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Villeneuve-Loubet, and mustered our best vocabulary to admire the town,
the solid foundations, the houses, the protecting castle, and above all,
the unique streets of stone.

"But it must be very difficult to go up and down in winter. How do you
manage when the rock is frozen over with snow and ice?" I asked.

"It does not freeze here," she answered.

The moon-whiteness had made me think of winter, and it had not occurred
to me that there would be no snow and ice. Ideas are pervasive. We
place them immediately and unquestioningly upon the hypothesis that
happens to fit.

The church, of eighteenth-century architecture, is the last building at
the upper end of the town. It stands on a terrace outside the lower wall
of the castle, an eloquent witness of the survival of feudal ideas. In
order that the lord of the manor need not go far to mass, when there
happened to be no private chaplain in the castle, the town-folk must
climb to their devotions. I tried the church door from habit. It was
not locked. The Artist refused to go in.

"Why should one poke around a church, especially at night and this
night?" he remonstrated, and walked over to the wall of the terrace.

"There may be something inside," I urged.

"There _is_ something outside," he answered, with his back turned upon
the castle as well as church.

I could see my way around, for the windows of nave and transept were
large, and had plain glass. Moonlight was sufficient to read
inscriptions that set forth in detail the pedigree of the chatelains.
The baptismal names overflowed a line, and were followed by a family name
almost as long, MARCH-TRIPOLY DE PANISSE-PASSIS. Longest of all was the
list of titles. The chatelains were marquesses and counts and knights of
Malta and seigneurs of a dozen domains of the northlands as well as of
Provence. March-Tripoly and some of the seigneural names told the story
that I have often read in church inscriptions near the sea in Italy, in
Hungary, in Dalmatia and in Greece, as well as in Provence and Catalonia.
The feudal families of the Mediterranean are of Teutonic and Scandinavian
origin. They were founded by the stock that destroyed the Roman Empire,
barbarians, stronger, more energetic, more resourceful, more resolute
than the southerners whom they made their serfs. When feudalism, through
the formation of larger political units by the extension of kingly
rights, began to decline, the chatelains preserved their prestige by
supporting the propaganda to redeem the Holy Sepulcher. They took the
Cross and went to fight the Saracens in Africa and Asia. When climate
rather than culture latinized them, later northmen came and dispossessed
them. The men of the north have always been fighting their way to the
Mediterranean. Are Germans and Russians disturbing the peace of Europe
any more or any differently than Northern Europeans have always done?
Since the dawn of history, the Mediterranean races have had to contend
with the men of the north seeking the sun.

Behind the church, ruins of centuries, overgrown with shrubbery and ivy,
cling to the side of the cliff from the castle to the valley road. The
great square mass of the castle rises on top of a slope far above the
church terrace. A moat, filled with bushes, is on a level with the
terrace, and beyond the moat is a wall. An unkept path leads through the
moat to a modest door. From the towers and arch above one can see that
the former entrance to the castle, by means of a portcullis, was on this
side. But the outer wall has been rebuilt, leaving only a servants'
door. Evidently the chatelain used to enter by climbing up through
Villeneuve-Loubet as we had done. Since the motor road was made on the
other side of the hill, he and his guests can ignore Villeneuve-Loubet.

The Artist was sitting on the wall of the terrace, engrossed in midnight
labor. He was willing to stop for a pipe. Above us the castle,
dominated by a pentagonal tower, rose toward the moon. Below us, the
blanched roofs of Villeneuve-Loubet slanted into the valley. As long as
the pipe lasted, I was able to talk to the Artist about the men of the
north seeking the sun. But when the bowl ceased to respond to matches,
he said; "All very well, but I know one man of the north who is going to
seek his bed."

Before reaching the Hôtel Beau-Site, however, a street on the left
attracted us. It seemed to end in a flight of steps that dipped under
arches, and we could hear the swift rush of water. We were not so sleepy
as we thought, for both of us were still willing to explore. The steps
led to the flour mill. We followed the mill-race until we reached the
Grasse tram road near the river. By the tram station, a light was
shining from the open door of a café in a wooden shanty. We went in, and
found Villeneuve-Loubet's officer of the Legion of Honor smoking his pipe
over a cup of _tilleul_.

"There has been an accident in the gorge of the Loup," he said. "The
last tram from Grasse was derailed, and two automobiles from Cagnes went
up an hour ago. As I am the _maire_, I must wait for news. There may be
something for me to do."

Monsieur le Maire told us that he had spent his life in the West African
coast trade, with headquarters in Marseilles. If he had stayed there to
end his days, he would have been one of a hundred thousand in a great
city, cast aside and ignored by the new generation. But in his native
_pays_ he was in the thick of things. To return to their old home is not
wholly a question of sentiment with Frenchmen who retire from business in
the city or the colonies. Money goes farther, and one can be an
official, with public duties and honors, and enjoy the privilege of
writing on notepaper bearing the magic heading, _République Française_.
Monsieur le Maire told us that the chatelain came often, and never forgot
to invite him to meet the guests at the castle. Some years ago I used to
think that it was a peculiar characteristic of the French to enjoy being
made much of and exercising authority. But since I have traveled in my
own and many other countries I have come to realize that this
characteristic is not peculiarly French.

When Monsieur le Maire spoke of the chatelain, I had my opening. Full of
the idea of the men of the north seeking the sun, I was ready to spread
to others the impression I had made upon myself of my own erudition and
cleverness. At the risk of boring the Artist, I repeated and enlarged
upon my deductions from the inscription of the March-Tripoly de
Panisse-Passis. Monsieur le Maire looked at me with malicious amazement.

"_La-la-la!_" he cried. "Not so fast. You haven't got it right at all,
at all, at all! The castle of Villeneuve-Loubet is the only one in this
corner of Provence that belongs to its pre-Revolutionary owners, but
there are many centuries between feudal days and our time. Castles
remain, but history changes. The March-Tripoly de Panisse-Passis are not
a feudal family, and they do not come from the north. The African part
of the name is due to an unproven claim of descent from a French consular
official in Tripoli of the sixteenth century. The château, after a
succession of proprietors, came to the Panisse family through marriage
with the daughter of a Marseilles notary, who got the château by
foreclosing a mortgage. During the Revolutionary period, the property
was saved from confiscation by a clever straddle. The owner stayed in
France, and supported the Revolution, while the son emigrated with the
Bourbons. The peerage was created just a hundred years ago by Louis
XVIII, in reward for the refusal of the Panisses to follow Napoleon a
second time after the return from Elba."

Another pervasive idea!

"The Moon got you," was the laughing comment of the Artist.

Historical reminiscences died hard, however. We discussed the possible
Saracen origin of the pentagonal tower, and the vicissitudes of the
castle during the struggles between Mohammedans and Christians, feudal
lords and kings, Catholics and Protestants, Spaniards and French.
Monsieur le Maire was a Bonapartist, and he insisted that the chief glory
of Villeneuve-Loubet was the association with Napoleon.

"When Napoleon was living at Nice," he said, "he used to come out here
often. Napoleon thought that the view of sea and mountains from
Villeneuve-Loubet was the finest on the Riviera. He could stand up there
and look out towards his native island, and contemplate the mountains the
crossing of which was his first great step to fame. Napoleon (and here
Monsieur le Maire winked at the Artist) was a man of the sun seeking the
north - just like Caesar, ho! ho!"

The arrival of the tram, which had recovered its equilibrium, helped me
to recover mine. We said good night to Monsieur le Maire, and before
turning in went out on the iron bridge that spanned the Loup.

The river, swollen by the spring thaw and rains, had overflowed its
banks, and was swirling around willows and poplars. It was not deep, and
the water flashed in the moonlight as it rippled over the stones. There
was a smell of fresh-cut logs. We looked beyond a sawmill into a gorge
of pines that ended in a transversal white mountain wall.

[Illustration: The river was swirling around willows and poplars.]

"Bully placer ground!" I exclaimed.

The Artist leaned over the bridge, looked down, and sighed just one word,
"Salmon!"

We sought the Hôtel Beau-Site in silence.

Monuments of men's making create a diversity of atmospheres and call
forth a diversity of reminiscences. They cause imagination to run riot
in history. But nature is the same the world over, and there would be
reactions and yearnings if one knew nothing of the past from books.
There is no conflict. Nature transcends. We dreamed that night not of
crusaders, but of Idaho and the Bitter Root Range.




CHAPTER V

VENCE

The most picturesque bit of mountain railway on the Riviera is the
fourteen miles from Grasse to Vence. Yielding to a sudden impulse, we
took it one afternoon. The train passed from Grasse through olive
groves and fig orchards and over two viaducts. A third viaduct of
eleven arches took us across the Loup. We were just at the season when
the melting snows made a roaring torrent of what was most of the year a
little stream lost in a wide gravel bed. The view up the gorge gave us
the feeling of being in the heart of the mountains. And yet from the
opposite windows of the train we could see the Mediterranean. Then we
circled the little town of Tourettes at the foot of the Puy de
Tourettes, with high cliffs in the background, and a wild luxurious
growth of aloes below. We almost circled the village, crossing the
ravines on either side on viaducts. A sixth long viaduct brought us to
Vence. We had a rendezvous that evening at Cannes. There was no time
to stop. We kept on to Nice to make the only connection that would get
us back to Cannes.

Afterwards the Artist and I spoke often of Vence. Twice we planned to
go to Vence, but found the fascination of Villeneuve-Loubet and
Saint-Paul-du-Var justifiable deterrents.

On the terrace of our favorite café in the Allées de la Liberté at
Cannes on Easter evening we announced the intention of making a special
trip to Vence the next day.

"Tomorrow is Easter Monday, and the children have no school," said the
Artist's hostess. "We shall make a family party of it, train to Cagnes
where I may have a chance to see your Mademoiselle Simone, a trout
luncheon at Villeneuve-Loubet with the rest of that bottle of which you
boys spoke, and Vence in the afternoon."

The orders had been given. There was an early morning stir at the
Villa Étoile, a scramble to the Théoule railway station, and before
nine o'clock we were all aboard for the hour's ride to Cagnes. When we
got off the train, there was just one _cocher_ available. He looked at
papa and mamma and Uncle Lester and the four babies and their nurse,
and raised his hands to heaven. But Villeneuve-Loubet was not far off
and we were careful to say nothing of the afternoon's program. Léonie
and the children were packed into the carriage. The rest of us
followed afoot.

Our cheerful host at Villeneuve-Loubet greeted us effusively. He had
many holiday guests, but he remembered the Artist and me, and the
splendid profit accruing from every drink out of the bottle only _les
Anglais_ called for. There were plenty of trout, fresh sliced
cucumbers, and a special soup for the kiddies. The _cocher_ was so
amenable to Léonie's charms and to drinks that cost less than ours that
he consented to further exertion for his horse. But the climb to Vence
was out of the question - a physical impossibility, he declared. And
we, having seen the horse at rest and in action, could only sorrowfully
agree. It was too much of a job to maneuver all the children (the baby
could not walk) to the tramway halt, nearly a mile away, and on and off
the cars. The mother said that she could not be a good sport to the
point of abandoning all her handicaps for several hours in a place
where the river flowed fast and deep. So it was agreed that she would
have at least the excursion to Saint-Paul-du-Var, and the Artist and I,
determined this time on Vence, would see her the next evening for
dinner at Cannes.

So we made our adieux, and hurried off to get the tram at the
bifurcation below the castle. Half an hour later our tram passed the
carriage jogging up the hill. As luck had it, we turned out just then
on a switch to let the down car pass. The temptation of Vence was too
much for Helen. The _cocher_ seemed a fatherly sort of a man. There
was a quick consultation from tram to carriage. A reunion with the
handicaps was set for two hours later in front of the triple gate of
Saint-Paul-du-Var, and another passenger got on the tram.

Around a curve we waved farewell to our children. After all, Vence was
only three miles beyond Saint-Paul. As we passed the Saint-Paul halt,
our old friend, the postman, was on the platform to receive the
mailbag. We told him that the kiddies were coming, and slipped him ten
francs to look after them until our return.

"_Soyes tranquilles, M'sieu-dame,_" he reassured us. "_Moi, je suis
grand'père._"

Beyond Saint-Paul the tramway left the road and climbed over a viaduct
to Vence.

Ventium Cassaris was a military base of great importance in the days of
imperial Rome. It was the central commissariat depot for the armies in
Gaul, and had a forum and temples. During the Middle Ages it was a
stronghold of the Holy Roman Empire. It stands on the side of a
fertile hill more than a thousand feet above the sea. The site was
probably chosen because of the wall of rocks on the north which shelter
it from the mistral, a wind that the Romans found as little to their
liking as later interlopers. In peace as in war the outside world has
never been able to keep away from the Riviera.

The Artist announced his intention of spending a couple of days
sketching, and left us to seek a hotel. Helen and I found that there
was no tram to Saint-Paul-du-Var that would enable us to pick up the
children in time for the train to Théoule unless we returned without
seeing Vence. So we decided to give an hour to the town and walk back
to Saint-Paul.

As at Grasse a boulevard runs along the line of the old fortifications.
Some of the houses facing it have used the town wall for foundations or
are themselves remnants of the wall. But at Vence the _boulevard de
l'enceinte_ is circular - a modest _Ringstrasse_, marking without
interruption the old town from the new. We dipped in and out of alleys
under arches, and made a turn of the streets of the old town. Much of
the medieval still survives in Vence, as in other hill towns of the
Riviera. But only behind the cathedral did we find a remnant of
imperial Rome. A granite column supporting an arch, and reliefs and
inscriptions built in the north wall of the cathedral, are all that we
saw of Vence's latinity.

The cathedral, however, is the most interesting we found on the
Riviera. It is a Romanesque building, built on the site of the
second-century temple, and its tall battlemented tower harks back to a
tenth-century _château fort_. The interior is striking: double aisles,
simple nave with tiers of arches of the tenth century, a choir with
richly carved oak stalls, a fourth-century sarcophagus for altar, and a
font and lectern of the Italian Renaissance.

It was just a glimpse. But sometimes glimpses make more vivid memories
than longer acquaintance. At the end of our hour we left Vence and
hurried down the broad road of red shale past meadows thick with
violets. We went through the deep pine-filled ravine over which we had
crossed on the viaduct. Then the climb to Saint-Paul-du-Var.

[Illustration: "Down the broad road of red shale past meadows thick
with violets."]

We might have taken our time. Christine and Lloyd and Mimi came
running to greet us, bringing with them little friends who had probably
never before played with children from Paris. We did not need to ask
what kind of a time they had been having. Children are the true
cosmopolitans. Hope lay under a tree on her blanket playing with her
pink shoes. Nearby, at a table in front of the Café de la Porte,
Léonie was treating the _cocher_ and the postman to a glass of beer.

"I got bread and honey and milk for the children's _goûter_," explained
Léonie, "and _Monsieur le cocher_ and I are having ours with _Monsieur
le facteur_."

As the children did not seem to be tired and the _cocher_ was in no
hurry, Helen and I made a tour of the walls, and took a photograph of
our handicaps and their faithful attendants in front of the great gate
built by Francis I, who prized Saint-Paul-du-Var as the best spot to
guard the fords of the river against Charles V.

A reader of this manuscript declares that the chapter on Vence ought to
be struck out.

"They [I suppose she means the home folks] will never understand," she
insists.

I am adamant.

"When they come to the Riviera, they will understand," I answer.

Between Saint-Raphaël and Menton the most sacred responsibilities do
not weigh one down all the time.




CHAPTER VI

MENTON

In architectural parlance the cornice is the horizontal molded
projection crowning a building, especially the uppermost member of the
entablature of an order, surmounting the frieze. The word is also used
in mountaineering to describe an overhanging mass of hardened snow at
the edge of a precipice. In the Maritime Alps it has a striking
figurative meaning. There are four _corniches_ - the main roads along
the two sections of the Riviera, Menton to Nice and Théoule to
Saint-Raphaël, where the mountains come right down to the sea and
nature affords no natural routes. The Grande Corniche and the Petite
Corniche run from Nice to Menton, and the Moyenne Corniche from Nice to
Monte Carlo. The Corniche d'Or or Corniche de l'Estérel is the new
road from Théoule to Saint-Raphaël. The word is incorrectly used, for
the most part, concerning the two coast roads, the Petite Corniche and
the Corniche l'Estérel. For although these beautiful roads do at many
points stand high above the sea, they descend as often as possible to
connect with the coast towns. But the analogy with the architectural
term is perfect in so far as the Grande Corniche and the Moyenne
Corniche are concerned. At every point these wonderful roads,
undisturbed by tramways and unbroken by towns (except La Turbie on the
Grande Corniche and Éze on the Moyenne Corniche), you feel that you are
traveling along a horizontal molded projection above temples built with
hands and the activities of humankind.

From Nice to the Italian frontier the railway, darting in and out of
tunnels, keeps near sea level. A small branch climbs from Monte Carlo
to La Turbie. The tramway from Nice to Menton follows the Petite
Corniche, with a branch to Saint-Jean on Cap Ferrat.

For tourists, Nice is the center of the Riviera, the place to come back
to every night after day excursions. Everything is so near that this
is possible. Nice is the terminus of railways and tramways east and
west. It is the home of the ubiquitous Cook. You can buy all sorts of
excursion tickets, and by watching the bulletin posted in front of the
Cook office on the Promenade des Anglais, it is possible to "cover" the
Riviera in a fortnight. But this means a constant rush, perched on a
high seat, crowded in with twenty others, on a _char à banes_, and only
a kaleidoscopic vision of Mediterranean blue, hillside and valley green
and brown, roof-top red, wall gray and mountain white. At the end of
your orgy, instead of distinct pictures, you carry away an impression
of the Riviera in which the Place Masséna is a concrete image and the
rest no more than dancing bits of colored glass. Saint-Raphaël and
Menton are the luncheon breaks of two days, and the Grande Corniche is
a beautiful vague mountain road over which you whizzed.

And yet there are those who go to the Riviera every year for a daily
ride over the Grande Corniche, and who dream during ten months of two
months at Menton!

Sitting with our legs daggling over the stone coping at the entrance of
the port in Nice, the Artist and I figured out - on the basis of just
time for a glimpse and a few sketches - how long it would take us to
wander through the Riviera. Reserving March and April each year, we
discovered that the allotted three score and ten, seeing that we had
already come to half the span, would be inadequate. And there were
other parts of the world! So we decided to see what we could, eschew
the "day excursions," draw on the memories of former years, and let it
go at that. Grande Corniche and Moyenne Corniche would be explored
afoot on sunny days and gray; shelter would be sought at Menton; and on
the return to Nice, Monte Carlo and Villefranche would be the only
tramway stops for us.

To Ventimiglia, as if he foresaw what part of the Riviera would
eventually fall to France, Napoleon I was the builder of La Grande
Corniche. His engineers, planning for horse-drawn vehicles in an age
when time was not money, made the ascent easy by striking inland for
several kilometers up from the valley of the Paillon and circling Mont
Gros and Mont Vinaigrier. For the first two miles you have Nice and
Cimiez below you. Then the road turns, passes the observatory of
Bischoffsheim (who won posthumous fame by his having built the house
where Wilson lost the battle of Paris in 1919), and goes over the Col
des Quatre Chemins. Here begins the matchless succession of views of
the loveliest portion of the Riviera coast. Below you is the harbor of
Villefranche, between Montboron, which hides Nice, and Cap Ferrat
jutting far into the sea with Cap de l'Hospice breaking out to the
left. The sea is always on your right as you continue to climb.
Ancient Éze is on a lower hill midway between you and the
Mediterranean. If you have made an early start from Nice, La Turbie
will come most conveniently in sight a little before noon.

The only town of the Grande Corniche high up from the sea is on the
line given in ancient maps as the frontier between Gaul and Italy, and
it is evident that the Roman road followed here the route chosen by
Napoleon. For here the Senate raised the _trophaeum Augusti_ to
commemorate the subjugation of the Gauls and the new era of
tranquillity from invasion for the Empire. On its site one of the most
interesting medieval towers in southern France was the ruin par
excellence of the Riviera until a few years ago. It is now "restored"
so well that it leaves nothing to the imagination - a crime quite in
keeping with the spirit of the new age of the "movies." Its architect
wanted you to see at a glance just what it used to be. You feel that
he would have put arms on the Venus de Milo! As we stood there, a
guide came up and began to tell us the history of the tower. We moved
over to the terrace. From Montboron to Bordighera the Riviera lay
below us, a panorama which commanded silence. Up came the guide
fellow, and started to name each place.

"I am about to commit murder," I cried.

"I'll save you the bother by telling him to chase himself with this
franc," said the Artist, pulling out the coin. "If only the restorer
of the Tower of Augustus were around, he'd come in for a franc too."

La Turbie is not a town to hurry away from after lunch. Its old
gateways and leaning houses brought out the Artist's pencil. I tried


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