By Katherine Harvey
Termites. Itsy bitsy conical piles of powder-fine sawdust under the piano bench and teensy-weensy holes up and down the four black lacquered legs. Not exactly a welcome sight but there it is. One does tend to ignore these things hoping beyond hope that it is not happening but then with a piano bench you have visions of ending up in a heap on the terra cotta floor while playing a Bach prelude and fugue from book two of the Well-Tempered Clavier. A trip to the hardware store and the purchase of Xylophene and a paintbrush later, the attack begins; the winner is not in doubt. And so begins another week filled with unexpected adventure in Antibes.
We had fiber installed a week or so ago and are quite pleased since now we have Wi-Fi in the whole house without boosters. Getting fiber from Orange, our provider, is a multi-step process as are many things here. The steps are specific: first, you receive a notice that fiber is available to you and you are requested to call a certain number. As it turns out, the woman who interviewed me (I do not use the term lightly) could not have been nicer. Reading from her script, the interviewer assured me that we would have no internet problem ever again in foul weather because the fiber is underground. Well, I suppose that is the case most of the time but that certainly is not the case for us. We have a new box attached to our house (it is the one with the green labels; the locked door leads to the back of our oven. I have no idea so don’t ask.) and wires coming in over the back door, along a wall then under the stairs, around a corner, and into the living room. I am sure the woman has no idea what it is like in Antibes where
there are wires strung everywhere from building to building and across streets. After the material is installed (we now have a very sleek remote) it is necessary to return the old Livebox, decoder, remote, and other material some of which we never used. The Orange store is not too far away so we quite naturally thought we would return the material to the Orange store and that would be the end of it. Not a chance. Orange sends a label, we supply the box. An internet search informed me that Maison Bremond 1830, an upscale shop selling olive oil and other Mediterranean treats just on the other side of the market not far down the rue Sade would accept the package. To my knowledge, we do not have this sort of system in the US but it works here. I had recently purchased a lovely olive wood dish at Maison Bremond 1830 so I merrily went in and asked if I could purchase a box at the post oﬃce. The answer was “NO” because a box purchased at the post oﬃce would have to be sent a specific way, not the way that our old material needed to be sent. And we did not know how we would receive the return label. The label finally arrived by post so we patched together the box that the new material had come in, threw in the old material, taped it up, attached the label, and set oﬀ under a gentle drizzle.
Maison Bremond 1830 is one of three Mediterranean-style shops brought
together by Olivier Baussan, the founder of l’Occitane en Provence and Oliviers & Co. All three sell the highest quality products including soap, body creams and cleansers, olive oil, flavored vinegar, delicious jams, and more, and can be found in many towns in France and the US.
Down the road in Golfe Juan trouble is brewing again. A few years ago the French government decided it was time to enforce a long-standing law that nothing could be built on public land which meant that many well-loved beach restaurants would be demolished. The most famous restaurant that had to be demolished was Tétou which was world-renowned for its bouillabaisse. During the Cannes film festival, it was impossible to get a reservation if you were not an A-lister and it was hard to get a reservation at any time anyway. Robert de Niro begged the French government not to demolish this shrine to fish soup but to no avail. Down it came to the distress of many who will long remember the one question asked when you sat down,” Avec ou sans?”, meaning did you want your bouillabaisse with or without lobster.
Bouillabaisse at Tétou was served in the classic style: after you were shown with great ceremony the fish that would be sacrificed for your bouillabaisse (usually three diﬀerent ones), a large tureen of steaming hot fish soup was brought to the table with a plate on top. The fish would be filleted in front of you one at a time resulting in multiple courses of the diﬀerent fish, each serving of fish replacing the previous plate on top of the soup tureen. An overturned plate covered the fish to keep it warm; someone at the table was designated to serve. While you waited for this glorious meal to be brought to the table you had ample time to prepare for its arrival rubbing cloves of garlic on croutons to float in the soup topped by golden red rouille, a mayonnaise-like mixture of olive oil, saﬀron, and cayenne pepper. Some believe that shredded Gruyere cheese should be generously sprinkled over the floating intruders. There is so much debate over what fish and/or shellfish make a true bouillabaisse I will not get into it.
Now the problem is what a developer wants to do with Tétou’s former parking lot which was across the street from the restaurant between the road and the railroad tracks. An apartment between a busy road and
railroad tracks does not seem like the most desirable place to build a low-rise apartment building, but someone seems to think it is a good idea. The neighbors across the tracks don’t like the idea but for other reasons: they will lose their sea view and the underground parking will cause floods during heavy rain which happens with some regularity here. The mayor has made no comment and it will be interesting to see how this ends.
There is no talk of building a restaurant there in case you were wondering.
We have a new neighbor on the landing leading to the stairs to the market: Dr. Smoke, a national franchise; CBD is what is sold and they will gladly make home deliveries.
Antibes has a number of museums including the Picasso Museum, the Peynet Museum of Humoristic Art, the Archaeologic Museum which currently has an exposition on wine, and the Post Card Museum which I admit I have never visited but perhaps I will for my next dispatch. Now there is something billed as Espace Cultural or Cultural Space. Currently, the exposition is worked by Tobiasse and it is wonderful although not everyone is pleased that the former community center where Yoga, piano lessons, and exercises classes took place has changed.
Tobiasse painted on anything: bicycles, refrigerators, cars. For him, the drawing was, before everything, “the symphony around which the orchestra of colors is installed”. His use of light was influenced by Rembrandt whose works he viewed in Amsterdam in the ’60s. He traveled widely and made Saint Paul de Vence his home in France. I am including a few photos of his diverse oﬀerings.
The blockbuster expo this summer is not surprisingly at the Fondation Maeght in Saint Paul de Vence; it includes all the artist members of the famously artistic Giacometti family. We went with a friend who used to have a gallery across from the Picasso Museum here in Antibes and now has a gallery with her son in Saint Paul across from the Colombe d’Or only steps from the pétanque pitch where Yves Montand played boules with the locals. We had lunch in the storied Colombe d’Or’s shaded garden which is always a delight; we each had lobster salad, shared a summer truﬄe salad drizzled with local olive oil, and enjoyed a lovely chilled bottle of the private label rosé. After lunch, we took the obligatory walk around the picturesque perched village and then headed home to Antibes.
Our favorite feline, Igloo, has yet to show his whiskers this summer and Iris seems to prefer to stay inside with the AC. One of our neighbors used to have a Bernese Mountain Dog who would take naps in the sun on the hottest days; she is very much missed. Our little square is in need of some animal animation and our neighbor’s twin ginger cats Susie and Billie wistfully look out the window hoping to make new friends but to no avail.
STOP PRESS!!! MEOW!!! Just as we were walking out the door for a fish lunch in Golfe Juan today, there lay Igloo like a pasha, waiting for behind the ear scratches and a warm welcome. All’s right with the world.