Friday, January 2, 2015

WINTER - NICE & E.1027

 We're lucky it has been raining and gusting gale-force winds for the past week, but as the plane taxies to a halt on the runway of Nice's airport, the sun is shining & the sky is Mary's mantle blue. 

The no.99 bus brings us the 7-odd Kilometres from airport to town, along the Promenade Anglaise  - the same promenade where the famous dancer, Isadora Duncan's  trailing chiffon scarf caught in the mechanics of her roadster and she was choked to death.

Our hotel, the Hotel Suisse is at the end of the Promenade, with our room 
over-looking the morning swimmers, sunbathers & joggers. Yes, in December.
 As always, Nice is beautiful - the morning flower market stunning;
 the ice skaters out in force and the Christmas markets full of elegant
 trinkets and sophisticated street food.

Our primary mission is to visit Eileen Gray's iconic E.1027 villa at Roquebrune-sur-Mer, to see how its much vaunted completion is progressing. First blow - the train no longer stops at Roquebrune station.  It's has to be the bus, number 100, costing €1.50 each way. Gloriously it rambles up & around villages such as Eze where Bono has a place, and Monaco where the royal Raniers reside.

The bus driver is helpful but can only offer a series of grimaces, 'alors', and gesticulating arms when we ask for directions to E.1024. An elderly man hidden behind dark glasses comes to the rescue. The villa can only be reached by walking - a long walk. Daunted but
determined we set out. Our rescuer wasn't exaggerating. Going is mostly downhill, returning will be mostly uphill!
We pass a sign announcing that Jacques Brel lived here. Remember Jacques Brel? He who was alive and well, and almost resident in Dublin's  Shelbourne Hotel during the 1970s.

 Next there's a sign for Promenade Le Corbusier. We promenade  along its deserted way, the surface has been improved since my last visit, likely to facilitate equipment & machinery for the re-building & re-furbishment of the villa. The whole area is a sad, lonely place, devoid of life, and the deserted, vandalised railway station is the proverbial last straw.

At the villa there's nothing but a strong smell of urine and desolation - graffiti, padlocked gates, and the roof of Le Corbusier's famous cabana sheathed in green plastic sheeting. Even if the house opens to the public - and the French authorities are insistent it will -  there is virtually no access.
It's time to go, to face the climb back up to the main road - and it's some climb -  but it's been worth it.

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