If it’s Saturday, this must be Nice. In Nice with Bruce, which could be a song. And our time together so far has certainly been song-worthy.
He came from Genoa and I came from Montpellier, to meet late afternoon here, where he had rented us an airbnb flat. His trip was uneventful; mine was too until the arrival in Nice, when because of renovations, the quai was so jammed, it took 20 minutes of fighting an immense crowd to get out of the station. That’s a first – the ride okay but the station a nightmare. But at the end, my reward – Brooz, waiting.
Our flat is only a few blocks from the station and it’s spectacular – two bedrooms, comfortable beds and sofa, a wrap around balcony, windows and doors that flood the place with light, and it’s right downtown. Though we are using the humble plates in the kitchen, there are even some lovely Limoges dishes in the dining room. Lynn and Denis dine on his grandparents’ Limoges. I could get used to Limoges. Yesterday, once we had figured out various things – the locks, the stove that took Bruce half an hour on Google to figure out, the light switches, all strange and difficult – we left immediately to walk on the Promenade des Anglais in the sun with thousands of Niçois celebrating the end of the work week – though there was a pile of wilted flowers as a memorial to those killed by a terrorist in a truck not that long ago, and new work being done to make the Promenade inaccessible to cars. And of course the usual bands of very young soldiers with submachine guns, one group gathering to take a selfie.
We sat in the market square of the old city having an aperitif and getting caught up. It was late by the time we made our way home, so we picked up supper and ate in the flat, and guess what we ate – ham, cheese, bread, my staple since I arrived in Europe. Plus a salad of carottes rapées I’ve rediscovered through Lynn and artichoke hearts, for some veg. And I bought myself a grand St. Emilion for 6 euros.
Today after breakfast we set off uphill – Bruce navigating with Google maps – to the Musee Marc Chagall – both of us expecting to enjoy it, but not to be overwhelmed by this magnificent place. The museum was created especially for a series of huge biblical canvasses Chagall donated to the country at the end of his life – stunning, vivid, glorious. We watched a film about him, which made me fall in love with this gentle, playful, laughing, humble, handsome man who immortalized Jewish life. A new hero. (Click to enlarge)
The beautiful white room full of colour and peace
This was in an entire room dedicated to canvasses inspired by the Song of Solomon, which was accompanied over the headphones by Air on a G string by Bach. Of course, I wept.
An added bonus – lunch in the courtyard outside. I had, of course, salade nicoise. There was a beautiful little pure white Scottie dog wandering about, obviously very much at home and yet collarless and seemingly unclaimed. I decided it was dear Marc Chagall, keeping an eye on us all.
Another walk straight uphill to the Musee Matisse. Imagine, two of the world’s greatest artists, nearly side by side, and similar in some ways – the incredible colour, the lightness and magic, the humour and sensitivity. I’ve long adored Matisse. The museum is a bit light on product, but it’s lovely nonetheless, with not only his art but some of the artifacts he lived with, loved and painted.
We walked home, downhill all the way, passing the wedding cake buildings of Nice, pink and white, faded by the sun, with their fancy grillwork and rococo roofs and balconies. Here’s the hotel Regina, where Matisse lived for a time and so did Queen Victoria, immortalized nearby.
We stopped at my favourite store, Monoprix, to buy groceries for supper on the way home. Now BK is napping and the other BK is on the sofa in our luxurious living room, writing to you. Soon we’ll go out again, into the sun. It’s sunny but windy here, perfect, in this elegant town that has a Vancouver feel, the ocean, the fresh air, casual and free – but in a French way with more than a touch of Italian. Heaven.