|Picasso in the bar of La Colombe d'Or Image:|
Through the years, this leafy place was the daily watering hole and home-from-home for a score of artists including Picasso, Modigliani, Miro and Chagall who met with their contemporaries and presumably chatted about how brilliant it would be to draw stuff that was "scribble scrabble" or "wobbly" as my kids would say. Or painting people with huge noses and disembodied hands coming out their tummys. Pablo and his mates were poor and they paid for the meals with paintings (this was before they realised the big nose and hand-sticking-out-of-the-tummy thing would take off). The result is a small, intimate restaurant which has more major artworks than most world-class galleries.
We assumed we had to book months in advance but the streams of paparazzi and stretch limos from Cannes had vacated the streets and we were willing to take a 7.15pm table (horrifically early-bird by French standards).
|Walking up to Saint-Paul de Vence|
Like some before and given the portentiousness of the place, I thought they would spot my grubby traveller's feet and red-rope barricade us from the chic Nice crowd. But they could not have been more welcoming and it was like attending the dinner party of a fabulously wealthy friend except for the small inconvenience of paying at the end of the night. And they wrote and pronounced my name "Jeudie" which I will be insisting on henceforth.
Our waiter, Cedric, could not have been more solicitous. We warned him about our rubbish French and he took us through the menu with painstaking clarity describing the potatoes: "Excuse me for my English" he said "but how do you say Dauphinoise?" Oh that's the same in English, I explained, like Salad Nicoise. "Ah" he said, making me feel terribly clever.
I love how the French speak English - with a lilting formality that makes you feel like you are negotiating a terribly important EU treaty: "If you are in agreement" suggests Cedric: " I will move this alternative table here."
"If I may ask" Cedric enquired later: "How is the meal progressing?"
"Parfait!" I enthused with a couple of glasses of local champers under my belt, fully embracing my Franglais and barely resisting kissing my fingers.
Halfway though my excellent fish, I croaked to Kevin: "I have a fish bone stuck in my throat!" I chugged loads of water but it was still there and I was starting to get panicky. I'll have to go and choke it out in the loos, I explained to Kevin who looked quite stricken. I have never been able to make myself throw up, but needs must. On my way down the stairs I did consider asking for advice at the front desk but I suspected they would call an ambulance or at least a doctor.
I walked down the stairs with a heavy heart and disappeared inside one of the two toilets. I won't go into details but suffice to say there was choking, wee bit of howling and maybe a few tears resulting in a tiny errant fishbone in the palm of my hand. I emerged to the handbasins victorious under the gaze of two glossy Chanel-ed madames. I held my hand to my throat: "Piscine! Piscine!" I croaked. They both clutched at their silky pearls and in unison their CCed ballet flats took one step back.
I gave a joyful "bonsoir" and what I hoped was an elegant wave and returned to my half fish and refreshed glass of champers.
Cedric swept up to our table: "And...the meal's progression?" he enquired.
"Tres bon. Still parfait! " I answered again
He was like the proud Papa witnessing his first child's sentence: "Ah, so you can speak French" he said. It really was the best meal ever.
And don't forget to enter our Giveaway, a Lesley Evers dress which retails at $225. The winner will be drawn randomly this Friday 8th July.
Oh, I love your stories, Jeudie, particularly your France stories. :DReplyDelete
Ah, Jeudie, what an adventure — or perhaps misadventure. You survived to tell the tale, which is the important thing.ReplyDelete
I think you are such a beautiful writer, Jody, ahem, Jeudie. And you are such a good travel writer. I want to go wherever you are writing about, even if I've been there before!ReplyDelete
Your story reminded me of something - I speak beautiful French but only when I'm drinking champagne, isn't that weird? :) No one fully believes me until they actually witness it.
That restaurant sounds, and looks, amazing!!ReplyDelete
What a delightful post.....I feel as if I've been there with you.. although in real life I suspect I would really be red-roped away!!ReplyDelete
ps in my head I can hear Cary Grant saying Jeudie Jeudie Jeudie....not french I know but imagine someone that gorgeous saying your name whatever it was........so impressed with you removing a fish bone with such grace!
Thanks for the link, Jeudie (Thursday is your new name - with extra e!). I always talk about loos - some of the ones we visited driving through France were pitiful, hole in the ground, affairs which always surprises me about the French that this aspect of their life could be so uncivilised.ReplyDelete
Great story! Surprised you shouted 'swimming pool' when you came out of the cubicle but, hey, that worked for me!
gaah! so amazing you got to eat at that restaurant. and yes....it is always the "loos" that i remember, haha!ReplyDelete
Amazing pics dear!ReplyDelete
English does sound delicious when is spoken by French people. Love your travel stories!!ReplyDelete
I love your writing, you make me travel away with you. Hugs for that.ReplyDelete
Beautifully written....wish I was there with you !! xxReplyDelete
Beautiful story. love the post and everything what you express here! :DReplyDelete
So the Chanel-clad ladies were surprised to hear you had a swimming pool stuck in your throat? Hmmmm! Apart from hte fish bone incident, it all sounds idyllic and I am, as ever, deeply envious :)ReplyDelete
Wooow, you are so cool! I'm following you, please follow me :) This is my blog...ReplyDelete
aaah, *sigh* i love looking at your photos and reading your posts. :DReplyDelete
always love your stories. an experience you'll never forget..ReplyDelete
Jeudie, so glad I did not know this before you ordered oyster udon soup today. EGADS... You probably would have been ok. Yes?! As always, loved this piece. You had me laughing out loud once again. No "bones" about it. xoReplyDelete
I was getting excited that this restaurant my be in the Bay Area, since we are heading over for the summer. Yes, France is a wonderful place for eating. If I close my eyes I can almost take myself there. xxReplyDelete
what a well written post. i love the story and this sounds like a great place to be.ReplyDelete
Enjoyed reading this post! What a fantastic place to eat!!ReplyDelete
You could not have described the scene any more perfectly! I so hope you are writing a book Jody, your posts always make me laugh! The photos are gorgeous btw--now you have made me want to visit this restaurant in the worst way!ReplyDelete
xo Mary Jo
I always remember the bathrooms. If a bathroom is disgusting, I will not eat in the restaurant. I mean ... EW.ReplyDelete
Aw I love your stories! I wanna go to France so bad!ReplyDelete
I had to laugh out loud at your description of how the French speak English. So true!!ReplyDelete
Enjoy your weekend!
This was hilarious - one of your best yet. And had us at the inaugural Friday night Games Night at Sharon's (our other sister) speaking in French accents, with Grace Jones playing, singing along with words like croissante and cul de sac, and drinking French champagne. Check out this TED talk and why not try that 30 day write a novel challenge that happens in the US every November http://www.ted.com/talks/matt_cutts_try_something_new_for_30_days.htmlReplyDelete
Pietra: Friday night French starts now: cappucino! (oops sorry italian)louvre, enchante! Plus 30 days to write a novel? That's seems an incredibly long time to get a novel...An arvo?...now you're talking!ReplyDelete
Franglais....I love that!ReplyDelete
I'm glad you had a good time with us in St Paul.ReplyDelete
Oh, my english is way better now...
Make sure you ask for me if you ever come back here at La Colombe d'or.