It’s been about 20 weeks since I last updated this blog. How can I restart after all this time, I say to Joel, who is sitting next to me on his computer, sniffling about the Chelsea-Arsenal result (2-0). He says, write about how you ran 10 miles last night training for a half-marathon; write about how you spent a whole day at a training course in French for volunteers, and understood everything; write about how far we can swim! He’s always so upbeat. When I shake my head, he shakes his, and says, write about Ted, then. But when I look, I don’t even have a recent photo of Ted, except this one:
Joel and Ted are definitely my favorite subjects:
What I should really be doing is writing about how, the longer we spend here, the larger it all becomes. I’ve spent a lot of time whinging about how small Nice is, but the Riviera is huge, and full of discoveries. Some, like the Irish designer Eileen Gray’s house, are hard to get at. I’ve been fascinated by this Art Deco building in Roquebrune Cap-Martin since we arrived. Gray designed it, but the architect Le Corbusier, who built a beach hut and some camping cabins nearby, painted murals all over the walls, which Gray hated. He also painted all over the tiny bar/restaurant next door. It’s a long story, but the house was abandoned, then squatted, and more recently was the subject of a bitter dispute between the organisations that were trying to restore it, so sat deserted for years. Things are moving forward now, but it’s still rarely open to the public, so when we lucked into a private tour a couple of weeks ago, I was thrilled. Sadly, the house feels cold, as though it was never loved, despite its fabulous setting, with an amazing view of Monaco. The bar next door was a completely different story, a shabby little place that couldn’t have felt more welcoming.
It’s funny, but you can feel if a house has been loved. There’s a huge place called Eilenroc in Cap d’Antibes, built in 1867. It’s surrounded by beautiful gardens, and has a sweeping view toward the strange rock formation called the Esterel, which is part of a familiar view from all along the coast. In theory, it’s amazing. Woody Allen has used it as a location in “Magic in the Moonlight”. But in reality, well, we decided not to buy that one either.
I think I have to say my favorite house is Santo Sospir on Cap Ferrat. The artist Jean Cocteau came to stay with the owner in the 1950s and asked if he could paint the hearth in the living room. Several years later he was still there, and had painted murals on almost every wall in the house. Joel loves this house too: we’ve visited it a couple of times. You could just phone up the man who lives there (he was the owner’s carer before she died), and ask him to show you around. I think now that the State has finally taken on the much-needed restoration, it will be a long time before you can get into it again. It’s so easy to imagine yourself there, on the terrace, watching the sun set behind Nice, sitting and chatting. It’s so easy to imagine Cocteau there too, and Picasso, and Matisse, having some pretty amazing evenings…
Going up into the mountains behind us makes Nice feel pretty small. It can be 10 or 12 degrees C cooler up there too – very worth the hairpin-bends:
Another development worth mentioning is Joel’s newfound interest in creating the perfect sausage roll. It’s great, but fattening.
Perhaps my newfound interest in my Nike+ Running app will counterbalance my role as chief sausage-roll taster. Unfortunately the app crashed and didn’t record the aforementioned 10-mile run, but it did record my first-ever run in Central Park in September.
VEGETARIANS LOOK AWAY! This was something a friend and I chanced upon last Sunday morning in Place Garibaldi in the centre of Nice. It was a a sort of cow-roast, a whole animal rotisserie’d overnight. They were giving away plates piled with rare meat, which was actually delicious, but what was left of the cow is not necessarily what you want to discover without any forewarning.