Melanie and Katherine in Antibes 

By Katherine Harvey


It was a perfect storm: I would be in Antibes without Julian for  two weeks in January and the owner of the charming rental  house a three minute walk out our back door was making the  property available at a special rate since it was offseason and  would otherwise be empty. We only had a few days and I wanted  Melanie to get an idea of what Antibes and the area in general  was like so it all had to be planned with precision; I chose  carefully and it worked.


Maeght Sculpture Garden


My classmate from boarding school, Melanie, and I had  discussed her coming to Antibes sometime and this just fell into  place. Melanie arrived in Nice on the Friday afternoon after  Epiphany and was picked up by Didier, our faithful livery driver,  who is many things: a former paramedic, a DJ wannabe, former  army truck driver, devoted lover of Chrome Hearts jewelry and a  biker complete with Yorkie named Fat Boy and more tattoos than  you can count, two daughters and a devoted wife who used to  have an organic cosmetics boutique. Didier’s tales of Hog  conventions have entertained us for years, especially the time  there was a violent wind storm and all the merchandise from the  concessions was blown away never to be seen again.


Pol Bury Fountain


The house was not ready when Melanie arrived so we sat on my  terrace overlooking the Mediterranean while she had a late lunch  (she was astounded when I told her I had cooked the lamb). We then strolled over to Tom’s spacious house complete with  Nespresso coffeemaker, dishwasher and laundry (although I doubt Melanie would be making use of these facilities) and any  other necessity for a pleasant stay. I left her to get settled. The  evening consisted of cocktails (rosé champagne, our house pour)  on our terrace and dinner at the charming restaurant (L’Arazur)  hidden behind the main street whose chef also has a gourmet  shop in the new part of town. The chef is a member of the elite  Jeune Restaurateurs (JRE) which is what the name suggests,  young restaurateurs; there are 28 in France, three of them in  Antibes.


Village of Saint-Paul-de-Vence


Saturday morning after a walk through the famous market only  steps from our houses, it was off to Saint Paul de Vence and two  thirds of what I call the “Perfect Day” which consists of a visit to  the Fondation Maeght and its spectacular view from the hills  down to the sea and naturally the extraordinary art collection of  20th century and contemporary art highlighted by the sculpture  garden entrance with rotating sculptures from the collection  including Calder, Moore and Louise Bourgeois and the famous  Pol Bury fountain. Showcased on the Giacometti terrace are to  be found the Walking Man, Standing Woman, and Large Head  and around the corner the Miro garden and fountains surrounding  Sert’s signature architecture and Julian’s favorite, the Braque  pool “The Fish”. Not to be missed was the Saint-Bernard Chapel  with the stained glass window by Georges Braque.  


Village of Saint-Paul-de-Vence – Pebble paved streets


My dear friend Veronique who used to have the gallery across  from the Picasso Museum in Antibes picked us up at the  Fondation and took us to the perched village of Saint Paul de  Vence where we had lunch, taking the long route to enjoy the  extraordinary view of the countryside below Saint Paul. Lunch in Saint Paul to me is the second part of the perfect day but to  make it truly perfect the second part has to be lunch at the  Colombe d’Or across from the pétanque pitch where Yves  Montand would while away the hours playing boules with the  locals. Unfortunately the Colombe d’Or was closed for their  annual vacation but we were able to take a peek into the famous  terrace where we have lunch at least once every summer, with  everyone always ordering the lobster salad and two green salads  with summer truffles for the table. 


La Colombe d’Or Exterior


La Colombe d’Or Terrace


After lunch and a walk around the steep pebble paved streets of  Saint Paul and the endless art galleries with glossy giant cherries,  Disney characters and nudes galore we stopped at the elegant  Maison Godet which takes you back to a romantic time in 1921  when the perfume house was founded but had vanished until  Sophie, great granddaughter of the founder, gave it new life in  2017 after she discovered her grandfather’s collection of perfume  bottles. Now revived with both original and new scents,  irresistible perfumed pastel colored soaps with flowers in high  relief, creams and candles are again available including “Folie  Blue” a scent with rose, jasmine and cedar wood made famous by  Henriette Darricarrere, the muse of Henri Matisse. Recently the  Maison Godet created “Le Negresco”, a perfume exclusively  available at the famous Hotel Negresco in Nice. We visited the  grave of Henri Matisse, each of us leaving the obligatory stone on  top of it and then Veronique, taking the scenic route through the  woods, dropped us off at the spare and elegant blue and white  Matisse Chapel in Vence built in gratitude to the nun who had  nursed the famous painter during his cancer recovery. Then it  was back to Antibes for a rest, cocktails on the terrace and dinner at Le Vauban, the local semi-gastronomic restaurant  whose chef is also a member of the JRE. 


Maison de Godet


Sunday it was bouillabaisse at Le Bistrot du Port in Golf Juan, the  town where Napoleon landed on his return from Elba and an  annual recreation of that event takes place. A trip to the south of  France would not be complete without bouillabaisse. There are  only two restaurants near us which serve this saffron laced  creation (the other being the Maison de Bacon now under new  ownership which closes for January and February as do many  establishments after Epiphany making planning a bit tricky) as  two others were demolished because of the law that states the  coastline belongs to the people. There was a big blow up about  the demolition of Tetou with Robert De Niro leading the charge  but the law is the law and so Tetou was demolished. There are  many bouillabaisse camps, some insisting that there are only  certain fish that can be used, some insisting shellfish and  bivalves can be tossed in but no matter what camp you choose  to support, the silky saffron soup with at least four different kinds  of fish, the garlic rubbed croutons that you prepare and float on  the soup topped with “rouille” which is called that due to its rust  color saffron mayonnaise are standard and help make the dish  the heavenly treat that it is. After lunch a visit to the Picasso  Museum where the famous artist lived for nine months creating  dozens of works just steps from my house with its extensive  collection of his ceramics created at Madoura in nearby Vallauris  and the painting by another famous resident of Antibes, Nicolas de Stael, “Le Concert” was a must along with some time on the  herb planted sculpture terrace overlooking the sea with works by  Giacometti, Richier and Louise Bourgeois among others. We then sat on my terrace for what was left of the afternoon with  cocktails and a light dinner in the market. 


Matisse Chapel


Monday was a white table cloth lunch on the beach in Cannes at  La Mome Plage. La Mome (the kid) was the nickname of Edith  Piaf but surprisingly the restaurant group is named after Suzanne  Vreurick who was a flower seller then singer in 1920’s Paris who  married very well and became known as La Mome Moineau; she  and her husband spent time in their Villa Bagatelle in Cannes  giving lavish parties and so the identical twin brothers from Lyon  choose to name their group after her. The ever expanding La  Mome group has four restaurants in Cannes and a spectacular  rooftop restaurant at the Hotel Port Palace in Monte Carlo with  views of the sea, super yachts and the Prince’s palace. Lunch at  La Meme Plage (beach) is an experience like no other with the  sea in the distance, sunbathers only meters away even in  January and the famous Croisette a short flight of stairs above.  The restaurant comes complete with DJ in homage to La Mome  which reminded us we were in Suzanne Moineau’s Cannes.  Before heading back to Antibes we had a Negroni at the recently  expanded and remolded legendary Carlton hotel. No visit to  Cannes is complete without a cocktail at The Carlton and a walk  along the Croisette and rue d’Antibes for shopping, window and  otherwise where every designer and jeweler has a boutique: Dior,  Chanel, Hermes, Cartier, Van Clef & Arpels, Bulgari and I am only  getting started.  


Picasso Museum Exterior


Picasso Museum Terrace


Didier picked up Melanie Tuesday morning at 5:30 to catch her  flight to Paris and connections back to the States. It was a wonderful long weekend with non-stop talking and rosé  champagne. I hope we can do it again.  


La Mome Plage Cannes


Igloo has moved on. It seems that when his humans went on an  extended trip they left our favorite feline with cousins in  Switzerland. It did not take our boy long to make new friends  and find new places to stalk whatever was available that day, still  disappointed that his overgrown succulent garden in Antibes had  been replaced by a cactus garden and the shade providing  dumpsters permanently removed. Switzerland had it all so he  stayed, abandoning his French fans for good. Little does Igloo  know that he has been replaced by a dog which is probably just as well.