Arrivée à Nice

Sorry for the French headline. I’m starting to think in French. Though last night I could not argue when Marie asserted that global warming is not caused by humans. I just don’t have the vocabulary. (Sigh). 

I moved into my apartment in Nice today. Lovely old building half a block from Cours Saleya where the Marche takes place every day but Monday. Happily there is an elevator to my fifth floor apartment but none to my private roof terrace.  

view of the alps

  

sea view from terrace

  

stairs to the terrace

 
 

Lunch in Italy 

Even though there is a tempest raging, your intrepid correspondent braved the storm (in Marie’s Mercedes) for a 30-minute drive across the border. Two borders, actually, since we passed through Monaco. 

Our goal–lunch at a restaurant Cathy and I discovered 3 years ago in Ventimiglia. Still fabulous. We had the menu degustazione, which was whatever the chef felt like serving us, taking account of what we didn’t care for. It was 3 courses for €42, which I assumed meant appetizer, main and dessert. The first course, pictured below, was foie gras in a wine reduction with cocoa and strawberries(!). Absolutely amazing.  The purple was a potato purée. 

 This was followed by mussels and barley with seaweed. Very tasty, if a bit salty. But Ellie scarfed it up. 

Service was very slow as every course was cooked a la minute and there was only 1 server for all 15 customers. I finished half a bottle of excellent merlot (who knew they cultivate Merlot in Italy?) at the end of this course, assuming dessert was next. And then the secondo appeared (you knew this was coming, right Susan?). Filet of beef in a fabulous sauce with whole artichokes, whose stems were wrapped in sautéed lardo. Of course, I had to order another glass of wine. Happily, Marie was driving and doesn’t drink much–the perfect dining companion. 

Now contemplating dinner of baguette, cheese and last night’s Pomerol. C’est, indeed, la vie. 

Mediterranean life

Ok people, where is everyone? Here I am busting my butt to give you photos of the south of France and what do I get in return? Silence. You think I’m here for my pleasure? Well, yes, actually. 

Yesterday was sunny and warm enough to have coffee on the terrace, where there are lemon trees.  

 In the afternoon, Marie and I drove down the Corniche to a villa that was built in the early 1900s by a Greek scholar, who recreated a Classical Greek home (with modern plumbing).  

 Here are shots of Marie and I in the garden by the sea.  

   

South of France 

Imagine all the movies you’ve seen with James Bond or some hot shot careening down the sinuous narrow roads from the mountains to the sea. Ok. Now imagine me crawling down those same roads, going about 15 mph.   

   I am in Cap d’Ail, a tiny town on the Riviera, so exclusive that no one has ever heard of it. It is right next door to Monaco. In fact, my friend Marie says, there are people who park their cars here and walk to Monaco, where parking is expensive! Poor Ferrari owners can’t afford the €20. 
I have certainly landed in a honey pot. Above is the view from my window. Below is the terrace of Marie’s apartment, looking out to the sea.  

  So what’s the problem? None for me, but Ellie has a bit of an issue with Marie’s cat, Tommy.  

 

Last day in Paris 

Here is the money shot you’ve been waiting for.  

 The Eiffel Tower from place de la Concorde.

Spent an hour in the Orangerie. I had seen some of Monet’s water lilies at MOMA, but they are more spectacular in the setting Monet designed for them.   An ugly painting by le douainier Rousseau featuring a dachshund. Unhappily, Ellie was not with me so she couldn’t enjoy it.  

 She did join us for lunch so was probably taking her post-prandial snooze. 

Tomorrow Nice!

Return to the scene of the crime

It appears that all I’ve done in Paris is eat. Today, I returned to the restaurant where Christian and I had dinner last week. Laurence joined me and agreed it was an amazing find. The place is tiny (10 tables) and has only 2 employees–the chef and his nephew, who serves as maitre d’ and waiter. The kitchen is open and watching the chef is like getting a cooking lesson. See the meat in the photo? I watched him cut off 2 steaks and turn them into steak au poivre. Everything–even dessert–is prepared to order in the tiny kitchen. There are very few places left in France or anywhere else you will find this kind of care.  
   

Received an email from alexandra: Loved your first days in Paris. Carter and I enjoyed the Cafe Marly some time ago. Look forward to going to the other restaurant you went to. Good picture of the side of beef. 

Happy about the elevator. Hope it does not go out often.

The Louvre for lunch

No one won yesterday’s quiz, which is too bad because the winner would have received a box of shriveled organic–GINGER!

No quiz today–the answer is too obvious. 

 
Yes, lunch at Cafe Marly in the Louvre. My friend Frederique, Ellie and I had a “cappuccino” of pumpkin (basically a cream of pumpkin soup–very good) and we split a burger (30€). Well worth it for the ambiance, as Ellie would be the first to agree.    

 

Marché Bio 

Just a quick note. This morning Ellie and I took the bus to Blvd. Raspail to see the famous organic market. Four blocks long, there were organic vegetables I had never seen before. Organic fish, bread, cheese, poultry–even pastry.    

Can anyone guess what this is?

 

At last–some culture 

  I finally made it across the street, but not to the Louvre. Yes, that is the Louvre, taken from the Musee des Arts Decoratifs, which is housed in an adjoining wing. It is the French version of the Victoria & Albert, particularly rich in my favorite, Art Deco.   

They also have some very cool rococo stuff, such as this crib for the Duke of Burgundy.  

Of course, this being France, I could not figure out where the exhibits began.  I did the whole museum backward,  ending up at the entry hall where I could have gotten an audio guide. I muddled through on my own. 
Happily, the elevator was working this morning. I got reprimanded by a shopkeeper for allowing Ellie to piddle near her entry. Since it’s been raining all day, I failed to see the problem, but I offered the generic “je suis desolee”which is the French equivalent of a “get out of jail free” card. 

Lovely pistachio mini-eclair at a patisserie. Later meeting up with a new acquaintance for dinner. 

Paris day 2

My friend Christian arrived last night from Bordeaux and we (Ellie included) had an outstanding dinner at a tiny restaurant with an open kitchen. Pleurottes (wild mushroom), veal Normand (with lots of cream) and dauphinois potatoes (butter, cheese). Christian selected the wine, a white burgundy that was new to me and a revelation. (See photo)  

We worked all that off today, walking about 6 km or almost 4 miles. Ellie and I took a walk in the Tuileries, then Christian joined us for a light lunch at my apartment. We then walked around, past my old stomping grounds of the palais-royale and the old bibliotheque nationale–the new one has moved across the river and is not nearly as romantic as the classic structure I spent months in while researching my dissertation many years ago. 

We were headed toward Place de la Bourse where there was a small afternoon market. Bought some nice Moroccan food for dinner. Coming home, we wandered into one of the hidden passages, the 19th century precursor to the shopping mall (photo).   

Early bed tonight. Both Ellie and I are exhausted. Unfortunately, just learned the elevator is out of service and Ellie still needs a walk.