Winging It On the Promenade
We missed the Anti-Trump rally in Paris, as at that moment, my daughter and I were having a lovely excursion to one of the oldest medieval villages on the Riviera — Saint-Paul-de-Vence. It is here that the Fondation Maeght is situated — just a 15 minute walk (uphill in the woods) from the town entrance.
The 400 bus takes you there in one hour from Nice, starting off just a couple of blocks from my apartment. It runs about every thirty minutes, although ours was 40 minutes late, for what reason we never discovered.
Saint-Paul is as picturesque as it gets. Every turn is eye candy and a photo op. The views from the top are stunning. It’s well known as a hide-away for celebrities, including French actors Yves Montand, Simone Signoret and poet Jacques Prévert. Many famous artists lived there, as well — the likes of Marc Chagall, for example, and writers such as Bernard-Henri Lévy and James Baldwin (who died there in 1987).
Its only problem is that in today’s world, it is one art gallery after another filled with (bad) art dotted by a few clothing boutiques, souvenir shops and restaurants. It’s one of those things you do once every few years for a couple of hours, and it’s enough. I can’t imagine living there — having to maneuver the steep streets and remote life…but that probably sounds like heaven to many others.
If you’re like me and need a bit more action (and better art), take your stroll around the town, then head over to the Fondation Maeght. http://www.fondation-maeght.com/en/ It’s not a large museum and its collection is small, but important. Conceived and financed by Marguerite and Aimé Maeght (a Paris art dealer and gallery owner) and open all year long, it is devoted to presenting modern and contemporary art, including the likes of Joan Miró, Alexander Calder, Fernand Leger, Georges Braque, Alberto Giacometti, Marc Chagall and Eduardo Chillida.
The current exhibition is a collaborative effort between Christo and Jeanne-Claude who created a “Mastaba” (a kind of ancient Egyptian eternal house) in the “Giacometti Courtyard” (on only until November 27th). It’s nine meters high, 17 meters long and nine meters wide, constructed of oil barrels of different colors. It’s impressive, but don’t hang your hat on just this current exhibition — the sculpture garden alone is worth the price of admission (15€).
Meanwhile, hundreds of protesters showed their defiance in Paris carrying signs, banners and chanting various slogans such as “No Trump, no hate, no KKK” and “Hey hey, ho ho, Donald Trump has got to go” during a three-hour march taking them past the Eiffel Tower. My favorite sign among them all was “Pussy is powerful.” (Guess he’s been “eating” his words ever since. [Pun intended.])
Now, two weeks since the U.S. presidential election, I can honestly say “thank you” to The Donald, for awakening us all, if for nothing else. All that hatred, racism, misogyny, islamophobia, homophobia and transphobia, anti-Semitism, ableism, xenophobia and white nationalism that spewed from his mouth and others around him, that was appreciated by so many, has clearly illustrated that it’s been bubbling under the surface for a long time (in the interest of being “politically correct”) and now the other half are acutely aware that something has to be done to remove it from the planet, or at least from the United States. Funny how a country of “united” states, has become so “un-united,” or divisive; a country made up of immigrants who just wanted so much to be a part of the whole. We needed this shake-up, didn’t we? Thank you again, Mr. Trump.
One reason I went to Nice (other than to have some quality time with my daughter and take long, luxurious baths in my big oval tub) was to check up on an apartment under renovation that clients of ours are in the process of purchasing. The apartment is like many in Nice that a developer or “marchand de bien” buys at a good price, then renovates to a sale-able level. Because the buyers arrived on the scene before it was completed, the developer agreed to change a few things to their specifications, but that makes the sale a bit tricky under French law. The developer wants guarantees that the buyers will go to completion without any hiccups so that he won’t be stuck with a property constructed to satisfy them and not a broader market of buyers. At the same time, the buyers want to be guaranteed that their money is buying them what they want and are being promised.
The entire team is in a spin, like a dog chasing his own tail. The team consists of the buyers, the seller (the developer), both agents (the agent of record and myself), the Notaires (one for each party, one in Paris, one in Nice) and the interior designer who has been hired to liaise for the clients to ensure it all goes smoothly. Meanwhile, it’s a great apartment just one block from the sea, with a view of the sea from the bedroom and balcony, a wrap-around balcony accessible from every room in a beautiful art-deco building with a lift. It doesn’t get better than this in Nice and I’m a bit jealous!
Sunday afternoon we strolled the Promenade des Anglais under cloudy skies just before the rain came down. A man wearing all black with a bald head looking very sculptural against the clouded sky was feeding the gulls at the edge of the water, causing quite a stir among the birds and gathering onlookers. We were among them, just taking in the scenery, the activity of the gulls and the grace of the man who controlled it all.
Nice at this time of year is quieter than usual, meaning that there’s no problem getting a table at even the most popular restaurants and the population is mostly made up of residents, rather than tourists. The Christmas decorations have been hung along rue Masséna, but they aren’t lit yet. That happens on December 2nd when inaugurated on the Promenade du Paillon at 6 p.m.
Dieting is near to impossible with so many great restaurants in Nice, although Mediterranean cuisine is easier to find low-calorie choices using more olive oil and less butter than Parisian bistrots. All weekend long we had exceptional meals at a few of my tried-and-true favorite restaurants: Bistrot Antoine (try the Salade de Veau); Il Vicoletto (they go out of their way to please you and almost everyone there is Italian); Portovenere (love their grilled calamari); Coco et Rico (have you ever had mussels cooked in coco nut milk?) and even the well-known Safari on the Cours Saleya (for a Petit Farcis and other Niçois dishes).
All while we were enjoying the sun and surf of the Riviera, the French were voting in the Republican primaries (the conservatives, a turn-out of four million voters), surprising us all with their decisions. Nicolas Sarkozy (20%) was seriously defeated by French prime ministers François Fillon (44%) and Alain Juppé (28%). The goal is for both the Socialists and the Republicans, together, to beat out National Front’s Marine Le Pen, who has gained support and momentum since the election of Donald Trump. It’s going to be a very interesting race to the Elysée Palace…
For all of you who will be eating turkey this coming Thursday, you can bet we here in France will be, too. More about this and how French turkeys rival the American version in Wednesday’s Nouvellettre®.
A la prochaine,
Editor of Parler Nice
Adrian Leeds Group
(in St. Paul de Vence, by Erica Simone)
P.S. “Le Matisse,” my apartment near the sea in the Carré d’Or district, and the two-bedroom apartment next door, is available for short stays to friends of Parler Paris, Parler Nice and the Adrian Leeds Group. Email [email protected] for more information and to book your stay!