Fritz Theyer - Nietzsche in Nice
Let's set the stage: many years ago, my wife and I (I've honestly forgotten whether we were actually married then!) found ourselves in Eze in southernmost (Mediterranean) France, one of those picture-book fishing villages, with all those beautifully-painted rowing boats. The day was absolutely perfect: softly azure sky and ocean, very still, mild and warm. We had come by train from Nice and it was morning.
Although we both love the ocean, we were actually living in Honolulu at the time, so we might be forgiven for not going out in the water, but toying with the idea of a rather longish hike up a relatively steep path to the medieval village above, Eze-sur-Mere.
This wasn't just any path, mind you, because in addition to many other notables and many non-notables, Nietzsche himself (supposedly?) climbed up this path and thus dreamed up "Also Sprach Zarathustra". Whether this is a fact, I don't know. Let's just say that it was a stunning climb that took a while (hours?) and certainly jogged your memory and stirred your imagination, as well as taking your breath away, both from the exertion and the scenery unfolding below.
Undoubtedly, if one had Nietzschean faculties, one could come up with a new insight into the human condition (perhaps some new "paradigm", to use a more up-to-the-second word). We, however, just bantered on and immensely enjoyed the fact that we were alive that moment! Halfway up we stopped at a little shack that was run by some minor eccentric (post-hippie?) gentleman who sold us some beverage and chatted with us a bit (I actually will get to the food!). On we climbed and reached Eze-above-the-sea, tiny and convoluted, medieval, and perched way above the Mediterranean.
We poked around in this charming little place, which really gave me feeling of being a toy village, not really meant for humans. Alas, all this brought us to noonish and lunch (yes, here comes the food part)! We didn't have much choice here, so we went to this inn which, like the village itself, precariously balanced itself at the very top of the high cliff.
We were seated outside, overlooking the immense blueness of the sky and the ocean. There was the slightest hint of smog, which actually added to the beauty of it all. Now, once we were seated, I don't think we exchanged another word: this ineffable peace descended upon us and we ate a wonderful lunch, drank some wine, and just sat there. I do know that there were shrimp involved in the lunch (several courses were served) and that the desert was a "surprise of the house" (there's French technical term that describes this sort of thing, surely you know it?), involving a complex structure with figs, walnuts and a caramelizing of some sort, which was the (again!?) picture-perfect ending for this memorable event and feast.
I don't remember how we got back down to Eze and our train, and it really doesn't matter. I just think that all of us should have, each in our own way, a glorious day like that folded away in our memories.
Fritz Theyer, Fritz@Theyer.com