Living “Nice-ly” in the Present
SPECIAL NOTE: From time to time, instead of “Speak Paris” (Parler Paris), you will be receiving “Speak Nice” (Parler Nice). It only makes sense that when I’m on the Côte d’Azur, that instead of pretending to be in Paris talking about Nice and the Riviera, that we should just call ‘a spade a spade’ and talk about Nice instead.
For those of you who are only interested in the Riviera, and not Paris, you may opt in to just Parler Nice. And for those of you who have been reading Parler Paris for a long time, you may just have to put up with a Parler Nice on occasion. If you’re not interested in what goes on on the Mediterranean coast, then just delete the issue and forget you ever saw it.
Yep, it’s the last day of the year 2014. Tomorrow is a new day, a new year and in some ways, a new life…but I am not one to live in the past, or live for the future. Living in the present is the only way to live. In fact, it’s the only way we DO live — our lives exist only in the present, so we might as well make the most of it.
The French are able to live more in the present than most, because they have more of a safety net. They don’t have to worry quite so much about having security for their retirement years, being taken care of if they have major health issues, having enough money to educate their children or losing their jobs at the drop of a hat. In some ways they live with a lot less stress as a result and do actually live longer than many others.
Still, they are suffering from an ailing economy. Recently the country was called “the sick man of Europe.” “Among EU countries in the past 25 years, only Italy has seen slower growth. Frances budget deficit is bigger than Italys and its current-account deficit is the largest in the euro zone.” (economist.com/)
You wouldn’t know it, though, from life on the streets, in the stores and restaurants…at least not here in Nice. These people are living in the present. Since the Côte d’Azur has an average of 200,000 visitors a day, many of these people are likely tourists or reaping the rewards of their expenditures — about 82 per day per person.
According to the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development), France ranks among the top ten countries in their “Better Life Index.” The French earn more per year than the OECD average, work less hours, have a higher life expectancy and in general, are more satisfied with their lives. (See The Better Life Index if you don’t believe me!)
This hasn’t stopped everyone from complaining about the past year’s woes, economic, political or otherwise. There is constant conversation about the country’s ailments from just about everyone whose livelihood depends on France. This is what living in the present is like, at present.
In a conversation last night over champagne and hors d’oeuvres with a “Parisienne” who shares her time with Nice, she extolled on the unfairness of the current Parisian rental laws that have lowered the value of her investment property and the inability to generate an income from something she worked hard to earn. Again, in an effort to protect the consumer, the consumer is also the one who suffers — if the landlord can’t earn enough to sustain the property and the tenant doesn’t have the right to rent it for less than one year.
She was proud to tell us that she makes a point of renting to tenants who might normally be rejected by the average landlord — foreigners or people of ‘ethnic origin.’ (Bravo, Brigitte!) She complained about the tough year of 2014 and was clearly looking for some better news in 2015.
Our hosts were entertaining us in an apartment they rent every year for four months, living the rest of the year in the U.S. What would they do if they couldn’t find housing for those four months? Fortunately, Nice hasn’t yet adopted the Parisian laws that restrict the rentals to one year or more, even though they could because the laws are federal. But we don’t expect them to, given that on the Côte d’Azur, there are 170,000 secondary residences (11% of all residences), 48,000 of which are owned by foreigners. (See the statistical source) What would they do if they couldn’t use their homes or help house the 11 million tourists a year that flock to the Riviera?
Monday night we had dinner with Parisian friends now living on the Old Port and called up and Uber car to take us home at the late hour. The car was there in three minutes, we were home in five minutes and the bill was a ‘whopping’ 4…well worth it. Taxis in Nice have always been more expensive than Parisian taxis and the tramway and buses don’t run as late at night as in Paris, so the speedy way home was a blessing.
It will sadly be our last Uber in France. As of tomorrow, Uber will be banned in France. Parisian taxi drivers, heavily regulated and taxed, couldn’t tolerate the competition and created a stir big enough to put Uber out of business. In an effort to protect the consumer, once again the action hurts consumers — consumers like us who are willing to take the risk with an ‘amateur driver’ to save money, plus it hurts the drivers themselves who, in this economically ailing world, have found a creative way of earning a living. Of course, the taxi drivers don’t see it this way. They only see what they consider unfair competition.
Sorry Uber, we wish it weren’t so. You will be sadly missed and you were enjoyed while we had you.
As planned, Tuesday we walked up to the St. Nicholas’ Russian-Orthodox Cathedral only to discover that it’s under a full-scale renovation and totally swathed in scaffolding and netting. We saw nothing of the magnificent structure and was told that we won’t be able to for at least another year. We were hoping to be more in the present and have a fulfilling visit. Now, it’s marked for ‘this time next year’ — and this we can call ‘looking to the future.’
Looking at the past, I’ve had some wonderful times at “Le Matisse” in our beloved Riviera city, Nice, watching “Henri le Cactus” grow more like a weed than a succulent, and watching the city go from a forlorn old dame to a young vibrant stallion. As a result, the American community is growing as it discovers its virtues as a place where one can really make a ‘nice’ life and live in the present.
I hope Nice will also be a part of my future.
A la prochaine…
Editor of Parler Nice
P.S. Tune in to House Hunters International for “Californians Sell their Vineyard to Afford a Summer Home on the Costly Côte d’Azur” on January 2 at 11:30 p.m. ET / 10:30 p.m. CT and January 3 at 2:30 a.m. ET / 1:30 a.m. CT. When California winery owners Jann and Gerry decided it was time to sell up so they could afford a summer home in southeastern France, would they find a place with old-world charm for Jann but that was move-in ready for Gerry?
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