Côte d’Azur Coincidence
Last summer, my daughter and I rented a car in Nice to take three days of excursions to the perched hill towns above the seaside city. There are many of Frances most “beaux villages” to explore within one hour of Nice. We had such a wonderful adventure that we decided to do a “repeat performance,” but to also visit some new and different spots in the region.
Our favorite day last year was when we ended up at the last minute deciding to trek up to the village of Peillon, about 30 minutes outside of Nice. Peillon is seriously perched, fortified, medieval and incredibly picturesque. I’d never heard of it before and had certainly never been there, not knowing what to expect. With me driving a manual shift car, we climbed a very narrow road made up of a series of hair-pin turns that would make any driver sit upright and nervous in their seat, as it did me. Then, I had the surprise of the year when upon entering the tiny Medieval village, a woman, sitting on a stone stoop near a fountain just at a stairway that ascends into the village, called out to me in American English and asked, “Are you Adrian Leeds?”
(I urge you to stop now and read last year’s “Kismet Encounter in a Beau Village” before you continue further in today’s Nouvellettre®. You won’t regret it.)
Ok, since you took the time to read last year’s Parler Nice, then you know that she was someone I had met once through an American friend living in Nice. After a few OMGs in awe of the coincidence, Terry, the woman on the stoop said, “I live here in Peillon part of the year. Would you like to see our house?” And of course, we took the full tour of the sprawling centuries-old house near the entrance to the village.
That was a year ago almost to the day. As a result, we’ve become friendly with our Peillon hosts, Terry and Charlie. Our mutual friend wasn’t the only coincidence we discovered. It turns out that Charlie and I met eons ago in September of 2004 when he attended one of my Living and Investing in France conferences—in Washington, DC to be exact. The two-degrees-of-separation was getting almost stupid. So, when Erica and I discussed our three-day excursion, Peillon and a lunch at the Auberge de la Madone with Terry and Charlie, was top of our list. They divide their time between a number of different homes in the U.S. and France. As it so happened, they were in Peillon this week, making it ideal to meet up and we made it our first stop.
(Now, don’t be lazy about going back to read last year’s Nouvellettre® because you’ll learn a lot about the village, their sprawling beautiful home there under the rocks and our incredible meal at La Madone that we’ll never forget…particularly the tomato salad.)
We picked up the rental car at the train station yesterday morning because the offices “downtown,” behind the Meridien Hotel and steps from my apartment, were closed as a result of the pandemic. It ended up easy and pleasant, thanks to RentalCars.com and Sixt. Erica opted for an automatic transmission (btw, 50 percent more expensive than a manual transmission car) and Sixt upgraded the car to a powerful little BMW. Now that the “child drives the parent” (not the other way round), I got to sit back and let the “baby daughter” take the wheel. (It’s such a pleasure to be chauffeured!)
Out of town and up the hill we went, taking the steep curves with power, anticipating the tour of the village on foot, meeting our friends and dining at the Auberge. It was every bit as picturesque as we remembered it. The roads were just as winding and narrow. The village is even more charming than ever. Let’s face it. We were not disappointed.
Sitting on the patio of their beautiful home, surrounded by stone and hundreds of years of history, before heading over for lunch, Terry asked about a recent story in Parler Nice: “The Million Dollar View,” from July 27, 2020.
“The woman who sang opera at the party in the villa in Villefranche-sur-Mer…was her name Christina?”
“Why yes. Do you know her?,” I asked.
“We bought this very house from her. She renovated and decorated it and lived here many years. We know her well and we know the house in Villefranche, too! We were supposed to be at that party!”
Imagine my shock? My jaw dropped.
The coincidences never seem to end with Terry, Charlie and Peillon. No doubt, we were in the right place at the right time and this is clearly where I am supposed to be…in France, having these synchronistic moments, meeting people who are connected to me in many different ways.
Our multi-course, three-hour gourmet lunch at La Madone was exceptional. They didn’t have the tomato salad like we had last year, but they concocted a nice one for us anyway. The experience just went uphill from there. The owners of the establishment, the Millo Family, all know Christina, too…naturally…and they spoke of her. Everyone in Peillon knows everyone else in Peillon. That’s how it works in a small village such as this.
With satisfied bellies we said our good-byes and made a few more stops before heading home: to Peille, La Turbie, Eze and Villefranche-sur-Mer on route back to Nice via the Basse Corniche. Medieval Peille was “hard work,” as there is not a level spot in the town—it’s a series of steps down to the center, overlooking the River Peillon. I took in a brief tour to descend only as far as I know I could make it back up! Next was La Turbie, the pretty Riviera town, postcard perfect, that is punctuated by a large monument, the Trophy of Augustus, celebrating his victory over the Ligurian tribes of the area.
A Monument & Typical Street in La Turbie
Day One of our three-day car tour of the region was a success on all counts. Today, Day Two, we head toward the Gorges du Verdun, more than a two-hour drive from Nice, but sure to be the most breathtaking landscape of all. You may hear more about it in Thursday’s French Property Insider. (If you’re not already a subscriber, you can become a follower on our French Property Insider website). Thursday is up for grabs…for now.
Saturday, Erica and I board a flight for Calvi, Corsica…one week of real R&R. You will not hear from me again until August 17th…but get ready for an eyeful of the magnificent unspoiled French island that most people, sadly, miss getting to know.
A la prochaine…
A la prochaine,
Adrian Leeds Group
(with daughter, Erica)
P.S. When I leave Nice at the very beginning of September, my apartment, “Le Matisse,” will be available for stays by friends of Parler Nice. It’s a very comfortable one-bedroom apartment (missing nothing) in the very heart of Nice, just a short walk to the beach and surrounded by the city’s best shopping. If you are interested, email [email protected] for more information.