Scott & Zelda Fitzgerald on the French Riviera in the Art Deco age (1920s)

Long article about the Fitzgerald couple in the art deco age – but fascinating for anyone living, or wanting to live, on the Cote d’Azur.  Read this and then contact me, Jackie Pressman of French Riviera Property Search to find your perfect property in your perfect location. +33 (0)493 38 22 24 and +33 (0)698 12 89 00.

Taken from an article in the American ‘Wall Street Journal’:

SOME THINGS just don’t change. The Riviera, described nearly a century ago by F. Scott Fitzgerald as a “playground” with a “fairy blue” sea, is still coasting on its mythic allure. Every summer, the palm-fringed stretch from Monaco to St. Raphaël is the place where the whole world descends “to forget or rejoice, to hide its face or have its fling,” as the writer aptly observed.

But when Fitzgerald set sail across the Atlantic with his wife and daughter in 1924, his plan was to escape to a place where they could “live on practically nothing a year.” Having unwittingly become the spokesman for the Jazz Age with “This Side of Paradise” (1920), Fitzgerald could no longer afford the extravagant lifestyle that came with it. He and Zelda decided to flee their hectic social life in New York, where continuous partying prevented the writer from concentrating on his third novel, “The Great Gatsby.”

Back then, with sunbathing not yet in vogue, the Riviera in the summer was dirt cheap and deserted—”like going to Palm Beach for July,” as Fitzgerald put it. The couple rented a villa on a lush hillside in St. Raphaël, “a little red town built close to the sea, with gay red-roofed houses and an air of repressed carnival about it,” where Fitzgerald worked on “Gatsby.”

Much has changed since he penned one of the most defining novels of the 20th century—whose fourth incarnation on the silver screen hits European cinemas beginning May 15—but you can still enjoy the excesses of Fitzgerald’s “hot sweet south of France.”

Start your tour, à la “Winter Dreams” (1922), on the golf course. Just a stone’s throw from the Fitzgeralds’ Villa Marie in St. Raphaël, the pine-shaded Valescure Golf Club is known for its short, narrow fairways, difficult roughs and a splendid Old English-style clubhouse. €75 a round; 725 avenue des Golfs, St. Raphaël;

On your way out of town, stop for a cool drink at the seafront Hotel Excelsior, and imagine Fitzgerald puffing away on a Chesterfield at one of St. Raphaël’s oldest watering holes after a hard day’s work. Promenade du Président René Coty;

From here, follow the Fitzgeralds in their little blue Renault down the winding coastal road—the red rocks of the Esterel and turquoise shallows are still spectacular—to the Cap d’Antibes. Scott and Zelda came here regularly to visit their friends Gerald and Sara Murphy. Gerald, an heir to the Mark Cross leather-goods company and visionary painter of proto-Pop Art, and Sara, a beauty known for her joie de vivre (she became Picasso’s secret muse), were the Riviera’s original trendsetters.

Their charismatic style still shines brightly at the outset of “Tender is the Night” (1934), as Dick and Nicole Diver—modeled on the Murphys—take over the curved sandy beach at La Garoupe with elaborate picnics and illustrious friends. Off the page, Sara elegantly “sunned” her strand of pearls on the tiny cove, while Gerald played the latest jazz records on his portable phonograph. Fitzgerald preferred to lie in the shade, nursing a bottle of gin. Zelda, as the Murphys’ daughter, Honoria, later recalled, was “a strikingly beautiful woman—blond and soft and tanned,” who always had a peony in her hair or pinned to her dress.

Today, at the far corner of La Garoupe, the bronzed and the beautiful flock to La Plage Keller. Follow them for a toes-in-the-sand languorous lunch washed down with Champagne. The Mediterranean-style dishes range from petits farcis and fried squid to lobster and truffle ravioli. Lunch from about €60; chemin de la Garoupe, Antibes;

Or, in the spirit of the Murphys’ caviar-and Champagne-parties, head for the hills of Vence to the Château Saint-Martin & Spa for an extravagant La Prairie massage, with rich caviar cream. From €120; 2490 avenue des Templiers, Vence;

When the Murphys first discovered the pink seaside Hôtel du Cap—the Hotel des Etrangers in “Tender is the Night”—hidden away on a lush mini-peninsula, they immediately fell in love with it, persuading the owner to keep it open during the summer. While their new home, the Villa America, was being built, the hotel became their private headquarters to entertain their friends: the Count and Countess Étienne de Beaumont, Gertrude Stein, Pablo Picasso and his first wife Olga Khokhlova, Ernest Hemingway, John Dos Passos, Rudolph Valentino and, of course, the Fitzgeralds.

Scott and Zelda would probably not feel out of place with the glitzy Bellini-sipping crowd that now lounges on the Hôtel du Cap’s pool terrace. Rooms from €800; blvd. JF Kennedy, BP 29, Antibes;

Their alcohol-fueled antics, however—smashing handblown wineglasses and lobbing ashtrays—would likely not play out so well today. As self-avowed “excitement eaters,” the couple would liven up the evenings at the hotel by diving off 11-meter-high rocks into the pitch-dark sea. One night, Zelda took off her black lace panties and tossed them to her hosts, prompting others to strip down and skinny-dip in the pool. “One could get away with more on the summer Riviera, and whatever happened seemed to have something to do with art,” Fitzgerald wrote to his editor, Maxwell Perkins.

Take a dip of your own into the Jazz Age at L’Antiquaire et la Mode. This Cannes store is a treasure trove of rare vintage threads, from sequined dresses to jewelry and shoes. 8 rue Hélène Vagliono, Cannes; +33-493-99-13-08

For something more modern, try the St. James boutique in Nice. Their striped Marinière jerseys are as fashionable (and ubiquitous) today as they were in the ’20s, after Murphy and Picasso made them de rigueur among the Riviera set. 11 place Ile de Beauté, Nice;

You’ll wish you were in spats or a flapper dress when you step into les années folles at Eilenroc, the Belle Epoque villa and vast rose gardens on the Cap d’Antibes where Scott and Zelda were frequently spotted swanning about, hobnobbing with European royalty. Once owned by the Count and Countess de Beaumont, it is now a restored landmark, replete with their original furnishings.

To take home your own piece of Art Deco, head to Nice’s antique district at the port. At Achille Antiquités, you’ll find sculpted wood armchairs and desks with elaborate inlays, plus chandeliers, mirrors and Lalique objets d’art all from the 1920s. 13 rue Emmanuel Philibert, Nice;

The Fitzgeralds reveled—and rowed—in equally sumptuous evenings at La Colombe d’Or, in St.-Paul de Vence. When it came to restaurants, the Fitzgeralds avoided elaborate French cuisine. Even in the finest restaurants, Fitzgerald would often dismiss the waiter in poorly pronounced French and order a club sandwich. But they weren’t at La Colombe d’Or for the food. The artists’ haunt was the place to be seen. It still is. Dine on the star-packed leafy terrace, surrounded by original works by Miró, Braque, Picasso and Chagall. Dinner from about €60; 1 place General de Gaulle, St.-Paul de Vence;

Monte Carlo was another surefire place for excitement. The Fitzgeralds would take the scenic Grande Corniche “through the twilight with the whole French Riviera twinkling below” for an evening at the casino. The Garnier-designed Monte-Carlo Casino, steeped in Old World glamour, remains the place for “excitement eaters” with money to burn. For a nightcap, order Fitzgerald’s favorites—a gin fizz or mint julep—at the Bar Américain inside the gilded splendor of the Hôtel de Paris. Drinks, €24; place du Casino, Monaco;

‘One could get away with more on the summer Riviera, and whatever happened seemed to have something to do with art.’

In 1926, with “Gatsby” a roaring critical success, the Fitzgeralds returned to the Riveria. renting the Villa St-Louis in Juan-les-Pins. Fitzgerald boasted to friends in New York that he’d found a big house on the shore with a private beach, near the casino.

The villa was later transformed into a small, family-run Art Deco gem, Hôtel Belles Rives, with one of the best terrace restaurants on the Riviera. Its furnishings, frescoes and fumoir have all been meticulously preserved by the current owner, Marianne Chauvin-Estène. “My favorite story is when Scott lured a local band inside the villa, then locked them in a bedroom upstairs,” says Ms. Chauvin-Estène. “He tossed away the key, forced them to play dance music all night for his guests and wouldn’t let them leave until sunrise.” Rooms from €175; 33 blvd. Edouard Baudoin, Juan-les-Pins;

Ever since then, Juan-les-Pins has had jazz in its blood. You can get into the groove each July at Jazz à Juan, a festival featuring top-notch artists in a starlit seaside setting under the pines near the Fitzgeralds’ former digs. July 12-21; tickets from €19,

The couple spent their last summer spree on the Côte d’Azur in 1929 in a less-fashionable part of Cannes. By then the stock market had crashed and the mood had soured. The Fitgeralds now avoided the celebrity circus at the Hôtel du Cap.

By the time “Tender is the Night” was published five years later, the Fitzgeralds and the Murphys had long since returned to America. Tragic events would mar their happiness, but the golden glow of those Riviera summers remained. As Sara Murphy later said: “It was like a great fair, and everybody was so young.”

So, contact me, Jackie Pressman of French Riviera Property Search, to find your perfect property in your perfect location.  +33 (0)493 38 22 24 and +33 (0)698 12 89 00.

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English spoken here!!

Jackie Pressman of French Riviera Property Search tells you more about life on the Riviera

Did you know that there is an English-speaking retirement home here with all medical facilities and the staff all speak English!  It sold out very quickly when it came on the market a few years ago.

The owners are now building a block of apartments nearby with emphasis on English-speaking buyers.  Only for fully active people, it is scheduled to be finished at the beginning of 2017 and they are taking firm orders and deposits now.  It will sell fast as there are many English in this area.  These apartments will have a restaurant, common room, TV lounge, etc so that the residents can mix with others or stay in their own apartment, as they wish.

Both are set in beautiful Provence gardens but only a short distance to all shopping facilities, and the coast.

Renters of these new apartments will have priority to move into the retirement home if/when they need continual medical care.  Good idea.

Meanwhile, if you don’t want to rent these new apartments but are looking for a place of your own to buy now – contact me, Jackie Pressman of French Riviera Property Search, and I will search the whole area to find what you want.  We will view together all properties which fit your specification and budget, remembering that property agents here do not share properties and that they are instructed in writing and legally by the SELLER.  Conflict?  Yes, we think so.  I will be acting totally for you, the BUYER.

See you here on the beautiful Cote d’Azur soon.

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A Geyser off the beach on the French Riviera

We saw a most unusual sight whilst having lunch at our favourite beach on the French Riviera.  These 2 men were playing with a totally new method of excitement on the sea.

Apparently there is a jet of air which is relayed to the boots which supports the wearer up in the air!

Looks like fun but not sure we want to try it!!

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Enjoy the Cote d’Azur

Choose the Cote d’Azur – choose the art of living

With over 120km of coastline, 19 golf courses, 15 ski stations, 125 sports activities and around 6000 cultural and sporting events each and every year, the Côte d’Azur is an exceptional region in which to live, work and play, for locals and visitors alike.

The region is home to over 100,000 foreign nationals accounting for around 160 nationalities, 21 international schools, 1700 foreign-owned establishments and just under twenty international media organisations, combining to create a rich, vibrant international community with a resolutely cosmopolitan feel.

Nice airport is an international hub so travel becomes fast and easy.

Other aspects which so many love – the fresh markets each day; the glorious local wines; marvellous fresh foods; incredible weather year round with blue skies and azure seas; the proximity to Italy and Monaco.

Here newcomers, long-term residents, tourists and business visitors alike will all find information and numerous links with which to begin exploring and making the most out of their stay in the Côte d’Azur.

So contact me, Jackie Pressman of French Riviera Property Search to find you your dream home or your rental apartment for a convention or your rental villa for a vacation.  Also I am a font of information on local aspects!   Most importantly I am here to assist you.  I await your contact.

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If you want to buy you should do so NOW


In very recent years, I have been telling clients that it is a buyers’ market.  But suddenly here on the cote d’Azur prices are increasing again.  If you want to buy you should do so NOW.

The French Riviera is a highly desirable place to live and now that the beautiful hot    weather is here again, what better way to drink your glass of Rose and relax.

Within the year prices will have hardened and it will be more difficult to find any good bargains.

Contact me, Jackie Pressman of French Riviera Property Search SARL, and I will find you your ideal property in your ideal location.

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Re French taxes – Don’t believe what you read in the Newspapers!

Foreign newspapers have been quick to announce President Hollande’s proposed new taxes on second home owners, despite that these taxes are only ‘proposed’ and not ‘fait accompli’.  Very few are agreed but even if they go into effect they are then struck down by Courts, leading to a claim for refund from any who have already paid.  Here are 3 examples:

1.  75% tax to anyone earning over 1M or assessed to the company paying it – this is now advised to be quietly dropped.  We all remember when Gerard Depardieu hurriedly moved his residence to Russia!!

2.  15.5% contribution to social services for any non-resident with property in France.  Not fair as ruled by the Court.  So we await to hear if a rebate is due to any who have paid it on their rental income declaration of last year.

3.  Increase of 20% on Taxes d’Habitation for owners of second properties to be agreed by the local Mayor.  I read that the Cannes and Nice mayors have since refused to allow.

Also please note that for those with children from a previous relationship, where the inheritance rules of France are not as suitable as those in the property-owner’s country of tax-residence, it is advised that this may well be dropped.  In the Will, the property-owner can then elect to use the country of tax-residence rather than the country in which the property (fixed asset) is situated.  More on this when we get a definitive ruling.

So, contact me, Jackie Pressman of French Riviera Property Search, to advise you about the way to structure your purchase when we have found you your perfect property here on the French Riviera. 

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It’s festival time on the French Riviera

…and in the months of February and early March there are many to choose from: lemons, violets, all the fun of Mardi Gras in Nice and of course the glorious scent and colour of the Mimosa Festival. The skies are blue, it’s still warm enough to eat lunch outside and of course we are only a little over an hours drive from the ski slopes. This is a great time to visit the French Riviera.

all made from lemons and oranges!

The Lemon (and Orange) festival in Menton is one of the most amazing spectacles of the winter months. Many 1000’s of fruits are transformed into sculptures and works of art and of course there are always the parades to look forward to. 14th February – 4th March.


Carnival time in Nice

Nice is alive with Mardi Gras and this year’s theme is the King of Music. Parades night and day, dancing in the streets, spectacular floats and hundreds of performers will be contributing to the party atmosphere. 13th February – 1st March.


The lovely smell of violets fills the air

The Violet Festival in Tourettes sur Loup is one of the prettiest events of the season. The villagers can be seen in their traditional Provencal costumes and there is of course a parade through the streets. The Festival takes place on the 21st and 22nd February.


bright yellow against the deep blue sky

The glorious Mimosa is already showing it’s beautiful bright yellow fronds which can only mean that it’s time for the Mimosa Festival in Mandelieu-La Nalpoule. The scent of the flowers & glorious colours are enough to brighten the heaviest of winter spirits.   18th – 27th February.

AND you can contact me, Jackie Pressman, of French Riviera Property Search, to find your perfect home whilst you’re here – see my website to find out everything I can do for you.

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Definitely a buyer’s market here in France

After the Swiss change of rates, it is now easier than ever to buy here.  Three reasons:

1.  Your currency buys more Euros (today UK£ to Euro is 1.34 and US$ to Euro is 0.89).  If you use a currency company (and we recommend FCA approved Currencies Direct) you do not pay bank transfer charges; you do not pay bank commission; you get a better rate; your money is absolutely safe; AND you can fix the rate for 6 months in advance so whatever happens to the exchange rate your proceeds are guaranteed.

2.  Several new President Hollande pronouncements about second-home tax will never be approved but, nevertheless, they have had a definite effect on prices and today it is possible to make good discount offers when you find the place you want.

3.  Agency sharing of properties is not done here and you would have to visit many different agents to find everything.  Fortunately I, Jackie Pressman of French Riviera Property Search SARL, am here to help you.  Once I am sure of your specification and budget – and what you are prepared to compromise on – I will scour all the agencies to give you a schedule of all properties for our viewing together.  Also remember that agents are instructed legally and in writing by the seller – and I represent you, the buyer, so no conflict.

Call me.

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Cannes Film Festival May 2015

Joel & Ethan Coen

The organisers announced today that Joel and Ethan Coen have been selected as Presidents of the Jury for the 68th Cannes Film Festival.

The selection of the brothers, longtime Cannes favourites, marks the first time the Jury has been presided over by two people. The organisers have marked 2015 as a year to celebrate the work of ‘cinema brothers’, to coincide with the 120th anniversary of the Lumiere cinematograph invented by the Lumiere brothers, Louis and Auguste.

Speaking from the set of their current film Hail Caesar!, starring George Clooney, Josh Brolin and Channing Tatum, the Coens said: “We look forward to returning to Cannes this year. We welcome as always the opportunity to watch movies there from all over the world. Cannes is a festival that has been important to us since the very beginning of our career. Presiding over the Jury is a special honour, since we have never heretofore been president of anything. We will issue further proclamations at the appropriate time.”

For film information lovers: Beginning with their second film, 1987’s Raising Arizona, the Coens have presented nine of their films at Cannes. They won the Palme d’Or in 1991 for Barton Fink; the best director award in 1996 for Fargo and again in 2001 for The Man Who Wasn’t There; and, most recently, the Grand Prix in 2013 for Inside Llewyn Davis.

For lovers of private film information: Joel Cohen is married to the well-known actress Frances McDormand and she has appeared in some of their films, e.g. Fargo, for which she received the US Oscar for best actress.

The Cannes Film Festival this year takes place from Wednesday May 13 until Sunday May 24. The lineup for the Official film selection and the other members of the Jury will be unveiled in mid-April.

Many of my clients buy an apartment in Cannes which can be rented out for all the International conventions – we have about one a month in Cannes – and then use the apartment themselves when they wish, free of charge.

Contact me, Jackie Pressman, of French Riviera Property Search, and I will find you the perfect apartment and arrange your viewings.  See


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A wet November on the French Riviera but now it’s beautiful

Just after the hottest October since records began, the Riviera had its wettest November on record. According to Météo France, the city of Nice received half of November’s average rainfall in just two hours at the beginning of the month!

The heavy rainfall, strong winds and thunderstorms have affected various roads in the Alpes Maritimes and Var departments. Nice saw flooding on the Promenade des Anglais and in Place Masséna, and the entrance to the A8 in western Nice was also heavily flooded.  In Cannes the coast road was closed for 2 days as the strong waves washed over the road depositing sand and sea water – and damaging some of the beach restaurants.

But what beautiful weather now, in December.  Clear bright sunshine and glistening sea and the amazing sunsets – red in the winter and a sight to behold!

winter sunset reflected on the Mediterranean sea

I often tell visitors: Yes, we do get rain – but 2 days of rain is followed by a month of beautiful weather and blue skies.  In other European Northern countries, 2 days of rain is followed by a month of rain and grey skies!!

Jackie Pressman of French Riviera Property Search says “living here is wonderful – so join us and let me help you choose your home – whether it be for permanent living, vacations, or investment for rentals until you’re ready to use full-time”.

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