Local color

I don’t know about you guys but I’m tired of hearing about my arm. So for a change of pace I thought I would enumerate my trip to the market today. In the photo, noir de crimeė (Black Crimean) tomatoes, which are calLed purple Cherokees in the green market and are not available there till August. Fresh strawberries from Carpentras, a ringer–Moroccan blueberries– a tart stuffed with mushrooms and socca chips (a local specialty made with chickpeas). Not shown, 2 types of fresh ravioli, one stuffed with daube (stewed beef) and the other with tapenade. Not a bad haul for the second day of spring. 


That is what the French call physical therapy which is performed by a kinephysiotherapiste. It has an unfortunate overtone of something from Mao’s China but I suppose it’s no more unfortunate than “rehabilitation”. In any event I had my first session on Monday and then again today. I’m supposed to be going four times a week with half to be done in the water and half on dry land. So far I am satisfied. The therapists appear to be competent. But the best part is the price: €20 Per session. This is not my deductible-this is the entire cost. I would pay more in the US just for my deductible. 

Other than that I have been leading a fairly normal life. Going to the market, buying wine, having meals with friends. Saturday Marie and I attended a quite good concert at the local library consisting of a piano trio and a singer doing Cole Porter standards. This was after having had lunch in the port with another friend. So as you can see even with half an arm lacking, my life has resumed a pleasant level of normality.

1 1/2 arms

Well it’s official. No more cast. I saw the surgeon yesterday and the bones are healing as they should be and I have no more need of a cast. Now I start the long slog to what the French call reeducation, that is, physical therapy.

As per usual in France physical therapy is complicated. Elisabetta gave me the name of a place where you can work in water (balneotherapie). I called this morning and got an answering machine and left my number and never heard back. I called again several more times. Finally I went over there and waited 15 minutes for someone to show up at the front desk. She couldn’t make an appointment because the computer was down. So I have to try again tomorrow.

But I’m not bothered. I’m so happy to be free of my cast that I’m dancing in the street figuratively. The surgeon was very pleased with my range of motion but wants it to improve as do I. Right now I can cut my food with my right hand but I can’t get the fork to my mouth. I can carry a small amount of weight (say, my keys) but nothing as heavy as a wine bottle. Happily, that is what the covered shopping wagons are for. But then I can’t hold Ellie’s leash. Still, progress is being made. 

I checked out another apartment today. Not as charming but better located. Nice 9th floor terrace. Speaking of which I receive my order from Amazon today of a chaise longue for my terrace. Sorry to rub it in when I know you guys are frozen solid.

Americans in Nice

  Saturday I went with Marie to an exhibition and lecture (in French) on the history of Americans in Nice. Who knew that Thomas Jefferson spent a week here on his way to Italy and fell in love with a local wine, which he imported at great expense to Monticello? Or that JP Morgan’s first wife was treated by an American TB specialist here. (She died anyway.) why did Americans come? For their health, for sporting activities, for the art/culture that centered here (some may recall from the movie that Isadora Duncan died here when her scarf was caught in the wheel of a Bugatti). And after the world wars, the army sent them here for R&R. I particularly liked this quote from one of those stationed here: 

For those who missed this comment from Betsy Werley, here is another great quote: “as the wonderful author Suzanne Braun Levine says about different phases of life “we’re not who we were, just older – we become different people.” 

What I love about Nice

Even the McDonalds has a sea view

It’s been a busy week. I can’t even remember everything I’ve been doing but the high points have been solving the bank account problem and possibly finding a long-term rental. The problem with bank accounts in France is that you need proof of your address in order to open one but you need a bank account in order to rent an apartment. We have solved this by the expedient of declaring Marie’s apartment as my own which Marie has attested to. The potential rental is in an art nouveau building with a garden for Ellie. Nothing is assured but it would be a good solution.

I’m not in doubt about the wisdom of moving to Nice on a long-term basis. (Don’t worry, American friends, I still plan to spend time there.) Yes, the French can be officious, the bureaucracy is out of control, and medical care not up to New York standards. But it has the advantages of a big-ish city–thousands of restaurants (most of them mediocre, but enough good ones), shops, a bustling street life. It is international–my new banker is a Bulgarian who speaks perfect English, my potential landlords are a gay Swedish couple, my friends are Irish and Italian and French and American. There are already local strawberries and asparagus in the market, which always offers local olives and cheese and charcuterie from Corsica. But the most important reason is that I’m happy here. I am not my usual bitchy, impatient self. Is it the climate? Certainly day after day of sunshine improves one’s mood. But it’s also the lifestyle of the Mediterranean. Life is slower, people are mostly friendly, there is always time to meet for coffee or an apero. It is a bit like California with a better climate (cooler than LA, warmer than SF) and less traffic. I’m struggling to explain my Joie de vivre to myself as well as you. I just know that when I first moved to New York I knew it’s where I belonged. And now that’s how I feel about Nice. 


Yesterday I had five guests over, so my first one armed party. Noel had some family in from Dublin and invited sunny and myself-and of course Ellie-to lunch at a nearby restaurant. I suggested we come back here for coffee and dessert and more wine. Happily I had just bought some good cheese and had a baguette in the freezer. My guests bought pastries on the way back. And so we proceeded to have a fabulous afternoon, mostly telling stories and laughing a great deal. My guests even did the dishes-probably the easiest party I’ve ever organized.

Escape from my prison

Have I mentioned that I now can get out of my bionic arm and have a little relief from the constant pressure. Only at home because the arm is too vulnerable when I’m outdoors. In addition, I had my first public event-not counting restaurant meals which have been plentiful. Today Marie and I went to a concert where we heard Christian Tetzloff perform Brahms violin concerto. Despite a bit of discomfort, the performance was outstanding and I didn’t leave until midway through check Koski’s (Tchaikovsky’s) fourth symphony. It was a very pleasant day.

Adventures in Nice

So my life has been boiledl down to its essentials: eating, drinking, and taking Ellie out for walks. Today our routine was disrupted by a broken elevator. There was no way I was taking Ellie down five flights of curvy marble steps. There was no way to carry her and I wasn’t sure footed enough to even risk it on my own. So I started making calls. Everyone I called was happy to help but no one was immediately available. Eventually Noel got here just as the repairman finished. So crisis resolved.

Later I met Elisabetta on the promenade des Anglais and ran into Marie by chance at the same time. We all had lunch together at a church, in the crypt, where for €11 we had a three course meal which included a charitable contribution to feed the hungry. It was quite tasty.