The Iron Man Cometh to Nice
Patty Sadauskas and I trained our way down to the Riviera for the Meet the Authors Forum that took place Saturday afternoon in the heart of Nice. We didn’t need much of an excuse to say to Ella Dyer, author of Nice in Nice and the event organizer, “Sure, we’d be delighted to be there.” (I’ll take any excuse to get down to my favorite Mediterranean town.)
I didn’t know what was going on at the time, but we had a hard time getting to Gare du Lyon thanks to bumper-to-bumper traffic, almost missing the train. Then, the station was wall-to-wall with travelers. The train was fully booked, luggage was overflowing the racks, with lots of bikes (which was a clue something special was going on in Nice) and people, children and pets were up and down the aisles “san cesse” (ceaselessly).
It all seemed a bit surrealistic. Has the summer vacation already begun so immediately after Fête de la Musique? We didn’t want to miss the annual festival in Paris, hence the travel schedule the following day. (Maybe we weren’t the only people to think this way?)
Our little group chose to meet on the longest day of the year (June 21st) at Chez Josephine on the Place du Marché Sainte-Catherine for an early dinner and a tour of the music in the “quartier.” Chez Josephine wouldn’t take our reservation, but I literally begged them after extolling the café’s virtues and blubbering about how much we loved the café so that they basically saved a hot spot for our little group. The food is extraordinarily healthy and delicious – a surprise for such a café. (Try it and tell them I sent you!)
We watched the Place fill with people, a rock band of old guys take their places and start to play, danced around a bit, then took off for other venues, including making a circle (or really a square) around Place des Vosges. It is under the vaulted ceiling promenade that there were choral groups, classic ensembles and a variety of other non-frenetic sounds taking advantage of the excellent acoustics.
The evening was cool and breezy, but we found there were way fewer people than what seemed normal, or from past Fêtes. At sundown, about 10:15 p.m. or so, the group of us wandered off in different directions. I headed home to get a good night’s sleep before the morning train to Nice and discovered rue de Saintonge blocked by a tractor, bales of hay, musicians and beer-drinkers littering the street. It was not what I had in mind and hadn’t expected the commotion taking place just under my bedroom window…but “c’est la vie pendant la Fête de la Musique.” Oh well, it’s only once a year…and always a pleasure, even if I was serenaded to sleep.
Once our train pulled into the station, it didn’t take long before we realized that the bikes were meant for the annual Iron Man Triathlon: Swim, Bike, Run. The city was filled with tight-bodied athletes of all ages and persuasions. The annual competition took place all day Sunday starting early in the morning, until sundown, closing the Promenade des Anglais off to the usual pedestrians while the participants wowed the spectators.
As I wrote this, I had a perfect view from my usual Balthazar Café corner table from which I heard the announcers introducing the athletes and their accomplishments. There are so many bikes rolling by, that one might confuse the Rivera town with Amsterdam! (I jest, of course.)
The day after we arrived in Nice, we started off our weekend with a leisurely lunch next to the water at Le Galet, the city’s best beach-side restaurant. The iron structure that supports the louvered roof and canvas walls miraculously appears for the summer season. The space is filled with staff who are attentive and friendly. You can count on beautifully prepared food, for both lunch and dinner. If you had to choose one spot along the water to take in the spirit of Nice, this is it.
The weather held out perfectly as once we stepped inside the Scotch Tea House for the Meet the Authors, the clouds came overhead and the rain started. This way, no one would mind giving up their afternoon to be inside in the dark cozy back room of the Tea House where seven authors each made presentations about their work over the course of two-and-a-half hours.
There were more than 50 people who came to hear each of the local authors speak, ask questions, buy signed copies of their books and show their support for the world of literature. Many of our own Nice clients attended – new comers to Nice who are either renting apartments or acquiring them. Ella Dyer, who showed up in a similar pink dress as mine (making us look like bookends), did an outstanding job of organizing the event. It was really fun for me to Emcee it for the second year in a row. Personally, as a would-be author of a memoir, I learned a lot from hearing the authors’ different points of view on the plusses and minuses of self-publishing (or not), and the worthiness of editors (or not).
As it turned out, all weekend long was beautifully sunny or partly-cloudy, the days warm and humid, with a few light sprinkles, even though lots of rain was predicted. That’s Nice for you…nice as always!
As you read this, I will likely be on the beach of the Baie des Anges (with Iron Man completed) on the fancy new red rolling “transat” (lounge chair) with a sun shade I bought to catch some energizing rays before heading back to Paris tomorrow.
A la prochaine…
Editor of Parler Nice
Adrian Leeds Group
(at Le Galet, photo by Patty Sadauskas)
P.S. Henri-le-Cactus gets taller with every passing moment. Contact me personally to visit Henri, stay as a guest at Le Matisse (my pied-a-terre in the Carré d’Or) and enjoy Nice as much as I do! Email me today.