This stone house, built in the early 1800’s, is perched high up in a rocky outcropping overlooking the Mediterranean in a town called Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, between Monaco and Menton on the French Riviera. The owner refers to it dismissively as “le petit maison” and is consistently amused by how enamored we are of the little house. She clearly has no idea about the size of New York City apartments.
Afternoons are predictably bright and sunny. As appealing as this “office” is, admittedly, the glare on my screen can make telecommuting and travel writing virtually impossible and I’m forced to retreat indoors.
The beach just below our house: aptly named le Golf bleu, we swim here in the afternoons if we can motivate ourselves to descend hundreds of steps down the mountain. If I were a better photographer, you could see how the sunlight hitting the Mediterranean looks as if thousands of fireflies are pulsing across its surface.
Despite its conspicuous lack of a boulangerie or even a simple tabac, we love this town which maintains its medieval character to an eerie degree. The narrow alleyways are full of stairways, the stones worn to a treacherous slippery texture from the foot traffic of 11 centuries. Romanesque arches cover the one-person-wide walkways, creating deep dark vaulted passageways that wind chaotically around the base of the castle.
For dinner, we typically return to our petit maison, which sounds deceptively like a fancy French restaurant. This rosemary bush, taking over the stone wall outside our kitchen, is responsible for inspiring many meals. It also makes for interesting tea (essentially the French equivalent to Peptobismol) to digest all the rich Camembert.
In the early evenings, before supper, we watch the swallows, admiring their bouts of aerial ballet against the silvering sky. Sometimes I feel guilty devoting so much time to watching swallows. The New Yorker in me occasionally starts screaming, “Are you crazy? You could be writing, or grading papers or reading War and Peace!” What do you think you’re doing?” But the longer I stay, the softer that voice becomes. The new voice is much nicer to me, and speaks French.
Soyez heureux.. détendez-vous… mangez pesto…it seems to purr in my ear.