Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

inated by the soft gray of the castle and and religious privileges. We wondered abbey, is like a reflected cloud. Between at first why the school and church were Théoule and Cannes the railway crosses placed on the promontory, a good mile the viaduct of the Siagne. Through the and a half from the town; but later arches one can see the golf-course on we came to realize that this was a saluwhich an English statesman thought out tary measure. The climate is insidious. the later phases of British Imperialism. A daily antidote against laziness is

needed. I was glad that I volunteered to take the children to school at eight and two, and go after them at eleven and four, and that they held me to it. In order to reach a passable route on the steep wall of rock and pine, the road built by the Touring Club de France makes a bend of two kilometers in the val

ley behind Théoule. ting

By taking a footpath from the hotel, the pedestrian eliminates the bend in five minutes. In spite of curves, the road is continuously steep and keeps a heavy grade until it reaches the Pointe de l'Esquillon.

I never tired of the four times a day. Between the Villa Étoile and the town was the castle, built on the water's edge. After Louis XIV. it became a soap-factory, and was re

stored to its ancient THE BRIDGE AT THÉOULE

dignity only recently. I ought not to

say “dignity,” for To the west, the Gulf of La Napoule the restorer was a baron of industry, and ends in the pine-covered promontory of his improvements are distressing. The enthe Esquillon. Except for a very small trance to the park created on the inner beach in front of the Théoule hotel, the side of the road opposite the château is coast is rocky. From February to May the result of landscape dentistry. The our terrace outlook competed success- creator did not find that the natural fully with the war.

rock lent itself to his fancies, and filled Young and old in Théoule have to in the hollows with stones of volcanic make a daily effort to enjoy educational origin. On the side of the hill, fountains

[graphic]
[graphic][merged small]

and pools and a truly massive flight of table traces of mid-Victorianism, and steps have been made. Scrawny firs are we have to contend with Irish politicians trying to grow where they ought not and German contractors. In the subto. Quasi-natural urns overflow with urbs and in the country, however, where captive flowers, geraniums and nastur Americans build their own homes, we tiums predominating. Ferns hang as have become accustomed to ideas of gracefully as shirtings displayed in a beauty that make the results of the last department-store window. Stone lions sixty years of European growth painful defy, and terra-cotta stags run away to us. Our taste in line, color, decorafrom, porcelain dogs. There are bowers tion, and interior furnishing is at hopeand benches of imitation petrified wood. less variance with that of twentieth

American money may be responsible century Europe. We admire and we for the château garden, but the villas of buy in Europe that which our European Théoule are all French. Modern French ancestors created. Our admiration artistic genius runs to painting and and our buying—is confined strictly to clothes. There is none left for building Europe of the past. Present-day Euor house-furnishing. French taste, as rope displays German Schmuck from one expressed in homes, inside and outside, end to the other—and France is no exis as bad as Prussian. We may admire ception. mildly the monotonous symmetry of

On the walk to school you soon get post-Haussmann Paris. When we get beyond the château and the villas. But to the suburbs and to the provincial even on the promontory there is more towns and to summer and winter re than the dodging of automobiles to resorts, we have to confess that architect mind one that this is the twentieth ure is a lost art in France. In America, century. The Corniche de l'Esterel has especially in our cities, we have regret- been singled out by

been singled out by the moving-picture

eur

men for playing out-of-door scenarios. one met. Children go slowly, and When the sun is shining, a day rarely squirrels and birds belong to nature. passes without film-making. The man There was always time to breathe in the with a camera has the rising road and forest and the sea and to look across to bends around which the action can enter the mountains. When cartables and into the scene, the forest up and the goûters were handed over at the school forest down, the Mediterranean and

gate parental responsibility ceased for

three hours. One had the choice of going on around the point toward Trayas or down to the sea.

The people of Théoule say that Corsica, sixty miles away, can be seen from the Esquillon. All one has to do is to keep going day after day until “atmospheric conditions are favorable." The Touring Club has built a belvedere at the extremity of the Esquillon. Arrows on a dial indicate the direction of important places from Leghorn to Marseilles. The Apennines behind Florence, as well as Corsica, are marked as within the range of visibility. The Apennines had not been seen for years, but Corsica was liable to appear at any time. The first day the Artist went with me to the Esquillon an oldest inhabitant said that we had a Corsica day. A

milkwoman en route A ROAD HEWN FROM THE ROCK AND WINDING BETWEEN THE PINES

reported Corsica in

sight, and told us to mountain and island and Cannes back hurry. Toward nine o'clock the sun grounds. Automobile hold-ups with pis- raises a mist from the sea, she explained. tols barking, the man and the maid in In the belvedere we found a girl without the woods and on the terrace, the villain a guide-book who had evidently come assaulting, and the hero rescuing the over from Trayas. She was crouched defenseless woman, the heroine jumping down to dial level, and her eyes were from a rock into the sea, and clinging to following the Corsica arrow. She did not an upturned boat—these are common- look up or move when we entered. Minplace events on the Corniche de l’Es- utes passed. There was no offer to give terel.

us a chance. We coughed and shuffled, The world of cinemas and motors does and the Artist sang “The Little Gray not rise early. On the morning walk, Home in the West.” I informed the children and squirrels and birds were all Artist-in French—that a specialist had

[graphic]
[ocr errors]

“Yes,

a n

once remarked upon my hyperopic that I was glad to be myopic just now. powers, and that if Corsica were really Who wanted to see Corsica any longer? in sight I could not fail to see it. The girl knew interesting upper paths

Not until she had to shake the cramp on the western side of the promontory. out of her back did the girl straighten She had as much time as we, or rather, up:

I must say regretfully, she and the Artist Corsica is invisible to-day," she an had more time than I. For eleven o'clock nounced.

I swered, sadly. “Ten minutes ago the mist began to come up. You know, sun upon water-” A look in her eyes made me hesitate. And all that sort of thing," I ended, lamely

“Nonsense,” she said, briskly. She surveyed the Artist from mustache to cane point and turned back to me. You at least,” she declared, "are American, but of the unpractical sort. And you

unresourceful as you are ungallant, Monsieur. How do I know? Well, you were complaining about my monopolizing the dial. There is a map on the tiles under your feet, and a compass dangles uselessly from your watchchain. I wonder, too, if you are hyperopic. You know which is the Carlton Hotel

ON THE ISLE ST. MARGUERITE over there in Cannes. Tell me how many windows there are across a floor.” The came quickly, and I hurried off to fulfill atmosphere was wonderfully clear, and my parental duty. The Artist told me the Carlton stood out plainly, but I afterward that there was a fine cuisine failed the test.

at the Trayas restaurant. The girl laughed. I did not mind that. I did think of my compass one day, When the Artist started in I turned on for I had sore need for it; but, as genhim savagely. “Well, you count the erally happens in such cases, I was not Carlton windows," I said.

wearing it. Between Théoule and La “No specialist ever told me I was Napoule, the nearest town on the way hyperopic,” he came back.

to Cannes, a tempting forest road leads I had to save the day by answering back into the valley. A sign states that

[graphic]

are

as

were

a curious view of a mountain peak, be the big hill just behind the Villa named after Marcus Aurelius, could be Étoile. If, instead of retracing our steps had by following the road for half a toward La Napoule, we kept ahead and dozen kilometers. It was one of the remembered to take the left at every things tourists did when they were visit cross path, we would come out at the ing the Corniche for a day. Conse- place where the Corniche road made its quently, when one was staying on the big bend before mounting to the promon

tory. It was all so simple that it could not be otherwise.

We were sure of the direction, and fairly sure of the distance, since we had left the motor road between Théoule and La Napoule.

There was an hour and a half before lunch. A lumber road followed the brook, and

and the brook skirted the hill beyond which was Théoule and the Villa Étoile. It was a day to swear by, and April flowers

in full bloom. It was delightful until we had to confess that the hill showed no intention of coming down to a valley on the left. Finally, at a point where a path went up abruptly from the stream, we decided that it would be best to cut over the summit of the hill and not wait until the Corniche road appeared before us. In

would

avoid the walk back UNDER THESE ROCKS, THE OCTOPI ARE SAID TO LURK

from the hotel to our villa, and

out Corniche, it was always an excursion of in our own garden. But on the Riviera the morrow.

During the Artist's first Nature has shown no care in placing week we were walking over to Mande- her hills where they ought to be and in lieu to take the tram to Cannes one symmetrizing and limiting them. They morning and suddenly decided that the go on indefinitely. So did we, until we last thing in the world for sensible folks came to feel that we would be like the to do was to go to Cannes on a day when soldiers of Xenophon once we spied the the country was calling insistently. We But the cry “Thalassa !” was deturned in at the sign. After had seen

Eventually we turned back the view we thought that it would be and tried keeping the hill on the right. possible to take a short cut back to This was as perplexing as keeping it on Théoule. The wall of the valley that the left had been. A pair of famished shut us off from the sea must certainly explorers, hungry enough to eat canned

[graphic]
[ocr errors]

this way

we

come

sea.

we

nied us.

« VorigeDoorgaan »