Adrian Leeds Nouvellettre®
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I Might Be Cursed…But I’m Lucky!

Blue and white lounge chairs and umbrellas on a beach in Nice, France

The comments to last Wednesday’s Nouvellettre®, “Let’s Talk Politics,” were overwhelming. Out of dozens of responses, two did exactly what I predicted: “write to complain that my opinion has no place in my own missives and that it will hurt my business!” Guess they didn’t actually read what I wrote!

But, thanks to all of you who commented positively, giving me the encouragement to continue to speak my mind. I don’t expect you all to agree with me when I voice an opinion, but please refrain from telling me I don’t have to right to it! Or that you don’t want to hear it. You have the right to delete it, ignore it or unsubscribe!


Zerina Serulle, one of our Property Search Consultants, and I paid a visit to Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat to meet with the owner of the property we have for sale there. It was her first time in the Riviera enclave that is the world’s most exclusive destination.

One thing we’ve learned is that Americans aren’t familiar with Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat and we don’t know why. At one time it was a tiny fishing village perched on a dry, dusty outcrop of the Cap-Ferrat peninsula that would become the playground of the world’s richest and most powerful people.

Aerial view of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat

When Napoleon III claimed victory at the end of the Franco-Austrian War of 1859, the region of Nice was ceded to France, which quickly began investing in the area. The newly-formed Compagnie Générale des Eaux created a 20,000m³ artificial lake, fed by the Vésubie, complete with an islet and a waterfall. This lake transformed the peninsula’s ecology forever. The once barren rock soon flourished with Aleppo pine woods, olive groves, and subtropical gardens. Thus, the secluded hamlet of Saint-Jean grew, becoming a municipality in its own right in 1904. After a period as Saint-Jean-sur-Mer, the resort adopted its rightful name in 1907, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat.

The port in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat

The port in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat

As the Côte d’Azur became the destination of choice for the world’s elite, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat established itself as a legendary locale for those who could afford it, attracting everyone from the notorious King Leopold II of Belgium, to artists like Picasso and Matisse, and heads of state such as Winston Churchill, Charles De Gaulle, and Bill Clinton. Add to that list such luminaries as Baroness de Rothschild, Charlie Chaplin, Rainier III, David Niven, Somerset Maugham, Jean Cocteau, Lady Kenmare and Roderick Cameron, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, Pierre and São Schlumberger, Hubert de Givenchy, Rachel Lambert Mellon, Mary Wells Lawrence, Isadora Duncan, Winston Churchill, and French prime ministers Maurice Rouvier and Raymond Barre. I’m exhausted just writing/reading the list!

As we were dining at a port-side restaurant, a small boat launched with a pianist and a singer who performed their tunes from the water. Connected to speakers on the docks, everyone dining could hear them clearly as they motored around the port. It was so sweet.

Singer and pianist on the water at the port in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat

Zerina, new to the Riviera, but now a property-owner herself, remarked that when she’s in Nice, even if still working, she feels like she’s on vacation. She hit the nail on the head. I feel the same way—even though I’m working as many hours, it’s a lot less stressful. There is something so calming about being in this Mediterranean environment.

As I write this part of the Nouvellettre®, I am perched on a comfy armchair under huge parasols at one of the beach-side restaurants looking at the blue-blue sea and a line-up of sunbathers. One gentleman sitting next to me remarked that watching me work on my computer made him feel guilty for doing nothing. I, in turn, responded how fabulous it is that I can come here with my laptop and have this magnificent view, while still getting a lot accomplished. Sure, I was a bit jealous of those lying on the “transats” (deckchairs) enjoying the sun and surf, mostly because the water was calm and looked so inviting. I knew I’d be there on Saturday, by hook or crook.

On the beach in Nice


The U.S. Independence Day, July 4th, was just not in the same spirit as usual considering the conditions of the current U.S. politics. There didn’t seem like much to celebrate. I watched about 15 minutes of the Trump-Biden debate it was too painful to continue.

Nonetheless, American friends hosted a soirée on their rooftop terrace in Mont Boron on what couldn’t have been a more perfect evening. The “invitées” were a mixed bag of expatriates and French living in the vicinity. The hosts have been enjoying their life in Nice for about two years and loving their “eyrie” perched high above the city. The “pièce de résistance” was the cake they had made to look like an American flag—but as you can see by the photo, I was a bit too late in getting a good shot before they started cutting the pieces and handing them out.

Adrian Leeds' friend's rooftop terrace in Nice

View from Adrian Leeds' friend's rooftop terrace in Nice

View from the rooftop terrace

The partially eaten American flag cake for dessert


June 20th, the Hôtel du Couvent opened its doors in the heart of Vieux Nice…although I’d call it the “edge” as it’s wedged up against the Colline du Château up the hill from Place Rossetti. It’s not so easy to get to.

Nonetheless, after years of waiting, marked by legal challenges and the pandemic, the media claims that this five-star establishment represents a major turning point for Nice’s hotel landscape: “offering luxury and refinement, it breathes new life into a precious historic site.”

Located in the former convent of the Visitation Sainte-Claire, built in 1604 (the same year at the Place des Vosges in Paris) the refurbishment project was led by a British specialist in luxury hotels. It has 88 rooms spread across the Grande Cour des Orangers and the main building. The hotel also offers three restaurants, two outdoor swimming pools, Roman baths, a gym, a library, a wine cellar, a bakery and an herbalist.

The courtyard at the Hôtel du Couvent in Nice

The courtyard at the Hôtel du Couvent

In addition to its obvious luxury, the Hôtel du Couvent is intended to be an open space for locals and visitors alike with a library that welcomes lovers of local history, while a market of local produce is set up in the Place des Orangers every Saturday morning.

A friend and I had the chance to reserve seats at the bar Friday evening just in time for a special two-day mini-fest to celebrate London Contemporary Music Festival’s 10th anniversary and the resurrection of this 17th-century convent.

As we entered the beautiful courtyard of calm and serenity, we could see the seats for the concert were set up in an arc to feature the performers.
Further on were seats and tables as part of the bar and then at the back of the courtyard were the dining tables set with cloths. Our intention was to “dine” at the bar on the “snacks” they offer for possible sharing while relaxing with drinks.

Concert setup at the Hôtel du Couvent in Nice

Concert setup at the Hôtel du Couvent

The menu was limited, but interesting enough to satisfy our special diets, and not inexpensive, which we expected. The food was excellent, the service a bit disjointed (as one might expect from a new establishment), but very pleasant. The waitresses wore smoky dark red dresses that seemed fitting for a convent, but not particularly attractive. The waiters were in black. With the four small dishes we ordered, the two of us filled our bellies well, and spent more than 50€ a person with only sparkling water and coffee. As I said, not cheap, but delicious and the atmosphere delightful.

We were steps away from the concert and able to hear the music from our seats—but I wouldn’t call it “music.” We couldn’t see the performers, but believe they were all women. One was the well-known 83-year-old percussionist, Limpe Fuchs, who played homemade instruments, made of bronze, granite and wood. I can’t be sure who, but one of the performers made monkey-type screeching sounds that sent me reeling. There were tympanic sounds that sent shivers down my spine, too. No, I wouldn’t call it “music.”

Percussionist, Limpe Fuchs performing at the Hôtel du Couvent in Nice

Percussionist, Limpe Fuchs performing at the Hôtel du Couvent

As we were sitting there “enjoying” the scene (the visuals more than the audials), we realized how the hotel is so Un-Niçois-Like. Guests are enclosed in the convent, and while it’s beautiful, you would feel totally secluded, with no views of the sea or surroundings. If I wanted a luxury stay on the French Riviera, this wouldn’t be it. I’d want to have immediate access to the sea, and this does not.

By strange coincidence, my friend and I were sitting there together reading a recent article in the Wall Street Journal on my iPhone, written by Alexander Lobrano titled “Nice Is Quietly Becoming the Coolest Destination on the French Riviera.” Alec is our special guest speaker at an upcoming Après-Midi in Paris on September 10th. In the article, he mentions Rosa Jackson, a Canadian food writer and cook, who’s lived in Nice for more than 20 years. She was a recent speaker at Après-Midi in Nice.

Believe it or not, as I was waiting for a free stall in the ladies’ room before leaving for the evening, Rosa came out! It was a crazy place to cross paths, so we had a good laugh about that, the fact that we had just been discussing her and that she had a similar reaction to the “music.” Small world.

Now we can say we’ve “been there; done that” and doubt the Convent will see me again…unless there’s a special event well worth the uphill trek.


Last week when I arrived at my Niçois apartment, “all hell broke loose when I got home and pulled back the sheets to get into bed. The sheets that touched the back wall were wet. The wall was wet and had bubbled up. Ugh. Here it goes again…problems that add to an already overloaded plate. The signs of a leak of some sort were obvious, but this was the wall adjacent to the next building with no plumbing…except a mini-split AC unit overhead.”

That got resolved, after three people came to remedy it—my “Syndic” (building manager) who lives above me, one of our contractors and my AC specialist. The AC specialist verified that everything was working well now and the leak had stopped, surmising that it may have gotten blocked, hence the extra condensation, but now is running fine. He checked all the pipes, made some corrections and suggestions on ways to secure it better and then went on his merry way leaving me with peace of mind.

Yesterday was my last day in Nice before moving into my new apartment in Paris today. My plan was to either head down to the Cours Saleya as always and/or head for the beach before getting on the train back to Paris late afternoon. I woke up early, made coffee and started the usual chores to ready the apartment for my departure—meaning washing the sheets and towels, cleaning the bathroom, etc. When I opened the utility closet to get out the mop, I heard water dripping and everything was wet.

The water was running pretty quickly, dripping from the huge hot water tank I have in the closet (200 liters). As quickly as possible, I got a bucket under it, moved everything out onto the floor, making a big mess, then started sending text messages to everyone I could think of who might be able to solve my problem. It was not even 8 a.m. yet on a Sunday morning.

A bucket under the leaking hot water heater in Adrian Leeds' apartment in Nice

My Syndic was there in a jiffy, found the water main and we got it to stop dripping. Thank goodness. And thank goodness, the water damage was minimal at this stage. It must not have started much before I found it—at least that was lucky. Then, my contacts found two emergency plumbers who could come. Whichever got here first won the prize.

One showed up pretty quickly and was able to manage the situation by cutting off the water tank from the other water running in the apartment and arranging to come replace the tank while I will be gone. All this is also going to cost plenty of money, but at least there was very minimal damage and that’s the most important thing.

When I texted my daughter about what was going on in the apartment, she wrote: “We should get you a session with a psychic or two and just see what comes up!”

It couldn’t hurt. Someone is trying to tell me something, and one thing for sure, it was very lucky to have happened while I was there and that there was a lot of back-up to fix it all.


News article on the 2nd round of elections in France

By the time you read this, the second round of France’s snap elections will have concluded and we’ll have the results. Stay tuned!

A la prochaine…

Adrian LeedsAdrian Leeds
The Adrian Leeds Group®

Patricia BrooksP.S. Last Wednesday, Patricia Brooks, the Courage Catalyst, enlightened us with how she overcame the fears and helps others to do the same in order to get the courage to move to France. Patty Sadauskas and I joined Patricia in a discussion with a Q and A from the audience in this one-hour Webinar. You can watch it now by tuning into our YouTube Channel. Enjoy!




Promotion for the Red WheelbarrowP.P.S. From Janet Hulstrand’s Writing from the Heart, Reading for the Road

“Penelope Fletcher is this wonderful, heroic, quintessential indie bookseller who started her bookstore—the Red Wheelbarrow—in Paris, on the Right Bank, in 2001. This was a much beloved bookstore among all serious readers and writers of books in the English language in Paris. Then, for a variety of reasons, Penelope was obliged to close the shop, and return to Canada for a few years. Everyone missed her, and the Red Wheelbarrow. But, she came back in 2018 and reopened her store, this time on the Left Bank, right across the street from the beautiful Luxembourg Gardens. This made everyone so happy again!”

Be sure to read the rest of Janet’s story, and be sure to make a donation if you care about the health of English literary Paris, as I did.

Here’s the direct link to make your donation!



  1. Stephanie on July 8, 2024 at 8:53 am

    We love reading about your thoughts and views. We will be back in Nice for a month in March and can’t wait to return.

  2. Susan Stafford on July 8, 2024 at 9:09 am

    I always enjoy reading your thoughts and observations. I appreciate your forthrightness and honesty, no matter what topic. I totally sympathize with your ongoing household issues, having spent most of the summer tackling one disaster after the other. You maintain your sense of humor and perspective despite it all,
    which is admirable. Good luck with the new apartment in Paris.

  3. Barbara Crooker on July 8, 2024 at 11:46 am

    I’ve just moved from a house I had for 45 years into a small apartment–you have ALL my sympathy on the difficulties going with your big move! Good luck!

  4. Berkeley Fuller-Lewis on July 8, 2024 at 12:19 pm

    Cher Adrian —
    We ADORE your newsletter. Those few cranks who wrote in to winge (kvetch) about your very restrained “political” comments, are the same entitled / “head in the sand” people who stood idly by while Nazi Germany happened. They want everything to be “nice” and “believe” that ignoring “clear and present dangers” isn’t “nice.” Whereas, YOUR passion for life, art, France are luscious and correct — and — passion includes standing up for truth. Bravo.

  5. Charles St.Clair on July 8, 2024 at 6:55 pm

    Adrian, we were quite relieved by the outcome of the French election on Sunday, even though it seems like the next few months will be interesting as Macron tries to form a government. At least he won’t have that nut-case Bardella as Prime Minister. Thank you for your commentary on French politics. It is quite helpful to get an on-the-ground view of things there. There will always be people who disagree with your viewpoint, no matter what side of an issue you are on. That’s just human nature. We enjoy your thoughts and opinions.

  6. Beverly Bass on July 8, 2024 at 7:23 pm

    Keep giving us your unvarnished views and opinions! It why we come to you!

  7. Jeanine Budach on July 9, 2024 at 10:11 am

    Dear Adrian,

    Thank you for your thoughtful and most interesting newsletters. And, timely, as well.
    It is curious that you acknowledged the U.S. July 4 holiday, in spite of…
    I am still in the U.S. and your sentiments were mine exactly. I wonder, WHAT are we celebrating?
    In the meantime, I am hoping to book a consult with you, hopefully, after the Olympics, as I am seriously thinking of moving to France.
    Best of luck with your move, and let’s hope that the water leaks are finished.
    Best regards,

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