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‘Joie de Vivre’ with Your Head and Your Hands

I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it myself. It snowed in Nice.

It had been raining for days playing havoc with our building’s plumbing system, creating a bouchon (blockage) in the main sewage pipes that flooded my neighbors’ apartments — but, luckily not mine! Still, it put a ‘damper’ on the finishing of Le Matisse (Le Matisse Apartment) as running any water in the apartment would just contribute to the overall problem.

I came to Nice Sunday to put the finishing touches on the apartment. These are the final bits and pieces that are what an abode is all about. And these are the things that no one else can decide but yourself or a trusted designer.

Trust me — the men who know how to screw on the toilet paper roll holder don’t have a clue WHERE it should go. They certainly don’t know how to attach the curtain rod so that the drapes hang at the right length or especially, how to protect your things from the dust that penetrates everything at a “chantier” (construction site).

No offense, but there’s a reason these (usually) guys are working with their HANDS. Often, I wonder if their heads are attached at all. But of course, those that are, end up being the boss and no longer are working with their hands, but their heads. And then they have to direct the guys who are all hands. I saw it yesterday as ‘the boss’ couldn’t get anything done himself while he watched over every task ‘the hands’ were doing. Fortunately he was there to do just that.

1-2-12 gray niceMeanwhile, the beautiful winter blue skies in Nice turned to gray and rain and now snow. It’s highly unusual. As the city prepares for Carnaval de Nice, it’s feeling the pains of winter not usually on the blue coast horizon. The bleachers have been erected along the Promenade des Anglais and at Place Masséna to welcome the parades and festivities that begin on the 17th of February — just 2.5 weeks away.

The first guests arrive very soon to Le Matisse, but I hope to come back and enjoy the new apartment myself during the carnival season. I must say, I am really pleased with the outcome. All the ideas that began in the head, that now have been realized by hand in wood, glass, tile, stone, metal and fabric, came together just as it had been imagined and way better. Le Matisse is a work of art — mine and Véronique’s (our mosaïste) and Martine’s (our designer).

The mirrored bedroom wall reflects the three tall windows giving the illusion of five and makes the space feel twice as large and twice as bright (although the sun that pours in will knock your eyes out…even with all the rain!). The glass atelier wall that separates the rooms makes it feel as if there is no end in sight to the pleasure. The mosaic tile is like a jewel — akin to how the Taj Mahal glows from the gems from which it is constructed. Color is dotted everywhere — not so that it becomes a circus — but it’s fun and happy and alive! When you walk in, you can’t help, but feel good.

I’m getting to know Nice in a different way than the way I first got to know Paris. Spending so much time in “Le Carré d’Or” with this one goal in mind (getting this apartment up and running and rented) means which restaurants are worth going to among those that are not. It means learning the retail resources like a native. It means not going to the beach every day (or hardly at all) or the Cours Saleya for bad food and too many tourists. It means taking on a bit of “humbling” — since Nice is to Paris as New Orleans is to New York — ‘small potatoes.’

The Niçois are not necessarily those I’ll get to know well, as the Parisians haven’t been either all these years. It’s the Expats that make it all so interesting, actually — the people who have come from all over the world to enjoy what the French have made ripe for them. Aren’t we rude for taking advantage of their sense of esthetics only to complain or question their methodology?

1-2-12HarrietWeltyRochefortI received an email from author Harriet Welty Rochefort, who upon reading Monday’s Nouvellettre® complaining about the French not willing to accept that they might not know about something wrote: “Ah, so you got the ça n’existe pas treatment, too?! I laughed upon reading your column on that phenomenon and cited it in a passage in my new book. Your story fit in so well with what I’m writing, I couldn’t resist but to put it in. Joie de Vivre is such a fun book to write and I do hope you’ll enjoy it when it comes out next Fall. Cheers! Harriet”

And you know we all will!!

A la prochaine…

adrian villefranche nightAdrian Leeds
Editor, Parler Paris

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ThirzaVallois-150P.S. Mark your calendar for February 14th when Paris expert, author and lecturer, Thirza Vallois, speaks on “Romantic Paris” at Parler Paris Après Midi from 3 to 5 p.m. at La Pierre du Marais. Visit Parler Paris Après Midi for more information!

P.P.S. Planning a trip to New York City? See below for an opportunity to book your stay in a really cool studio apartment March 14 to April 4!

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