Nice, city of expatriation: the example of Romain Gary
Reading of "La Promesse de l'Aube", an "almost autobiographical novel", published by Gallimard in the beautiful NRF collection, by Romain Gary who tells us about his mother, a lot, but also about Nice and the French Riviera . Some quotes and modest reflections concerning the Riviera ties of the adopted writer from Nice.
"The Promise of Dawn" by Romain Gary from Nice
The story of a young Polish boy raised alone by his mother. We know the link between Nice and Poland, for example at the chapel of the Holy Sepulcher, place Garibaldi, or even at the level of the Majestic at the bottom of the boulevard de Cimez. A suffocating, excessive, certainly toxic but madly loving mother. Of a love that gives confidence and releases, gives wings. A mother who transposes almost all her desires for revenge on the world on the shoulders of this son who will end up as a French diplomat, an unconditional Gaullist, a war aviator, a famous writer and an adopted citizen of Nice.
Nice and France, Eldorado and promised land for many
Troubled period between the two world wars in the depths of present-day Lithuania with gray landscapes and this woman who promises this young boy the blue sky from here. A hectic life, far from a daily train, skinned alive with love for adventure, women and life. To die for. Romain Gary, whose library bears the name in Nice, evokes his memories of Nice many times. The boarding house run by his mother on boulevard Grosso, the Buffa market, the Lycée Masséna, the Promenade des Anglais regularly come up over the pages of "The Promise of Dawn". A small book to consult, "Romain Gary Promenade in Nice" published by "Baie des Anges", written by Carine Marret, the specialist, among others, from Gary to Nice, offers you an exhaustive overview of his journey on the Côte d'Azur .
Nice cosmopolitan city
Nice that makes the whole world dream. Nice inventor, in a way, of international tourism. Nice gateway between the Alps and the sea. Nice link between Turin, Piedmont and the Mediterranean. Nice inevitable passage between Provence and present-day Italy, and this since prehistoric ages as evidenced by Terra Amata and the Lazaret cave in the Port district. Nice and the Côte d'Azur, a land of asylum for both the international jet set and the hordes of tourists in search of wonder and riches, etc. The identity of the city is unquestionably passed through the world as she never stopped welcoming. If you had any doubts and rather than a long enumeration here, do not hesitate to consult the Wikipedia page devoted to Nice personalities to convince yourself.
Conquered by this breathtaking and beautifully written book, which we recommend you read especially for his look at Nice, we have retained some short extracts relating, among other things, the love of Romain Gary for Nice:
About Nice and the French Riviera
- "We settled in a boarding house, rue de la Buffa ... ... I ran to renew my friendship with the sea. She recognized me immediately and came to lick my toes".
- “The Buffa market, smaller than that of the old town ... mainly served pensions in the Gambetta Boulevard area. It was a place of accents, smells and colors ... huge boots of carnations and mimosa always found a way to arise unexpectedly. ... Each time I come back to Nice, I go to the Buffa market. I wander for a long time among leeks, asparagus..."
- "... after fifteen years in contact with French reality, in Nice, where we had come to settle down, ... she continued to evoke, with the same confident smile, this marvelous country which she had brought with her in her bundle..."
- "... Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth of England ... was reviewing my squadron ... stopped in front of me ... asked me which region I was from. I replied, tactfully, "Nice" so as not to complicate matters ..."
- "... the only feat I could accomplish ... was to win the Nice ping-pong championship in 1932."
- "... I trained every day in the" big blue ", a bathing establishment which has disappeared today - but I only managed to rank eleventh in the crossing of the Baie des Anges - and, once more, I had to fall back on literature like other failures."
- On the Promenade des Anglais: "But the oldest civilization in the world, with its smiling understanding of human nature and its fallibilities, with its sense of compromise and arrangements, came to my rescue. The Mediterranean had lived for too long with the sun to treat it as an enemy and it tilted its face with a thousand pardons on me.”
- "... each olive tree was a sign of friendship and the Mediterranean came towards me over the cypresses and pines ..." "this landscape where the olive trees, the vines, the orange trees seemed to be running from all sides to welcome me ..."
About his mother:
- "... my mother's extraordinary extravagance ... and above all her determination to maintain, whatever the cost, a facade of prosperity, not to let the rumor spread that the affair collapsed because, in the capricious snobbery that drives the customers to give their favors ... success plays an essential role: at the slightest sign of material difficulties these ladies pout, go elsewhere or try to grab you a lower and lower price, thus accelerating the movement until the final fall."
- "Our financial situation worsened at that time once again. The economic crisis of 1929 now had its repercussions on the Côte d‘Azur ...".
- “With maternal love, life makes you a promise at dawn that it never keeps. We are then forced to eat cold until the end of our days."
Other Romain Gary quotes :
- “Decided to do in engineering, I could only run out of talent. "
- "Humor is a declaration of dignity, an affirmation of man's superiority over what happens to him."
- “I have not feared ridicule for a long time; I know today that man is something that cannot be ridiculed."
- About her African partner: "... she had such good living eyes that I have never known where to go since."