Thursday, 21 April 2011

Another One Bites the Dust

I find this story sad (while simultaneously being puzzled by the use of the word 'cadence' in the context). It also sets me wondering about where exactly that 'large, proud rose-coloured hotel' that is the opening image of the first Tender is the Night used to stand, if it had an origin in reality, rather than merely in Fitzgerald's imagination. The picture he paints in that opening scene is wonderfully uncrowded and civilised:

'On the pleasant shore of the French Riviera, about half-way between Marseilles and the Italian border, stands a large, proud, rose-coloured hotel. Deferential palms cool its flushed facade, and before it stretches a short dazzling beach ... when this story begins only the cupolas of a dozen old villas rotted like water-lilies among the massed pines between Gausse's Hotel des Etrangers and Cannes, five miles away.

The hotel and its bright tan prayer rug of a beach were one. In the early morning the distant image of Cannes, the pink and cream of old fortifications, the purple Alps that bonded Italy, were cast across the water and lay quavering in the ripples and rings sent up by sea-plants through the clear shallows. Before eight a man came down to the beach in a blue bathrobe and with much preliminary application to his person of the chilly water, and much grunting and loud breathing, floundered a minute in the sea. When he had gone, beach and bay were quiet for an hour. Merchantmen crawled westward on the horizon; bus boys shouted in the hotel court; the dew dried upon the pines.'

Is there anywhere as quiet and untouched left on the French Riviera? I fear it's all been overrun or swept away.

Stop Press: (No, not swept away, I discover, just put out of reach. Apparently, the model for Fitzgerald's hotel is almost certainly the Grand Hotel du Cap d'Antibes, and the prices, if you look, are breathtaking. In the summer the most basic room starts at 700 Euros per night - a bit beyond the reach I suspect, of present day McKiscos and other such ordinary mortals.)

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