#b#In a Small World: Memories of Nice#/b#
My husband, son, and I arrived in Nice, France, 10 days after a terrorist plowed a truck into the throng celebrating Bastille Day, killing 84 and wounding many more. Now heavily armed police patrolling the streets and the block-long, flower-bedecked memorial to the victims on the “Promenade des Anglais,” where the carnage took place, were the only visible reminders of this horrendous event.
The activities of the determined multitude of walkers, bikers, and joggers on the promenade indicated that, despite the tragedy, routines and daily life would continue. There was no laughter emanating from the seaside restaurants and the only spontaneous sounds were the gentle lapping of the waves against the shore and the cry of an occasional seagull.
Located on the Cote D’Azur, the south-east Mediterranean coast of France, Nice is nicknamed “Nice la Belle,” Nice the beautiful. The 4 million tourists who visit Nice every year seeking inspiration and relaxation are attracted by the city’s natural beauty and mild Mediterranean climate. As we relished the sea breeze and bright sunlight while visiting churches, museums and gardens, we well understood why the rich and famous have made and continue to make Nice their home.
After the death of Czar Nicholas I, the dowager Russian Empress Alexandra Feodorovna came to Nice in 1856 followed by members of the Russian nobility, particularly after the revolution when many Russians went into exile. The Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Nice was built between 1903 and 1912 by Czar Nicolas II as a place for the large, local Russian population to worship. (Note: Current Russian residents of Nice can often be identified by their luxury yachts in the harbor.) Queen Victoria fell in love with Nice during her first visit in 1895. She attended Holy Trinity Church where her coat of arms still hangs. (Note: The “Promenade des Anglais” owes its name to the many early English visitors and residents of the city.) On her deathbed Victoria is said to have remarked, “If I were in Nice, I would recover.”
Nice’s hotels and mansions have housed notable individuals for over 200 years. The painter Pablo Picasso lived here for many years, as did the renowned Russian playwright, Anton Chekhov. The influential philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche is said to have remarked “To be sure, there can be no more beautiful season in Nice than the current one: the sky blindingly white, the sea tropical blue, and in the night a moonlight that makes the gas lanterns feel ashamed, for they flush red.”
F. Scott Fitzgerald researched his novel, “Tender is the Night,” on the Cote D’Azur and in 1923 Coco Chanel started the fashion trend of “the tan” when sailing in the area with her lover, the Duke of Westminster, and accidentally got a sunburn.
Many contemporary personalities and celebrities visit or make Nice their home, including Queen Rania of Jordan. British rock star Elton John owns a hillside mansion above the bay. He sometimes goes antique shopping near the port or for dinner at his favorite restaurant “La Petit Maison.” Hopefully, the celebrities along with local residents and tourists will be able to once again make laughter and joy a part of the Nice experience.
Nassau Street, Princeton
#b#In Praise of Writers#/b#
I have just finished Aubrey Kauffman’s sensitive evocation, not only of the priceless art gift, but of the very person of Dave McAlpin (U.S. 1, August 10). It’s appealing, compelling, and subtly knowledgeable. The artists seem alive to Aubrey, as well as this amazing donor in our midst.
It’s marvelous to read of the circumstances in which Moonrise came into being. Having just returned from a Georgia O’Keeffe pilgrimage to Santa Fe and Taos, the cross-pollination of all these significant art figures, their constellation around Georgia, not only in Abiquiu, is very present to me. And yes, we were nightly treated to “a magnificent quality in the half light between sunset and dark.” (Not sure our east provides this quality, as does New Mexico!)
America commanded the art world in those years. Our recent research taught us that America’s artistic fame was frequently catalyzed by and evocative of the Southwest. Stieglitz did not journey there, but promulgated dramatic works resulting from Southwest experiences, in repeated “blockbuster” exhibits at his gallery.
Years ago my husband and I were privileged to travel with the Friends of the (Princeton) Art Museum to Romanesque France. Dave and Sally McAlpin were on that tour. Although the oldest, the two of them were first off the bus, even at four in the afternoon, when the rest of us were dragging. Their art curiosity and enthusiasm was an inspiration, without being in any way “entitled” or superior.
I especially appreciate Aubrey’s focus on Dave Sr. as preservationist/conservationist. Other words come to mind — including gentle teacher and enthusiast.
One of the joys of living in this town is being impacted by people as special in so many ways as the McAlpins. I can’t wait to attend that exhibit, probably with my Santa Fe/Taos travel buddies.
Carolyn Foote Edelmann
Editor’s note: Edelmann, community relations associate at the D&R Greenway, is also the author of the cover story in the August 10 issue in which Aubrey Kauffman’s piece on the McAlpin collection appeared. Edelmann’s story, “To Beat the Heat: Shady Sites, Nearby Hikes,” was praised by reader Debbie Hill, a retired New Jersey middle school teacher, who wrote: “This is the finest of nature writing. I could hear the music of bird calls and wind as I read it. How enticing these trails are made by your description of them. The article could be a narration for a travel documentary. Well done.”