Thanks to all of you who wrote in response to Monday’s Nouvellettre® about welcoming Americans to Paris during the 20124 Olympic Games. You’ve had some really worthwhile things to add to the presentation!
One of particular note was to clean things up in the City of Light: cigarette butts, dog poop, the homeless, trash, pickpockets, etc., etc. I wholeheartedly agree. In fact, I think the city has become dirtier the last few years under Madame Mayor Hidalgo’s reign. In addition, there are fewer windows adorned by flowers than in the past – when there were competitions for the best windows in Paris. A campaign to clean up the city would be a welcome change for all of us, whether resident or tourist!
Nice, by comparison is spotlessly clean with the exception of occasional dog poop – mostly of the small dog variety. I arrived here late Saturday night to my apartment already being enjoyed by old friends visiting from Germany. We woke to a Sunday of gloriously bright blue skys and warm air. The market along Cour Saleya was bumper-to-bumper with shoppers and lookie-loos, but happily we were among them. We stopped into Fragonard, the “Parfumeur” (a bit of a ritual), and bought way too much. One of the salespeople there recognizes me as a regular and knows how to schmooze me into leaving with a big bag of goodies (that I never regret taking home).
Sunday lunch at Le Safari on the Cour is “de rigueur” – to have a “demi-portion” of a “Salade Niçoise” and “Petits Farcis” washed down with a glass of cool pale rosé wine. This was after we stocked up on fresh olives and nuts plus a few Provençal soaps (“verveine” and “romarin” are my favorites). After, we strolled down the Promenade des Anglais and took in the activity on the beaches and in the water – still cool in May, but destined to warm up well by August. This didn’t deter many a swimmer.
While sunbathers were on the pebbles soaking up the strong rays, we were on the comfy lounges at Le Coin Lounge at Ruhl Plage, a cool spot I discovered last summer for a great place to bring a laptop and work under the big umbrellas while looking out over the azure blue sea. (Heaven.)
Monday, we rented a car and drove by Autoroute (A8) to visit another old friend, Barb Westfield, in Ansouis, a small village in the Luberon of Provence, where she has a big village house that she rents when she’s not there. The rental car companies have offices a stone’s throw from my apartment, “Le Matisse,” making it “du gâteau” to have access to a car should we want one. For this, we wanted one. The drive was only a couple of hours and the scenery is drop-dead beautiful. The lavender isn’t out in force yet, but will be soon, blooming through the summer, but the poppies were abundant. Provence is as lush and as green as Ireland thanks to the abundance of rains this year, including the past weekend storms and a storm we managed to miss just after we left.
Tourists stop to take photos of Barb’s house and stick their noses to the glass to see in. She added a reflective film on the windows for privacy, but her three-level house appointed to the nines along with the quintessential Provençal village is where dreams are made. It’s no wonder we are all so jealous of author Peter Mayle (A Year in Provence, et al)…and Barb Westfield. She reluctantly must return to Chicago today and complained bitterly about it all day Monday – that she was depressed thinking about leaving her idyllic spot. I don’t blame her one bit.
We spent the afternoon visiting various nearby Luberon villages to take in the Provençal “eye candy.” Cucuron has a particularly beautiful “etang” (pond) lined in trees that is picture perfect. The 2005 film, “A Good Year,” directed by Ridley Scott and starring Russel Crowe and Marion Cotillard was filmed there. At the nearby village of Lourmarin, one of my favorites in the region, we strolled through a substantial “brocante” with some beautiful antique finds and shopped in little boutiques that line the quaint cobblestone streets. Here there is a wonderful collection of upscale Provençal designers where one can do some serious damage (I am always seduced by them, and this time was no different). In them midst of spending money, the rain came down and we found refuge in a petit Salon de Thé nestled behind a small garden to warm our bones with exotic teas. It was purely Provençal.
The lifestyle on the Riviera and Provence is addictive, just like it is in Paris, but for different reasons. Having them both is ideal. That’s one reason I’ll be back in Nice a month from now to Emcee the Meet a Author’s event on June 23rd — a repeat of last year’s event, but with different authors! Here’s where you have a chance to meet a group of local authors, discover their books and their stories. They will talk about their recent works, read a bit from them and answer your questions. You will have an opportunity to purchase their books and get signed copies! Participation is free (but we ask that you purchase at least one drink to show the host venue how much we appreciate them).
Don’t miss this special event in Nice! Stay tuned right here in Parler Nice (or Parler Paris) for details or in the meantime, read the report from last year’s event.
A la prochaine,
Editor of Parler Nice
Adrian Leeds Group
P.S. Henri-le-Cactus welcomes my friends and guests at Le Matisse. To learn more about how you can arrange your stay chez moi, email me for a link to a special page all about it at [email protected] for more information.