Yesterday I went to Mougins for lunch to meet some Sussex friends who had a villa there. Cyrille picked me up and was his normal, informative self. He told me the croissant originated in Vienna during the siege by the Turks when a baker heard the vibrations of the invading army tunnelling. This was staved off and he created the croissant, a crescent so not a western icon, to celebrate.
The Riviera is regarded as a beautiful coastline, rightly so, but has also exquisite villages perched in the hillside like Eze, St Paul de Vence, and Mougins. Mougins was the last resting and creative place of Picasso and today has many art workshops. A hedge fund billionaire built a new art museum and too over a restaurant. The most famous restaurant here is the Moulin de Mougins one of the most expensive in the region. It was closed and my friends and I dined at the less fancy but excellent Mediterranee on fish soup and bream washed down by a bottle of Pouilly Fume. My pal ran a large publishing company successfully and was influential at both Brighton and Hove FC and Sussex CCC. His bonhomie disguised a clever financial and business brain. Like many he has settled well in this region whilst retaining his Sussex home. His wife is a relaxed friendly type well known for her taste and they had decorated their villa in the Provençal style beautifully. I recall in the seventies staying at a villa in Eze owned by a Midlands industrialist. On opening the kitchen cupboard we found canned baked beans and tinned soup. My friends had embraced the French life style more fully.
There are aspects of this style which are irritating. Today was designated a day of strike. As ever the air traffic controllers came out along with teachers and bus drivers. It’s more a case of flexing the muscles than any specific grievance. Cyrille said that country never had a Mrs Thatcher or Ronald Reagan to confront the issue and the government always backs down.
Les girls are leaving tomorrow so we had the last supper at a restaurant suggested by Jocleyn, the friend if Daffers, in the flower market called Safari. Jocelyn said it was patronised by the Nice far right. We saw in the interior two tables of about 8 men talking vociferously. The grandaughter of Jean Marie le Pen Marechal is France’s youngest MP and an ascending political star. She was only narrowly beaten by Christian Etsrosi, a Sarkozy man, for the Nice mayorship. The food was typically Nicois and I ate a delicious meat stew served on ravioli a local dish, as Daffers would say “scrumptious”.
It does not seem 14 days ago that we were all arriving at Nice airport ….