LE BANTHAI IN NICE TAKES YOU ON A CULINARY JOURNEY TO THAILAND

Nouvet article pour Riviera Buzz. (New article for Riviera Buzz).

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Le Banthai in Vieux Nice offers an authentic Thai experience, completely immersing its patrons in the spices and flavours of south-east Asia.

Good news for the numerous affficionados of food from the kingdom of Siam, as they can now find fulfilment and happiness right in the middle of Vieux Nice. Le Banthai, which opened in 2013, is owned and run by a friendly niçoiswho spent 20 years in Thailand. The chef, who is also his wife, is Thai, and together, they have created a ten-dish menu that covers everything from tourists favorites to local classics, with products that are fresh from the market.

The house specials include the Tom Yum kong, a bold and refreshing mix of ancient plants (ginger, lemongrass, and galangal) with mushrooms and prawns, the Gaeng Daeng, a mild red curry paste perfumed with coconut milk, the Moo Deng, a pork filet roasted filet roasted with spices, and the Lab, the traditional dish from Issan, which consists of a thinly sliced meat with a base of shallots, chives, coriander and mint.

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Of course, no real Thai menu would be complete without some pad Thai, this stir-fried rice noodle dish commonly served as a street food all over the country. Le Banthai also offers a few additional dishes that can include a curry to vegetable nems. Rice can be ordered on the side and for those who are still feeling peckish, the desert of the day is always a nice way to end the meal.

When all is said and done, it doesn’t really matter which dish you choose, you are sure to leave delighted from this culinary journey to Thailand. It is so rare nowadays to find a restaurant of such quality and at such reasonable prices (all the main dishes, whether on the menu or not, cost €12), so do not deny yourself the pleasure. Beware though: the place only has a few tables and is always crowded, so be sure to book early!

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Le Banthai is open every day (except Wednesday) from 11 am to 3 pm and from 6 pm to 10:30 pm.

CONTACT DETAILS
Le Banthai
29 rue Droite
06300 Nice

Tel: 09.73.57.19.06 
All images courtesy Le Banthai Facebook page

REMEMBERING CHARLOTTE SALOMON AND HER LIFE ON THE FRENCH RIVIERA

Dernier article en date pour Riviera Buzz. (Latest article to date for Riviera Buzz).

Charlotte Salomon

German artist Charlotte Salomon created her greatest work whilst living on the French Riviera, before being deported to her death in Auschwitz.

Last Wednesday, popular author David Foenkinos was awarded the Renaudot, probably France’s most prestigious literary prize after the Goncourt, for his latest book, Charlotte, which recounts the real life story of painter Charlotte Salomon. A perfect occasion to discover, or rediscover, the tragic tale of this young German artist who created her original and compelling artwork, Life? Or Theater? An Operetta, right here on the French Riviera, while living as a refugee from Nazism.

Structured like a play and comprising various scenes, dialogues and musical references, this massive work is a testament to Salomon’s unique artistic vision but also to her life, which started on the 16th of April, 1917 in Berlin. Born to Albert Salomon, a surgeon, and Fränze Grunwald, she was, despite her father’s reluctance, named after her deceased aunt. When she was only nine, Charlotte’s mother committed suicide — in order to protect her from her maternal family’s terrible secret, the little girl was told that she had died of influenza.

After the Nazis came to power in 1933, the young Charlotte had to drop out from school. She still managed however to get admitted a few years later to the prestigious State Art Academy in Berlin which only allowed 1.5% of Jews. This is during that time that she met and fell in love with Alfred Wolfson, a Jewish musician twice her age, who became the first person to believe in her. But then came the Kristallnacht in 1938, and Charlotte was sent to live with her maternal grandparents who had found refuge in a beautiful villa, l’Ermitage located in Villefranche, at the invitation of Ottilie Moore, a wealthy American of German origin.

The reprieve did not last long. Soon after she arrived, her grandmother committed suicide in 1940 and Charlottefinally learned the awful truth that had long been hidden from her, that eight other members of her family, including her mother and aunt, had also taken their own lives. Terribly distraught and convinced she would be next, the young woman then decided to break the vicious circle and “to paint her life rather than to take it.” To do so, she moved to Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat and in the gardens of the Hôtel Belle Aurore, overlooking the Mediterranean, she started working on her masterpiece. In the space of two years, the young artist produced more than 1,370 notebook-size gouache paintings – only 795 were kept for the final version – with bright colours used to recount her early life, gradually darkening as the story moved along. To coordinate the various drawings, she included dialogues, at timeswitty, ironic or sad, to introduce the characters, scenes and situations, as well as some music, both classical (Schubert, Bizet…) and popular (famous German songs), anthems and even prayers. The project was finished in 1942 and if it may have been intended as a diary, the final result is first and foremost a spectacular and deeply moving piece of art.

In one of the latest captions accompanying her paintings, Charlotte wrote “I will live my life for them all.” She unfortunately never had the time. In September 1943, the Italians, who until then had occupied the south of France, surrendered and the Germans moved into Nice. Soon thereafter, Nazi war criminal Alois Brunner, a top aide to Adolf Eichmann, started organizing some of the war’s most violent raids and on September 24th, 1943, Charlotte and her husband were arrested in Villefranche. Deported to Auschwitz, Charlotte who was four-months pregnant, was immediately sent to her death.

Her short legacy however did survive. Probably feeling that she was in danger, Charlotte had managed to entrust her work to her physician and friend, Dr. Moridis of Villefranche. “Keep this safe. It is my whole life,” shortly after finishing it. Dedicated to Ottilie Moore, it was donated to the Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam by Charlotte’s father and stepmother after the war.

Lead image Charlotte S“ von Charlotte Salomon – Museum page. Lizenziert unter Public domain über Wikimedia Commons

THE BEAUTIFUL AND THE DAMNED: THE TRAGIC LOVE STORY OF ZELDA AND SCOTT

Nouvel article pour Riviera Buzz (New article for Riviera Buzz)

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A tragic love story that still fascinates almost a century later, French author Renaud Meyer’s latest play Zelda and Scott is coming to the Riviera.

They had it all. He was a youngbrilliant and successful author whose most famous works, The Great Gatsby and Tender is the Night, are considered some of the greatest novels of the last century. She was a beautifulpopular and eccentric southern belle who grew up in a wealthy family and was indulged by her mother. And together, as a couple, they became the epitome of both the follies of the roaring 20s and the despair of the Lost Generation.

More than 90 years later, the story of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzerald still fascinates, and this is why Meyer chose them as the heroes of his latest play, simply titled Zelda and Scott, which is coming to the French Riviera this month. For two hours, the story takes us to New York where the two have just fallen madly in love and then moves to the terrace of a hotel in Cannes where the couple led a life of excess, before ending in a psychiatric hospital where Zelda is being treated for schizophrenia.

The play has all the required elements of a perfect drama: literary successes, a decadent lifestyle, acts of outrageous behaviour (they were regularly thrown out of hotels and the homes of friends), bouts with alcoholismjealousyinsanity… “Show me a hero and I will write you a tragedy”, Fitzerald once wrote, and it seems like that is exactly what he and his muse managed to do with their own lives.

After a successful run in Paris, the play is now touring France and will stop in Monaco on the 9th of November and in Cannes on the 21st.

Just as Woody Allen’s latest movie Magic in the Moonlight pays tribute to our region at a time, the Jazz age, where it was the favorite playground of wealthy American and English expatriates, this great play reminds us of the flip side of paradise.

Zelda and Scott plays at the Théâtre Princesse Grace in Monaco at 3 pm on Sunday, 9th November and at the Palais des Festivals in Cannes at 8:30 pm on Friday, 21st of November. 

STRANDED TER PASSENGERS HAVE NOW FOUND THEIR VOICE

Article de la semaine pour Riviera Buzz (Article of the week for Riviera Buzz)

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The daily commute by train between Grasse and Menton is increasingly becoming a source of frustration for those reliant on the service.

If you are one of those commuters who take the train on a daily basis between Grasse and Menton, there is now more than a one in four chance that your TERtrain express regional – will be delayed or even cancelled. This is how bad the commute has become in our region. And that is on a normal day!

Throw in the numerous strikes, the overcrowded trains, the unexpected “technical problems”, the lack of reliable information…All in all, the journey is rarely a pleasant experience and the prospect of a train from Cagnes to Monaco every 15 minutes during peak hours (6:30 – 9 am and 4:30 – 7 pm) is still, sadly, a long way off.

Nearly 100,000 people take the train every day in Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur. The region has been hoping that the TER would provide a viable alternative to cars – In 2008, the Monegasque government even decided to participate in the effort by buying five new double-deckers in the principality’s colours – but over the last few months, more and more people, tired of all those disagreements and afraid of losing their jobs, seem to have given up on the SNCF TER and reverted back to taking their cars.

One of those ex-commuters, Eric Saury, refuses however to remain silent and accept the “unacceptable.” The man behind the 2007 blog les naufragés du TER Grasse-Vintimille – “the stranded passengers of the TER” –, or the NTGV, has recently decided to revive this essential source of information for commuters and has been very vocal in various media outlets about the deterioration of the local train system. A Facebook page has been set up, giving the latest traffic news, but first and foremost providing a platform for people to share their experience and startpetitions.

Train passengers probably still face a long road ahead before seeing any improvements in their daily commute but at least they have now found a voice and know they are no longer alone in their misery.

photo of Gare de Monaco © NTGV