Ten Ways You Know You’re in the South of France

July 5, 2017

Flourishing figs and the radio’s startling stories. Our pooch’s newly elevated lifestyle, and the famous French bise. They’re all simple, run-of-the-mill pieces of a Côte d’Azur day. . . and yet. We’re summertime regulars, and these ten quirks still catch me out.

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The Côte d’Azur: Our Ritual Return

June 27, 2017

You’d think that by now, after nearly 12 years owning the same home in the South of France, we’d have our annual summer return down pat. Bellevue’s air-conditioner would blow steadily. The WIFI would stand at the ready, and the rosé would sit on ice. How silly we are.

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Unexpected Email: Bellevue’s Earliest Residents

July 22, 2016

French Lessons receives an unexpected gift: an out-of-the-blue email that introduces us to the earliest residents of our seaside home, Bellevue. After years of research and forged connections, often from unlikely places, we introduce readers to the family who may have been Bellevue’s first occupants.

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The European Union Laid Bare by a Spare Part

July 8, 2016

Bellevue’s air-conditioning is again on the fritz, but this time the repairman doesn’t fire us. Instead, along with an ingenious and swifter-than-merited resolution, he offers French Lessons an unconventional glimpse into the inner workings of the European Union.

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Bellevue: A Tale of Two 10-Year Olds

August 21, 2015

When my daughter Lolo tags along on a visit to elderly friends, we compare the lives of two 10-year-old girls living within the walls of our home, Bellevue – stories that are separated by a full 75 years. An iPad and a runaway apple remind us of today’s prosperity.

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It’s a Wrap: Summer 2014 in the Côte d’Azur

August 29, 2014

French Lessons looks back at the highlights of Summer 2014 in the Côte d’Azur as Bellevue’s occupants declare they are utterly exhausted from all the fun. In many ways this summer was like no other – and yet we discern a few conspicuous and intriguing themes that have endured this summer as in the past.

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Antibes Remembered: The Joy of French Food

August 22, 2014

On this 70th anniversary of Antibes’ Libération from its occupying forces, French Lessons offers a taste of everyday life in Antibes during World War II through the lens of one basic and cherished commodity. We dive into Antibes’ municipal archives and gather residents’ distant memories about food. Then as now, it remains a pillar of French life.

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Côte d’Azur Property: Hot, or Not?

July 18, 2014

A Côte d’Azur property magazine arrives in Bellevue’s postbox, offering rare vistas and gobsmacking price tags. As talk about real estate never seems to simmer down, French Lessons slips into a quick bout of “property shopping” ourselves on the Cap d’Antibes – but a notable local visitor puts the area’s property craze into perspective.

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Bellevue: On the Heels of World War II

August 9, 2013

A postscript in the story of Bellevue:  A local man who grew up within our grande dame by the sea pays us a visit.  He brings stories from the end of World War II, when daily meals were created from the simplest ingredients and, down in Bellevue’s gardens, German prisoners of war performed a most relentless and dangerous task.

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Monaco’s Fête Picasso: The Art of Fashion

July 19, 2013

Monaco’s latest Picasso exhibition marries over a hundred masterpieces with a retrospective of his time spent in our hometown of Antibes.  When not enthralled by the truly remarkable dress sense of other visitors to today’s preview, French Lessons tumbles, Alice-style, down a rabbit hole of enchantment considering how the celebrated artist may have interacted with our Bellevue.

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Saving Bellevue: The Skyrocketing French Wealth Tax

June 22, 2013

Thanks to the Socialists’ sweep to power in France, an enormous surge in Bellevue’s tax bill threatens to terminate our family’s long association with the Côte d’Azur.  An unlikely triumvirate heads to the courts.  Can a fidgety, wild-haired tax accountant, a property expert with a posh surname and a long-lost-cousin Quebecker win back our cherished Bellevue?

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Antibes and World War II: Two Tales of a City

August 23, 2012

In a much-anticipated post, French Lessons conjures up people and stories from Antibes’ part in World War II as they are remembered – or forgotten – in modern times.  From inconspicuous plaques and unmarked addresses to monuments erected with intent, the city’s connection with résistants, artillery bunkers and a wartime submarine rests just beneath the surface.

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