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“Bah L’Humbug?” — “Another annus horribilis?” — Or Let’s Be Footloose and Fancy Free on the Riviera!

 Photo of GERARD DEPARDIEU courtesy http://www.leftfutures.orgGERARD DEPARDIEU – photo courtesy leftfutures.orgHenri-le-Cactus in Le MatisseHenri le Cactus, growingAdrian's kalanchoes on the balcony of Le MatisseAdrian’s kalanchoes on the balcony of Le MatisseThe Promenade-de-Paillon in Nice, FranceThe Promenade-de-Paillon in NiceThe Promenade-de-Paillon at dusk in Nice, FranceThe Promenade-de-Paillon at duskCours Saleya Flower Market Nice, FranceCours Saleya Flower MarketFrom Eze, view of St-Jean Cap FerratFrom Eze, view of St-Jean Cap Ferrat

If you want to hold onto 2013, hold tight because there is barely a day or so left of the year. For some people I think 2013 will rank way up their as one of their best and others one of their worst. It’s not that I’m superstitious about the number 13, but I’ve heard many different stories and no one seems to have passed off the year as mediocre or uneventful. One thing for sure, it may be more memorable than most, if nothing else. Personally it’s been a roller coaster ride of highs and lows and all in all, I’m happy to say so-long to the number 13.

One of the year’s biggest topics of conversations France-side is politics. “Monsieur Normal” — French President François Hollande — has made an awful lot of folks unhappy with his decisions, to the point of achieving the lowest approval rating of any French president in the history of France — 15%. Talk about him, his tax increases, the gaining strength of the far right, the loss of our youth and our wealthy is and has been on everyone’s lips.

This, unfortunately, is not likely to leave us with the advent of the new year — as we have just gotten news from the press agencies yesterday that his 75% tax on earners of over one million euros has finally been declared constitutional, after a restructuring of the proposal. Now, a 50% tax will be paid by the employer so it doesn’t reduce the employee’s earnings. Headlines in some news publications are saying that the tax increase will likely “lead to a mass exodus of celebrities and businesses” and another called it “Bah L’Humbug” — “Francois Hollande’s Christmas present to the French people.”

Once again, he hasn’t thought through the ramifications of his actions. Can he become even more unpopular? I’m all in favor of finding a way to oust him before the elections in April and May of 2017. If you want to read more about what we may have in store for us, James Shields of CNN, paints a poignant picture in his December 24th article, “France in 2014: Another annus horribilis for Hollande?

It’s not my intention to dwell on the negative, particularly since landing in Nice on Saturday where one can be footloose and fancy free. The Air France flight from Orly to Nice and the #98 bus ride to “Le Matisse” was “du gâteau?” (“piece of cake”), to find “Henri-le-Cactus” a foot taller than my last visit. He is clearly happy in his spot in the corner in front of the window, even with the most minimal of care. Even the newly planted Kalanchoes are happy as clams and flowering like crazy. All the color puts a smile on our faces, in spite of whatever other woes might exist.

It rained all day Saturday, but left us with three consecutive days of predicted blue skies and sunshine. Yesterday I broke out the sunglasses, after a long uninterrupted stay at the bottom of my purse, to shield a very bright winter glare shining on Place Masséna and the new Promenade de Paillon. The promenade is not just a renovation of a garden — it’s a destination. All of Nice is taking advantage of its serenity and beauty by strolling along the paths, downing raw oysters at the oyster bar on the west end, allowing their kids to play on the giant sculptures and walking among the 128 jets that rise and fall along the 3,000 square meters of the “Miroir d’Eau.” It is seriously rivaling the waterfront for attention!

As is tradition, Sunday morning we breakfasted near the edge of the flower market on the Cours Saleya, wandered among the stalls to take in the scents of the flowers, the array of Provençal soaps, beautiful fresh produce, mounds of spices and regional delicacies then headed to our friends’ apartment on the Old Port to witness its total renovation. Once the work is complete, it will become their new permanent home in Nice, after living eight years in Paris — here where they will be healthier (thanks to lower pollution levels) and likely more relaxed. They are coming to enjoy Nice and environs for it different advantages to a Paris lifestyle.

Just steps away from their apartment we were able to hop the #100 bus for a 30-minute ride to visit another set of Paris friends whose vacation villa in Eze-sur-Mer offers a large patio overlooking the sea and a view of Saint-Jean Cap Ferrat. It’s idyllic, to say the least and screams of “Riviera Living”…the kind we all might imagine should be in our future, if not in our present. Let’s face it, when you hit the ripe old age of 60+, when thoughts of retirement become little streams of light above our heads, we wonder where we might want to spend the rest of our days. No, not in some old age home in a spot near the kids…nope, not for me. Please give me the sun, the surf and the swaying palms…and woes of politics will drift away with the tide.

Tomorrow we will set the stage for a party Chez Le Matisse of a small group of Côte d’Azur cronies we have come to know and love. The bubbly corks will pop and the platters of finger food will be passed around as we welcome in the new year. I suspect my rue Masséna, that I affectionately call “the parade route,” will be one of the liveliest spots in town and from the balcony we’ll have a view on a raucous scene below.

I can hardly wait. Until then, until Parler Nice issued on January 1st, 2014, have a happy and healthy new year.

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds & Erica Simone 20 years apartAdrian Leeds
Director of The Adrian Leeds Group, LLC

Respond to Adrian

(with daughter, Erica, 20 years earlier and now…)

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French Property Insider newsletterP.S. If owning property in Paris, Nice or anywhere in France is on your list of resolutions for 2014 you’ll want to subscribe to French Property Insider. This weekly e-zine gives you insights, recommendations and tips about buying and investing in property in France. You’ll receive 50 information-packed issues a year, plus you’ll have access to all past issues, archived articles, special reports and the latest Paris property price information. Subscribe now!

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