Summer 2011

A Smartphone in France: Bon Courage

June 12, 2011

My first task in this summer’s return to the Côte d’Azur is to purchase a local carte SIM for my new iPhone 4.  A trip to any phone company, of course, hardly comes without heart-pumping anxiety – and that’s especially true when you’re an American woman discussing brand spanking new cellular technology with a Frenchman.  In a foreign language.

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To Tutoyer or Not To Tutoyer

June 22, 2011

How can the tiny word “tu” cause so many problems for foreigners in France?  I’m suddenly invited into this special world where some locals prefer I call them “you” in the familiar sense.  But their encouragement is fraught with pitfalls – social, grammatical and otherwise.  I’ve been warned:  Once you start using “tu”, you can never go back.

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Bellevue: What’s Her Story?

July 1, 2011

Part 1 in the story of Bellevue:  Since purchasing Bellevue in 2005, tales about our grande dame by the sea have surfaced from locals and long-time visitors to Antibes.  I now embark on a mission to learn her story.  Do Bellevue’s roots really trace back to the notable, centuries-old Muterse family – and relatedly, to the famed author Guy de Maupassant?

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American Independence at the Extraordinary Domaine la Dilecta

July 6, 2011

Following years of fascination with Domaine la Dilecta, an enormous estate at the top of Cap d’Antibes, Philippe, Lolo and I are invited to a party there on the Fourth of July.  Scouting out its web of rooms (under the guise of a mother searching for her young daughter), I wonder whether anyone knows it’s a big American holiday.

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Bellevue: An Investigative Trip to Le Bosquet

July 15, 2011

Part 2 in the story of Bellevue:  Philippe and I try to track down a local octogenarian who, of anyone in town, might know the story of our Bellevue.  We hop on our bikes to his home at Le Bosquet, the property up the hill that – intriguingly – was once inhabited by the notable Muterse family.

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Bellevue: An Answer – and a Surprising New Connection

July 22, 2011

Part 3 in the story of Bellevue:  An affable telephone call with a storytelling octogenarian answers our questions about the origins of our Bellevue.  But that’s only the beginning of our home’s story.  A remarkable connection unearths a woman who lived within the walls of our grande dame as a child – during the war.

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Bellevue: Life During World War II

July 30, 2011

Part 4 in the story of Bellevue:  An elderly woman is reunited with Bellevue, the home of her childhood, prompting a resurgence of memories about her family’s daily life here, playdates at the neighbouring movie star’s house, her connection with the Muterse family, and the gut-wrenching requisition of Bellevue by invading Italians.

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Bellevue: The Story of Antibes’ Uncle

August 12, 2011

Part 5 and the final installment in the story of Bellevue:  The grandnephew of the man who gave life to our grande dame by the sea reveals her creator’s character, his penchant for fun, the devastation wreaked on him by World War I and his initial motivation for building Bellevue – even if she wasn’t always known by this name.

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Côte d’Azur Economics: The Gelato Index

August 19, 2011

As the world streams out of the Côte d’Azur, the peak season is over – or did it ever begin this year?  Lousy markets and cooler temps may have hit swimsuit sales and hairstyling, but the Riviera’s famed luxury has galloped merrily alongside the downturn.  What better way to gauge the future than gelato?

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Double Vision: The End of a Cap d’Antibes Summer

August 26, 2011

While French Lessons has one foot rooted in the Côte d’Azur and the other pointing toward a Toronto rentrée, stratospheric property gossip and megayacht quarrels form a fitting finale to the season.  Meanwhile visits by the so-called Little Mouse, midnight skinny dippers and a heartwarming postscript to the story of Bellevue make this summer unforgettable.

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