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A la Colthard

Like Bob, I always look forward to the annual Rust pilgrimage to Nice with girlie expectation. We might even start another great Rust debate as to the merits or otherwise of visiting the same place. On one hand, we all know Nice well as this is our third time but on the other as life draws on there are still new, visited places to savour and explore. The Tickler method of rental means you are always free to go elsewhere as owner of foreign properties – whether they admit or not – do feel an obligation  to revisit. There is the half-way house of ownership/rental but this comes at a price: When do you choose to stay? Who is going to run the  place in your absence? Will you suffer in the euro/sterling exchange? What rights will  Britons have post Brexit in particular regarding health?

First a quick wrap up on the three restaurants we visited do far:


 Always a fave of mine for fish: it’s situated in a pedestrian shopping street right in the centre so no sea view.

The welcome was bit offhand but I am afraid this comes with la territoire as this will not be the first time I complain. The French do not always do customer service.

We had the Royal Sea Food Platter: expensive but a good way to enjoy langoustines, lobster,oysters, even tortoise washed down with creamy St Veran.

There was even space for the divine desert of meringue, chocolate and chantilly served in a vase  a particular favourite of Polly’s best friend Grania.

la Maderne

We chose this for Valerie. It’s a typical old town restaurant. It was full on arrival so we returned 30 minutes later. It’s minuscule with two rows of tables and Bob was obliged to perch on a stool like an obese milkmaid.

Three men were on the table next to us  and I could not but avoid their conversation. One appeared to be a surgeon and I don’t really want to learn about keyhole surgery over the meal, the restaurant  only took cash – another oddity of the region – but did ban mobiles. The food was delicious particularly the daube.

Le Grand Balcon

Here we encountered the worst example of the French being difficult. We went after the morning shop in the wonderful open market to book as Michel de Vacri had invited us to his box at the Opera next door the restaurant which has a theatrical decor.

The manager was adamant that the restaurant could and would not open before before 7 pm whilst we tried to explain that the curtain went up at 8.00 pm. His resistance and obduracy was total.

The opera Romeo and Juliet was fully sold out and ended at 11.00 so they missed out on opera-going diners. This said the food there is always reliable. We arrived at 7 pm and there was no sign of life. The waitress said they were not yet open until Bob showed his watch showing 7.03. Bob’s 10 euro tip may have done the trick  but they thawed sufficiently to wish us an enjoyable evening when they  showed us out.

Romeo and Juliet

 I am no opera buff but everyone knows the most famous love story in literature.

At boarding school we studied Shakespeare’s play for O level so we managed to persuade our English teacher to see Franco Zefferelli’s film starring Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey as the star crossed lovers and we even got a peek of Leonard Whiting’s bum.

The sheets in the dormitory were rustling that night!!!

Every generation updates the story most memorably in West Side Story. It was Valerie’s first trip to the Opera. It proved an inspired choice as it was an animated production.

I do feel that acting lets opera down but the drop-dead gorgeous blonde soprano cast as Juliet, Vannina Santori, had Bob perched on his seat. She certainly subscribed to the method school of acting when, in the love scene, she wrapped her thighs around her Romeo, Mexican tenor Jesus Leon.

Although Bob had an incident with a bossy usher who told him he could not take his champagne flute to a different level at the interval to the loo, of which there was only one, we liked the grand Opera House and the custom of throwing on stage white roses at the end.

The best approval rating was Bob never fell asleep – his eyes were glued on the lovely Vannina. Our opera critic messaged me that our admiration for the production was no surprise and that the staging was so good as the director was Irina Brook, the daughter of Peter Brook. Valerie loved it. Operas like the story of Romeo and Juliet much continually adapt for each generation.

If that involves modern dress and a virtual sex scene behind a shroud….bring it on!!!!




Daphne Colthard
About Daphne Colthard

After graduating at RADA but finding no roles Daphne went into magazine journalism with Good Housekeeping. Widely recognised as one of the country's leading restaurant and hotel reviewers, particularly by herself, Daphne is the author of "Bedded and Breakfasted", a light hearted chick novel and Grand Hotels DC: the Daffers Dictionary. Daphne lives in West London and is married to an investment banker Oliver. They have 2 boys Humphrey and Tarquin. More Posts