La Dolce Vita on the Riviera


The good life on the Riviera begins at a young age, as this excerpt from “Over Stuffed Mushrooms, Tim Comes of Age,” in Missing the Bus, Making the Connection: Tales and Tastes of Travel will attest:

Returning to Windsor from France was tough for Tim. He was now entering his last year of high school and home alone…He was restless to get on with his life and to him Windsor seemed hopelessly provincial and restrictive after the Cote d’Azur. Over and over again that year, he complained about the poor choice of dry roses in the liquor store.

We tried to boost his spirits by eating out a lot, playing tennis, and going to the movies. It helped, but still he grumbled. Compared to Nice the food in Windsor restaurants was indifferent; the hard courts were pedestrian after la terre battue, and he had preferred going to the films in Monte Carlo, where one night Boris Becker sat behind us munching on a big box of popcorn. Besides, he complained, it wasn’t the same as when all five of us used to pile into the car with a big picnic dinner and go the drive-in. “You know that film, ‘Swedish Fly Girl’?” he asked me. “We never actually saw it, did we?”

“No,” I laughed. “We couldn’t have; it was restricted…We could see it now,” I said encouragingly to Tim. “Maybe we could get it at a video shop.”

“Naw,” he sighed resignedly. “Wouldn’t be the same as at a drive-in.”

Tim waxing nostalgic. We knew, indeed, he had grown up.

In fact, I remember precisely the night he came of age. It had been the previous spring at a party at Vladimir’s–the man who came to La Colla (our villa) to get his free-range eggs from the princess…we were all there at a big, boisterous function that spilled from their expansive living room onto the candlelit patio with the lights of Menton glittering below like diamonds and ovals of amber trailing from the diaphanous gown of a grand duchess…

Beside me now was a beautiful young woman in a bright-red tunic and short blue skirt that showed off her shapely legs to well above her knees. She had blond hair that glimmered and curled seductively above her shoulders. It bounced lightly when she tilted her head, her blue eyes sparkling at me alone…conversation proved animated and easy. The upcoming Grand Prix at Monte Carlo, the Cannes film festival, the best restaurants at Antibes and Villefranche.

Until, that is, I asked her about her occupation.

“I’m an airline hostess. For Scandinavian.”

“No kidding?” I tried to sound nonchalant, but I couldn’t control the grin that quickly spread across my face and just stuck there. A Swedish fly girl! I’m actually talking to a Swedish fly girl! And she’s enjoying our conversation! This is fantastic!

From that moment on, however, I couldn’t concentrate on what she or I said. All I could think was, A Swedish fly girl! Wait til I tell the others!

(D)riving home…I burst out excitedly, “Guess what? You won’t believe whom I was talking to?”

“Who? Who?” Dot and Deb were eager to hear.

“A Swedish fly girl! Can you believe it?”


“Yeah,” Tim interjected, glancing at me. “I met her,too. Got a date for tomorrow. We’re playing tennis at the club, and doing lunch.”

“But, but she’s too old for you!” I stammered.

“Yeah?” he smiled slyly.

Cut out by my son, living the Riviera high life.

He had come of age.

To read the full story and other entertaining travel tales (and to see the recipe for “Get Stuffed Mushrooms” that goes with this chapter) buy your own copy of Missing the Bus, Making the Connection at

About t. a. keenleyside

author of travel/food books and popular fiction
This entry was posted in biography, contemporary culture, family literature, travel books and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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