Electric glide in blue

Municipal Police flirting

The restaurant is on the ground floor (plus basement storerooms) of a building owned by the Ville de Nice. The rest of the building is used as an etat-major (headquarters, more or less) by the municipal police. It was renovated completely over the past three years, and while the front is the same belle epoque building it always was, it has attached at the back a strange glass and metal extension that looks like a pile of aluminium rulers. The police and their support teams have pretty much moved in now. Last week there was a succession of small trucks with… well, I don’t know what they’re called, really. Funicular-style cherrypickers? Mini escalators at a very steep angle? The movers used them to hoik everything up through the front windows.

Parts of the team have been there for a few months. On the floor just above the restaurant, there’s the Surveillance Urbain – 624 monitors connected to CCTV cameras around Nice. There are a hell of a lot of petits voyous (petty thugs) in this town, but if I understand the local paper, Nice Matin, correctly, the police are usually onto them pretty quick. I like to think that’s because of the people right upstairs. From the top floors of the building you must have a pretty amazing view right over the centre of Nice and the sea, so no wonder we see so many men in blue leaning over the baclonies above us smoking.

I also suspect the cameras keep an eye out for flirting opportunities, like the one in this pic. I took it from inside the restaurant on Easter Monday – the last two customers on the terrace. All the tables had been removed around them, but they still hadn’t noticed it was time to go. The police use Segways. Apparently lots of seaside towns around the world use them – but I’d never seen them. They can go up to 20km per hour, which is a good speed for a petit voyou to beat. Aren’t they fab? I love the police uniforms, too – that shade of blue; those boots! They gave up those little de Gaulle hats years ago – the ones you see in the old movies and on Foreign Legionnaires – though the gendarmes, who are the military police, still wear them, I think. My mother was a sucker for those hats. She was really disappointed when we went to Paris together years ago and she didn’t see any.

Suzanne

I spent almost the whole afternoon in the restaurant on Easter Monday. My mother-in-law invited some of her sisters and brothers and my sister in law Daniele. The restaurant isn’t usually open on Sunday night or Monday, but it was worth it – a very successful day. I love this photo of Joel’s aunt Suzanne, not just because it’s a great pic of her, but because of the food. She’s got a plateful of lobster spaghetti – look at that claw meat! You can also see what’s left of Uncle Albert’s sea bass, plus fried courgette flowers.

Joel spacing out

Joel was pretty exhausted. Sometimes I see him space out in a way I haven’t seen for a long, long time, not since he managed The Depot in Barnes. But once the police flirts had buzzed off and we could all go, we decided to drive to Villefranche for a drink, just the two of us. We’ve been here a whole month and still hadn’t been to our favourite place of all. Even at 7pm, the light was still golden and it was warm enough to sit at a beach cafe and have a pastis. It made us feel like we’re actually getting settled at last.

Easter Monday, Villefranche, 7pm

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About Suellen Grealy

In 2011, a series of coincidences led my husband Joel, our cat Ted and me away from London, where we lived quite happily for 30 years, to Nice, where Joel grew up. While he and his sister ran their restaurant, I wrote a novel. Family being family, Joel and his sister no longer work together. Writing being writing, the novel lingers on... Meanwhile, we've found ways of living a completely different life from the one we had in London, including running our own restaurant together, 7 Villermont. The only constants are our Ted, our now-battered Peugeot, and each other. Everything else is a complete surprise
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One Response to Electric glide in blue

  1. maryanne taragano rivera says:

    What fabulous photos!

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