Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Stepping Out of my Nest onto the Cote d'Azur!

I look out from the aeroplane window as it sweeps around the azure bay on our approach to Nice airport. The facade of colourful buildings lining its shoreline gleams like the jewels of a decadent necklace, perhaps once worn by one of the many film stars, who made the Cote d'Azur their play ground, since the early 1920s.

In the hills above the town a weekend nest awaits me, where a table sits under an ancient olive tree, ready to shelter me from the heat of the Mediterranean sun. Once again, my daughter, determined to stretch my horizons, has arranged this wonderful weekend as this year's Mothers' Day treat! (You can read about last year's treat in my blog, 'Nesting in a Medici Hunting Lodge').

Arriving at the airport, my husband and I share a warm embrace with Katie and Olivier.  Already relaxing into their holiday, they are quick to whisk us off through palm tree-lined streets, to start our weekend in style, with an ice-cream at the Lido by the Promenade des Anglais.

Le Negresco
Later that evening, as we leave our nest in the hills, Katie and I make an extra effort to look stylish, stepping out onto the Boulevards, where glamorous figures like Bardot gave Nice the name of  'the playground of the rich and famous'.  Of course, we are neither rich nor famous, but one can always dream! And dream we do, as we saunter into the decadent hotel, 'Le Negresco' and savour its extensive collection of art, before sharing a cocktail in the bar, serenaded by a devilishly handsome young pianist in a tuxedo.

The Maeght Foundation
Day two finds us driving through the hills to Saint-Paul de Vence, one of the oldest medieval towns on the French Riviera, where we stop off at 'The Maeght Foundation' nearby. This amazing place houses one of the most important collections of modern art in Europe. Wandering arm in arm with Katie, we lose ourselves in its serenity, lulled by the song of the cicadas and intoxicated by the rich history of art that wraps itself around us. Finally, finding ourselves on the roof, we dare to stare down through the trees to the Mediterranean below and I think to myself, could it be, that somewhere inside I am falling in love with this magical place?

On our last night, sitting around the table in the shade of the ancient olive tree, my head is filled with images of hilltop villages overlooking the sea. Glitzy resorts like Cannes and St.Tropez, their vibrant colours reflected in works of art by Picasso, Matisse and C├ęzanne, complete the intoxicating heady mix of all that is the Cote d'Azur. In front of me, the table is laid with bowls of fresh herb salads, olives and tomatoes of every colour, from our trip to the market this morning.  As darkness falls, the sound of laughter around the table, under the stars in the hills above Nice, will return to me in my empty nest, along with the magic and colours of this beautiful place.

Chateau Noir Oil Painting by Paul Cezanne

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