jeudi 7 juillet 2011

La cerise sur le gateau

Here in the South of France, particularly along the sea, the homes stack up along the hillsides like multi-layered cakes. Between towers and turrets, garnished with terraced gardens, the Cote d'Azur can be a veritable wedding feast for the eyes. Most of these architectural confections are frosted in the typical Provençal earth tones, but others are iced with a little more fantaisie: vanilla white, buttercream yellow, pale turquoise and, as I recently discovered, bubblegum pink!

A few tiers up from La Villa des Naiads sits perhaps the only pink maison I know of in Marseilles, just barely visible from the street, complete with a candy-striped awning and coordinating deck chairs. Think of the scrumptious audacity of that! If your imagination runs away with you, you might imagine some old rich French lady on that hill, living in an all-pink universe with a trained poodle, simply because she can. (Well, you say, it's better than a red-and-purple universe!)

And yet, is it necessarily a woman's abode? In France, colors are slightly more gender-neutral than, say, in the U.S. Men can wear a pink dress shirt, for example, without a question mark hovering over their masculinity. Cotton candy in French is called barbe à papa, "daddy's beard". So the question is, if I ever hiked up to the house perched in pink one day, to compliment the owner on the paint job, who would I find? A man? A woman? A modern day version of Hansel & Gretel's witch? Thanks to our pink paparazzi, we do have some zoomed-in shots. Indeed, by the looks of it, there has been someone nibbling on that roof!

la cerise sur le gateau: expression, literally "the cherry on the cake" (the equivalent of the icing on the cake).
fantaisie: whimsy, fancy
maison: house, home