I spent last week in the south of France. It was a nice week, although it could be successfully argued that sitting at this desk watching the fall leaves flutter from their summer trees is much more relaxing than traveling across France with my children in tow. The sights and sounds of another land are always of interest to me, no matter the complexities that arise from my host country not having the sheer decency to adopt my language of proficiency, and choice. The travels were good and the travels were meaningful, but something happened on that trip that you should know about.
This summer it was known that I sold two homes high on the tip of Cedar Point. If you didn’t know about those Lake Geneva lakefront sales, then you haven’t been paying attention as closely as I had assumed. Those homes were different, but the location was quite the same. I showed both homes often over the course of the summer, yet no matter how many times I walked in and out to the lakeside patios or decks I was struck by the strength of that view. Remember, I show lakefront homes nearly every day, and I spent the first 18 years of my life in a lakefront home on this same lake, so my awareness of the view should have, by this point, waned. And if not waned, then certainly softened, and if not softened then certainly faded. Yet this view, over the course of this summer, from those two elevated lakefront homes continued to capture my attention. Lots of stairs to the water, sure, but that view, man. That view.
Last week I stayed for a while at a hotel with a golden goat, in a seaside village that is more cliff-side than sea-side. The hotel was stunning, the food commendable, the $12 lemon tart smaller than a golf ball. There was a chef event in the village of Eze that weekend, so the streets were crowded with people, the smell of breads and paella and charcoal kissed lamb filling the cool Mediterranean air. I spend some time lounging here, though most of the time was spent climbing the steeply positioned stairs (railings, seemingly optional) from one terrace to another, each level backdropped by an endless view of Cap Ferrat, Antibes and the sparkling azure sea. No matter where you walked here, the sea was there. Below you. Next to you. In front of you. The view was unavoidable.
Rather than have that view remind me of other sea views I’ve have the privilege of seeing, whether that be from the sea-side a California or the palm-tree filled islands of the Floridian Gulf, or the serious views off the sides of Kauai, the views from Eze and that goat hotel reminded me the most of the view from the very tip of Cedar Point. The view from 246 or 250 Circle or the view from Eze, which one would I prefer? I cannot easily choose, but if I were to come to a conclusion, the misery of air travel would need to be factored in and with that, I would choose the tip of Cedar Point. The croissants at Simple are not of French quality, but in a pinch, they’ll do.
But the market doesn’t necessarily agree with me. The market is conditioned to want level frontage. 100′ and level, they say. Eighty-two feet and level is better than one hundred feet in the air, the market insists. But I say the market is wrong. The market is soft. The market doesn’t understand that the views that are captured from elevated perches can easily and thoroughly wipe away the temporary pain of climbing a few steps. The Provencal villages of note tend to have similar characteristics. Lots of narrow, squiggly paths, lined with cobblestones of varying makes and models. Lots of pastries. Lots of shops to buy bags filled with dried lavender. But the most defining characteristic is their elevation. These are mountain-top villages, positioned for safety and awareness.
A vantage point is the position from which something is viewed or considered. This is why if you wish to view or consider this lake, whether that consideration be paid on a dazzling October Sunday like the one just ended, or on a drizzly Monday morning from which I write you today, shouldn’t your view be the best view possible? If the answer is yes, then eschew what the market tells you and look to the peaks. Look to the hills. Look to the points. Climb a few steps to find that view, and once you’re there, sit for a while. Take it all in. If you’re doing it right, if won’t be so hard to imagine that you’re looking out at the Mediterranean, but, as an important improvement, ordering dinner won’t be even remotely difficult.