It’s hard to believe that I’m leaving France today… After all, I wasn’t even supposed to be here that long. I think I may have fallen in love with its beauty and its people. The people here have really been so kind and so welcoming.
That brings me to James Baldwin. Many of his American fans have wondered why he lived between France and the United States. I believe that the answer couldn’t be summarized any simpler than with William Wordsworth’s definition of poetry as the spontaneous overflow of feelings recollected in tranquility. Of course, we all know that poetry wasn’t Baldwin’s forte, but the quote can apply to any type of creative writing. Maybe Baldwin had to leave the American chaos of intolerance to fully immerse himself in his grand imagination and in the beautiful ideas he produced.
As someone who has struggled with my writing back home, I can confidently say that getting away was the best thing for my creative mental flow. Aside from one rainy, shitty day in Europe, I have felt inspired to blog daily, sometimes even twice a day. I can only hope that this inspiration sticks with me all the way to back home in Cleveland. Gosh, I would hate for it to go away… Not many of you know this, but in addition to blogging about my travels, I also write poetry and short stories. My experiences here have helped me come up with new cool additions to the characters and plots I have created in the past and abandoned.
So anyways, Jimmy Baldwin… You have to know how much I love Jimmy Baldwin when I tell you that I sprinted down the Promenade des Anglais along the Mediterranean Sea to catch the 400 bus. The ride to Saint Paul de Vence where Baldwin once lived was an hour long and far from perfect. I stood for most of the way there and it was stuffy hot. It felt as if people were sweating on me and I was sweating on them, but I digress.
I came to Nice with Baldwin in mind. After researching about Baldwin’s house in Saint Paul de Vence, I was still confused as far as where it is and if it’s still there. I found various articles stating that the house was set for demolition and that a new development would be built there. However, I couldn’t get a straight answer if it was or wasn’t. I finally came across a blog that told me exactly where it is supposed to be. Apparently, his house was supposed to be right across from the hotel Le Hameau which ended up being on the bus route. The whole ride I kept thinking, “I hope they didn’t tear it down!!!”
Most unfortunately, once we passed the Le Hameau, the only thing I saw across the street was an empty lot filled with construction. I was certain it was the place where Baldwin’s house once stood. I was saddened, but in that instance, I finally understood why the author chose Saint Paul de Vence. The views from his house must have been immaculate!
Saint Paul de Vence is described as a village. When someone says “village,” you’re thinking cows and horses and barns and stables, right? Saint Paul de Vence is not this kind of village. Baldwin’s house would have peacefully overlooked a gorgeous mountain pass from above and the numerous charming French houses built upon a mountain. One could easily obtain tranquility that writers seek and need there.
Although Baldwin’s house is no longer there, I am still glad I went to Saint Paul de Vence. It helped answer my initial question: why the French Riviera, why Nice, and why not Marseille. Despite the beyond beauteous calanques, as the second largest city in France, Marseille would have been a little too chaotic for him.
After leaving Saint Paul de Vence, I met my new friend Jack at Coco Beach for some more sunbathing. I’m gonna be honest when I say that when you have only a few days in Nice, it’s really hard to do anything else. Instead of swimming, Jack and I got splashed by the enormous waves as we collected sea glass and searched for sea shells. If you’re looking for sand beaches, then the French Riviera is not for you. The beaches are rocky and they will hurt your feet and bother your back. For me, it was all worth it.
Jack and I got pretty hungry and headed to the La Ville de Sienne. This restaurant is located in a charming little alley. We sat outside next to a lovely older couple and we were really happy with the choice. They were humorous people that gave us wonderful suggestions on the highly extensive menu. I ordered the pizza diavola (I really wanted to try the pizza in France) with a glass of Soave and Jack ordered spicy spaghetti with shrimp and pomodoro sauce.
The pizza was the best I’ve ever had but you have to remember to ask for the piri-piri oil in advance. It makes the pizza so much better, even if it’s hard to believe. I also sampled Jack’s pasta and was blown away. I can only imagine how amazing the pasta has to be in Italy… There is always next year, right? We ended the mean with tiramisu. Although it was nowhere as good as my mom’s, it was nonetheless delicious, perfectly sweet, and creamy.