[NOTE: A day of catching up and re-grouping in Paris during which time I am finishing and posting several pages that were under construction while we were in Nice.]
A playground for the rich and famous who arrive in their mighty yachats; a former haven for writers such as Hemingway and Fitzgerald; a jewel of a setting for artists present and past, Antibes is just a thirty minute train ride from Nice. We were charmed by its beauty from the moment we stepped away from the train station and began wandering, sans maps, towards the sea wall…stopping to take photos of yachts that were the size of small cruise ships, crossing a large courtyard where a major art show was taking place…some of the sculptures displayed upon a white granite playground. We were aiming for the Picasso Museum that is housed high above the sea in among the eight ramparts that were built to protect this small village from those who would maurade dating back to Napolean’s day…he, too found winter warmth in the sunshine there. . The museum, though small, did not disappoint. The building itself is a work of art…windows strategically placed to allow natural light to filter into the galleries; flooring of all sorts in clouding artfully styled squares of rocks ( see photo). A grand sculpture placed in an interior courtyard could be viewed from inside the museum or outside in the courtyard. There were large metal sculptures mounted high above us on the sea wall, the visita being a stone wall, the sculpture and a rather stirred up by the wind grey sea as a backgroound. Plantings in the outdoor exposition included cacti and mock orange that was in full bloom, the fragrance of the flowers a sweet surprise as we wandered along through the sculptures. Breezy, fragrant, each installation more delightful than the last, it was a full meal for the senses.
Beautifully structured doors, spotlessly clean streets. Stones of all sorts compose the walkways. In the old part of the village along the ramparts it is pedestrian traffic only, much like Villefranche, except that the streets are flat, no stairs to go up and down, always easier for me. Plantings adorn the entrances of the houses. The old village is clearly a place where there is plenty of money to take good care of the environs.
The town square was bustling with tourists, people whose working day was done, children who were finished with school for the day. People sitting outdoors in cafes, sipping wine or beer, smoking, conversing. One man gave us directions to the train station (remember, we were without maps) and another came up and said, “No, no. That is not right. It is better if you go THIS way” gesturing towards a slightly altered direction. Jan and I chuckled..another instance of them wanting the best for those who visit their neighborhood. Restaurants in France have banned cigarettes inside the dining area, but not outdoors. So if one wishes to dine “en plein air” one still must contend with smoke. And on this trip we noticed how many young people were smoking. Far, far more than I have noted in the past in France.
We were dying for tea and a sit. Kept finding places that just did not look quite right. Suddenly Jan spied the most beautiful display window of tartes, cakes, chocolates (see photo) and we entered a very lovely pâtisserie, Jean Luc Pelé Atelier which is headquartered in nearby Cannes.The apricot tarte and the pear tarte with chocolate between the pear and the pate sucree (slightly sweet crust) called to us. We each had a tart, sharing bites and oohing and ahhing about which one was better. We seated ourselves on high chairs that had pneumatic lifts on them that went whoosh as we sat down,in a hallway that was made to look like a chocolate cave. I was tempted to taste the brown wall to see if it was paint or chocolate…but I demurred…there was a sanitation issue. We laughed so much..had a welcome respite and made our way back to the train station.