Monday, October 4, 2010

If It's Sunday, This Must Be France

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.

23 comments:

Marta said...

I love the arched window, and the "chien méchant" sign is so French!

Emily said...

I agree wholeheartedly with you Lisa. Life is boring if we are all the same. And homes should have their own personality as well! It's like my grandmother used to say "Find your own style, mine is taken!"

Barbara said...

Wonderful post and thanks for letting us be your virtual neighbor.
BarbaraG

little augury said...

Lisa, as always your photographs are beautiful. the first stop me immediately as I perused my blog list this morning. Gaye

Miss Whistle said...

What a heavenly, cozy house.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

That particular shade of glorious blue.
Always Provence to me.
Lovely post!

Terra said...

What a great ambiance that your friend created, almost like a trip to Provence, without the airplane trip.

Ivarene Farmer said...

Your pictures are dreamy and you have painted a perfect portrait of what it is like to be there

Anonymous said...

"You have captured 'Chez Olga (et al)' perfectly!

Melissa said...

Tres jolie!

Alcira Molina-Ali said...

God this looks dreamy. What a way to wile away un dimanche...and how wonderful to have such fascinating and hospitable neighbors.
Chin-chin!

thenerochronicles.blogspot.com

Julie Anne Rhodes said...

Don't you just love mini-holidays that don't require the absurd degradation of security, and lack the last minute expired passport panics!

Design Elements said...

images with personality! thanks for sharing!

A Super Dilettante said...

It's like going into the houses in Jacques Rivette's French films. I love the French window with flowers round the door!

Carly G. said...

Beautiful photos!!

Diane James Home said...

What a beautiful home! I had to read your post several times before I realised that you were not, in fact, in Cap d'Antibes so transported was I to this dreamy place. My husband and I spent several summers as young loves in his Mamie's home around the corner from the lighthouse on Cap d'Antibes and I can almost feel her presence while reading your post - thank you for the wonderful memories!

Dianne said...

The best homes are much like the best friends...eclectic!

suzanne vachon said...

Love Olga's house, the ambiance is wonderful,would like to spend a day reading on this Valentino daybed. Thanks for the super photos. There is something très romantique about this post.

decogirlmontreal

Virginia Blue - Director Blue Fruit said...

It's amazing how a garden - with its choice of plants, colours, layouts and mostly heady scents - can instantly transport one to another place. Sounds like a heavenly spot. This is a delicious post.

VictoriaArt said...

Oh Sunday beauty,
Hollywood style, I would come over,
sit awhile,
swim in the pool and sip some wine,
I wish you would be a neighbor of mine!

Angie Muresan said...

It looks so beautiful! Olga has such a lovely house and garden.

Väva! Veve! said...

I read your title, saw the pictures, and thought you had gone traveling AGAIN! But you just got back from Scotland! Then I thought, "How fortunate you are!"

Then I read your blog and realized you were just visiting a neighbor, and then I thought, "How fortunate you are!"

Laura Casey Interiors said...

That sounds like a fantastic evening! Love the outdoor shots.

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