caught up in a disclosure process that we have little connection to, resulting in difficulties accessing banking services and bureaucratic obstacles in our home countries. Just try getting a bank account or a loan and see how difficult this is to achieve as a result!

The Belgian DPA conducted an investigation prompted by a complaint filed in 2020 by a group of accidental Americans and a dual Belgian-American citizen. They found that the sharing of this information violated the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Although Article 96 of the GDPR allows existing international agreements to stand if they complied with the law when established, both the data authority and the Belgian Litigation Chamber concluded that the US-Belgium FATCA agreement’s indiscriminate transfer of tax data failed to meet the requirements of precise objectives for data transfers and the processing of only “strictly” necessary data for the intended purposes.

Hielke Hijmans, Chairman of the Litigation Chamber, stated that Article 96 cannot permit international agreements to continue to contravene the GDPR over time, and EU member states must renegotiate agreements to ensure compliance. Furthermore, the Litigation Chamber found that FATCA lacks appropriate safeguards to ensure that exported personal data receives a level of protection comparable to that within the EU.

While ceasing the data flows to the US under the FATCA agreement may appear severe, Hijmans emphasized that it is necessary when non-compliance with applicable laws is identified. The decision is subject to appeal, and the US Treasury and IRS have not yet provided official comments on the matter. (Of course not!)

This ruling is significant as it marks the first time that the legality of the FATCA agreement has been officially challenged. Similar lawsuits are currently underway in other countries. The Association of Accidental Americans, which contributed to the Belgian complaint, has other ongoing legal cases in Europe. They are also awaiting a decision from the European Commission regarding France’s sharing of FATCA data. Hooray! (Can you hear me cheering in the background?)

While the ruling from the Belgian DPA is a significant development, it does not absolve US citizens abroad from our US tax obligations. The article warns that not providing information through FATCA reporting does not mean individuals can evade US tax laws, as the IRS may discover information through alternative means.


A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds with Lisa Anselmo in NiceAdrian Leeds
The Adrian Leeds Group®

Adrian with Lisa Anselmo in Nice

P.S. Fractional ownership is a perfect way of combining lifestyle with investments! To learn more, visit our site and see all of our fractional ownership properties on the market today!



  1. Carol Ann Peeler on May 29, 2023 at 5:40 pm

    Hi Adrian! As a French teacher for 30 years, I brought students and adults to France even after retirement. I was just in Nice (my favorite city) last September. Maybe you can advise me a little about the bus system. For years, we were able to catch the bus from the center of Nice. How can one get information on which bus and where to take the bus to certain locations now? I have been to the new bus station at the end of the tram stop, but I want to know how to manage from the center of town? Any information would be greatly appreciated. I enjoy watching you on HGTV and receiving your emails! Merci!

    Amicalement, Carol

    • Adrian Leeds Group on July 11, 2023 at 3:22 am

      Thank so much! You can find bus information on the Lines D’Azur app, or even on Google maps.

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