Wednesday, 1 March 2017

How my life in France inspired Rosie’s Little Cafe on the Riviera by Jennifer Bohnet

The word ‘French’ maybe missing from the title of my latest book ‘Rosie’s Little Cafe on the Riviera but her dream cafe is on the Cote d’Azur, part of the French Riviera where I lived very happily for eleven years. The year round sunshine was wonderful but the summer heat was something else!

I like to use authentic settings in my stories and in telling Rosie’s story I have tried to give a true flavour of the special place the Cote d’Azur is without being too specific with details.  For instance, I know the exact spot where Rosie’s café is situated  but I’ve left the location vague in the book. It’s somewhere a very dear friend took my husband and I for lunch one day and I knew immediately it had to feature in a story! It’s such a special place in a sheltered cove right on the beach. In ‘life before France’ I did run a beach restaurant so I had very little research to do for that aspect of the story, although I have to say running a French cafe does seem to generate a lot more paperwork than I remember having to cope with.

Rosie’s cafe is on the beach so everyday she sees the super-yachts that glide up and down the coast, occasionally ferrying celebrities into port for dinner at one of the Michelin starred restaurants. Yachts like ‘A Sure Thing’ that she was chef on while she saved enough to open her dream cafe. Although I made up the name ‘A Sure Thing’ and didn’t base the yacht on any particular one, I did wangle an invitation to go on board one to get the atmosphere right and to talk to the crew. A job on one of the super yachts as a deckhand or steward is the dream of many a gap year student and they flock to the ports like Antibes and Nice in early Spring, hoping to secure a job for the summer.

The Cupboard Under the Stairs, the shop that belongs to Erica, one of Rosie’s new friends is totally an invention of mine, although I do admit it is loosely based on a shop that I stumbled across one afternoon in Antibes. There are so many chic boutiques selling all manner of things along the coast - herbs, candles, pictures, kitchen ware, furniture,
clothes, plaques, books, pottery etc.etc. I wanted Erica’s shop to be a real treasure trove of unexpected things which is why I made it a mixture of secondhand and new things. 

GeeGee, another new friend of Rosie’s in the book, is an estate agent. I have a guilty secret - I love looking at houses and visualising what I could do to them! I spent a lot of time when we lived down south, ogling the pictures of villas in up-market estate agents windows that I could never afford in a million years. Spending time on the internet researching luxury property for GeeGee to sell was no hardship!

The train ride Rosie takes along the coast to Monaco to visit her mother, is one I took many times and absolutely loved it every time. The Mediterranean on one side, busy roads, high rise buildings, houses and glimpses of private bougainvillea covered villas on the other. Looking inland, the hilltop village of St.Paul de-Vence is an iconic landmark along this part of the coast and the fishing village of Villefranch-sur-Mer nestling down on the coast has one of the deepest natural harbours of the Mediterranean. So much to look at - in between tunnels! Lots of tunnels along this particular line including that final, over a mile long one, into Monaco station from Cap d’Ail.

I hope I’ve given you a flavour of the setting for Rosie’s Little Cafe on the Riviera. The Cote d’Azur is a special place or so many reasons.

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1 comment:

  1. Just discovered this and am looking forward to reading it. I lived in Paris for a short time and still dream about it. Cheers.