We went to Cap d'Antibes yesterday.
Our good friends Olga and Eric live around the corner in a gorgeous old 1929 Mediterranean villa. In about thirty seconds, we can walk from our little English cottage to the South of France, no passport required.
Olga's back garden is a magical paradise that always reminds me of F. Scott Fitzgerald's Villa America in "Tender Is The Night." Lush vegetation surrounds a stone pool, clambering vines adorn a separate guest house, and romantic walkways lead to a myriad of outdoor seating areas. She designed it herself but modestly deflects all praise. (She's a coy thing.)
She was wearing a fitted bateau shirt with red and blue stripes. Tall and willowy, she possesses that particular brand of Gallic style that's chic and effortless.
Unwinding with them over a bottle of wine was just the restorative we needed after a unusually hectic weekend. Luca disappeared upstairs with the children and peace spread over the land.
We drank a Bordeaux that tasted of earth and figs and black currants in thin-stemmed crystal glasses. (Well, les femmes did. Eric and Piero drank Lebanese beer, just visible in the background).
To say that Olga is a Francophile is an understatement. Everywhere you turn, there is a reminder of the mother land. In a shady corner, a traditional bistro set in Provençal blue creates an artful haven for her children.
Flowers -- roses, camellias, bougainvillea -- were in masses everywhere. The scent was heady and intoxicating. I want a garden like this.
Here, Olga has used a wire frame to train little trumpet vines around an arched window. Imagine what this is going to look like framed with flowers.
Inside, she has created a sanctuary for her family that resounds with colors, textures, layers and personal history. See that white sofa? It used to belong to Valentino (the silent film star, not the designer).
Editor's Note: There are so many wonderful historic homes here in Los Angeles. Magical pleasure domes built in the 1920's and 1930's, they are a heady reminder of Hollywood's Golden Age. Within a stone's throw of my house are a Spanish villa, a Georgian manor, a French chateau and a half-timbered Tudor, all richly weathered and bearing a nobility that only the patina of age can bestow. Despite their different architectural styles, they all work beautifully together. It's my "cocktail party" theory - the most memorable ones are filled with people from all walks of life and all points of view. Houses and neighborhoods are no different.