La Vie à la Niçoise (Life Nice Style)
The trip to Nice this week was primarily for the annual “Assemblée Générale” of the “Copropriété” (meeting of the homeowners association) of my Niçois apartment, “Le Matisse.” With only a few apartments in the building and a very congenial group of owners, it lasted only 45 minutes — a virtual record in my books of association meetings. Resolution after resolution was passed with no opposition and in the end there was discussion of putting an elevator in the building — which may be near to impossible, but worth looking into.
Le Matisse is on the third floor and I have never minded going up the lovely marble stairs — it’s great for one’s health to have this exercise and it’s improved my stamina. In fact, I have never regretted having stairs in any of my apartments (70 steps up to home in Paris) as they get easier to mount all the time, but ‘le Monsieur’ who lives on the fourth floor and who is about 10 to 15 years older than me might really appreciate a lift.
One of the owners quickly alleged that the value of our property would increase substantially with an elevator, to which I was surprised that a Frenchman would be so cognizant of property value. Nevertheless, Le Matisse stays very well rented and no one has ever complained about the stairs — as the trade off, of course, is light and view. The sun pours in, the blue skies are looming out the windows and the views overlooking rue Masséna with all its pedestrian traffic are lovely, lively and fun.
Nice is gearing up for their annual Nice Jazz Festival July 8th to 12th. Friends who live here part of the year were proud to boast that they were two of the 1,660 people who helped establish a Guinness World Record by being part of the largest human saxophone on June 21st on the Promenade de Paillon. I really wish I hadn’t missed that!
Place Masséna is already set up with a stage and musicians are already playing their tunes even though the festival hasn’t officially begun. The line-up is impressive, with such artists as Deep Purple, Har Mar Superstar and De La Soul on the same bill. Plus (!), the Gypsy Kings, Ed Motta and the Nice Orchestra Horns, Electro Deluxe, Richard Galliano and the Nice Jazz Orchestra, Dr John and the Nite Trippers featuring Sarah Morrow and Keziah Jones. Not bad, huh?
The other stage set for the festival is situated in the Théâtre de Verdure, in the Jardin Albert 1er. Both of the stages are literally a stone’s throw from my apartment. Jazz will also be in the streets of Nice and along with the music, an art exhibition of photography is planned for the Promenade du Paillon as well as other events in conjunction with local Niçois galleries.
Lots of Americans have opted in for Nice in lieu of Paris — I’m meeting more all the time. Some of them moved from Paris and are extolling the virtues of the Mediterranean enclave — its weather, ambiance and activities. Nice is not Paris, but Nice is nice, as they say, and while it may not offer quite as much culturally as Paris, it has many other attributes. One of which is the Mediterranean cuisine.
Since arriving Monday afternoon, we haven’t stopped dining out and having some of the finest meals one can have — much more reasonably priced than in Paris for the same quality. Le Patron at the Bistrot d’Antoine, a restaurant I never leave Nice without patronizing, told us last night that they are opening another restaurant in Vieux Nice named “Le Bar des Oiseaux” (at the corner of rue Saint Vincent an rue de lAbbaye) that will be ready by the end of July. They already own Le Comptoir du Marché (8, rue du Marché, Phone: 04 93 13 45 01) and it’s just as good at the Bistrot.
Another of my favorites is Il Vicoletto at 6, rue de France. It’s seriously Italian and seriously delicious. Their two-course lunch special for 15 is a serious bargain. One of our clients is purchasing an apartment just over the restaurant who will benefit from the fragrances from the kitchen and likely become a seriously regular patron himself once he discovers its virtues.
Today will first be a stop at La Rotunde at the Negresco Hotel, also one of my favorites, particularly for its Salade Niçoise, although there will only be time for a coffee there with a new acquaintance. The terrace is a great spot for working on a computer or whiling away the time while overlooking the ocean and feeling oh so elegant.
After, and just a few blocks away will be lunch at the Victor Hugo, a discovery I made recently. This little restaurant at 1, rue Berlioz (at the corner of avenue Victor Hugo, phone: 04 93 87 11 58), only serves at lunch, is filled with locals and their pets, and is a culinary experience at a “petit prix.” The reviews by tourists are mixed because the women who run the bistrot are particularly ‘tough,’ but I quite liked their independent character — you just have to approach them with the right attitude and you’ll be treated like royalty!
Yes, Nice is nice. Nice is so nice that each time I’m here I think, “I could live here forever,” and “I don’t want to leave just yet,” and just what it would be like to exchange ‘gray Paree’ for “la vie à la Niçoise?” Although, I don’t really have to — I can have both!
A la prochaine…
Director of The Adrian Leeds Group, Inc
(at La Rotunde)
P.S. The last meeting of the season for the Parler Parlor French-English Conversation Group will be held on Saturday, June 28. Parler Parlor will reopen Saturday, September 6 and the annual La Rentrée Party will be held on Saturday, September 13. Enjoy your summer!