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Poetic Peonies and Other Flowery Words of Expression

Peonies for Sale on the Cours Saleya in Nice France
Peonies for sale on the Cours Saleya

The notice for my second vaccination appointment in Nice came by text message so I hopped a train in time for the rendez-vous the next day. This time around, the system at the Palais des Expositions in Nice (the city’s convention center) where the vaccinations are being administered, had been greatly improved since the visit for the first jab—I was in and out in about an hour, less than half the time.

The sweet young technician who administered the jab told me she was scheduled to do 400 to 500 inoculations that day. According to the official records, by Friday, April 9th, 10,544,541 (+381,542 on Friday) people received at least a first vaccine dose, or 15.70% of the French population. But in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region, even more at 18.00%. I was one of the 3,604,653 (+109,686 on Friday) people who had received a second dose which represents 5.40% of the population. But 6.30% in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region—so Nice and the region are outperforming the rest of the country.

I’ve heard from Parisian friends that it’s not as easy nor straightforward as it is in Nice to get vaccinated…but the truth is I didn’t even try in Paris since the system in the south was so simple. My only side effects from the second jab were a sore arm and a bit of sluggishness the first 24 hours.

The weather in Nice wasn’t predicted to be its usual sunny self with rain scheduled for the weekend and much of the following week. Friday afternoon was the calm before the storm with sunny rays and the calmest sea I’ve ever seen. The Mediterranean looked more like a lake than an ocean with not even the tiniest of waves breaking on the beach. The color was a deep, rich aqua blue. It never ceases to make me swoon.

A calm Mediterranean Sea in Nice, before the storm...

A calm Mediterranean Sea, before the storm

Sunday there was a mild break in the weather, long enough for a stroll down to the Cours Saleya with client/friend/singer John Garland Jones to buy flowers and fresh produce. Of all the flower stands, there is one that does all the business. There is always a long queue to this one, while all the others cater to the tourists who obviously don’t know any better…although it never ceases to puzzle me why this particular stand should attract so much attention. Still, this one stand does have a beautiful assortment of flowers, possibly about 50 different varieties, and their prices are fair. I chose the peonies, grown in the Var, of which they had a huge quantity, at five for €15. I was told the buds would open and grow large and last a long time (one week is all I need).

Photo of The long queue to buy flowers in Nice France

The long queue to buy flowers…

A flower stand at the open market in Nice France

The most popular flower stand on the Cours Saleya

There are several online events coming up not requiring you to be anywhere but home that you need to know about and should plan to put on your agenda for this coming week:


Tomorrow is our monthly coffee gathering, Après-Midi—now held on Zoom—with guest speaker, Heather Hartley.

Author Heather Hartley

Heather Hartley

Heather is the author of Adult Swim and Knock Knock, both from Carnegie Mellon University Press. She was the long-time editor at the late Tin House Magazine and her short fiction, poems, essays, and interviews have appeared in or on PBS Newshour, The Guardian, Slice, and other venues. She has presented writers at Shakespeare and Company Bookshop and has taught creative writing at the American University of Paris and the University of Texas El Paso MFA Online program. So you see, she comes with a long list of credentials. The point is to celebrate poetry as April is National Poetry Month celebrating its 25th year.

Photo of the covers for Knock Knock ad Adult Swim by Heather Hartley

I met Heather eons ago through Cecilia Woloch, who was the first poet to seduce me into the world of poetry. That was in the Fall of 1994 just after having moved to Paris. Before then, poetry was not at all on my radar. Defined as “Literature that evokes a concentrated imaginative awareness of experience or a specific emotional response through language chosen and arranged for its meaning, sound, and rhythm,” (Source) I can honestly say that I was seriously clueless until then. What I discovered through poets like Heather and Cecilia, is that it’s so much more than that. It can be incredibly moving and profound, as well as enlightening. If you heard Amanda Gorman read her poem, “The Hill We Climb” at the inauguration of President Joe Biden, then you have discovered poetry, too, even if you don’t know it.

But, don’t stop with Amanda Gorman. Join us with Heather Hartley tomorrow at 6 p.m. France time, 9 a.m. West Coast time and 12 noon East Coast time, to be seduced and enlightened like I was. I promise you will not be disappointed. Click here to register.


The producers of “Meeting Jim,” the award-winning, feature-length documentary about Jim Haynes, is now available to watch from anywhere in the world for an unlimited period of time.

Jim Haynes was always accessible to everyone, regardless of their origin, age, gender or background. The producers have been working hard for the past few weeks to make his film a reflection of that too. Click to watch the film online on Vimeo and use the code ADRIANLEEDSGROUP for a 20% discount on renting or buying the film, valid until Sunday, April 18th at 23:59 New York time.

Meme promoting the documentary Meeting Jim

We invite you to share this film with your community and with anyone whom you think would enjoy and feel inspired by meeting Jim Haynes. Their dream is to create a ripple effect where Jim’s love for life and people reaches all corners of the world.

“Some people say that when they are happy they sing and dance. But I say: when I sing and dance, I am happy!” Jim Haynes


Janet Hulstrand, author of Demystifying the French: How to Love Them, and Make Them Love You, will join the Federation of the Alliances Françaises USA via Zoom to tell the story of how a lifelong love of the French language inspired the journey that led from her home in Minnesota along a winding path that passed through Paris, New York City, Washington DC, and led eventually to Essoyes—a beautiful little village in southern Champagne that was the beloved summer home of the Renoir family.

Author Janet Hulstrand with her book Demysifying the French: How to Love Them, and Make Them Love You

Mark your calendar for Saturday, April 17th, 2021, 10 a.m. Pacific/11 a.m. Mountain/12 noon Central/1 p.m. Eastern (and 7 p.m. France time), when she will read from her most recent book, Demystifying the French, and take questions from the audience.

Aimed at first-time visitors to France as well as expatriates, Demystifying the French is designed to help readers avoid common mistakes and get off on the right foot with the French. Five easy-to-follow essential tips “for even brief encounters” are followed by 10 chapters that go into a deeper explanation of French habits, manners, and ways of viewing the world. The tips are brought to life by anecdotes from the author’s own path along the learning curve that leads to true understanding and appreciation of French ways. Reflections contributed by David Downie, Adrian Leeds, Harriet Welty Rochefort, and other well-known commentators on Franco-American cultural differences provide additional perspective and depth.

Hulstrand writes frequently for Bonjour Paris, France Today, France Revisited, and her blog, Writing from the Heart Reading for the Road. Her work has been published in the Christian Science Monitor and Smithsonian. Since 1997 she has taught “Paris: A Literary Adventure” for the education abroad programs at Hunter and Queens Colleges of the City University of New York. She also teaches literature and culture classes at Politics and Prose bookstore in Washington D.C., and has led book groups at the American Library in Paris. She is currently working on her next book, “A Long Way from Iowa,” a memoir.

This event will be on Zoom and is free for all Alliance Française members, AATF members, and invited guests of the presenter or publicist…namely me! Non-members or persons who have no AF chapter nearby can purchase tickets ($10). Click here to register, and please note that Adrian Leeds sent you!

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds with John Garland Jones on the Promenade des Anglais, Nice FranceAdrian Leeds
The Adrian Leeds Group®

Adrian with John Garland Jones on the Promenade des Anglais, Nice

P.S. Not only do we have our Adrian Leeds Group website, you can also like and follow us on our two Facebook pages: Adrian Leeds Group and Adrian Leeds On House Hunters International. If you haven’t done so already, LIKE and FOLLOW us today! 


1 Comment

  1. Heather on April 12, 2021 at 8:42 pm

    Congrats on your 2nd shot!! Woo hoo!! Can’t wait to come and visit Nice for the first time!

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