A former New Yorker, I’ve been based in the south of France since 1988. While I was growing up, I remember paging through a book about Matisse’s early period in Nice and wanting to live inside his paintings. The Côte d’Azur’s pure colours still amaze me – I recently co-authored a book, Moving Toward the Light (ACC Editions, €65), about the American painter Joseph Raffael, who’s based on the Cap d’Antibes.
I love living in a place where you find snowy white almond trees bossoming in January and fuzzy yellow mimosa trees in February. But maybe best of all, you can eat fried courgette flowers washed down with chilled local rosé all year round.
Lunch for lovers
Michelin-starred chef Axel Wagner serves a superb three-course ‘Menu du Château’ lunch of Mediterranean classics at the Château Eza in Eze Village. Book the private table on the terrasse for a panoramic coastal view. €52 per person. www.chateaueza.com 
Scott & Zelda
Stay in a sumptuous Art Deco suite with a spectacular view of the sparkling sea at the Hôtel Belles Rives in Juan-les-Pins, where Scott F Fitzgerald worked on Tender is the Night in 1926. €300 per night. www.bellesrives.com 
More than just candles, these delicate fragrant, 100 per cent natural scents created by renowned perfume makers in Grasse not only last 60 hours but also come with an elegant, custom-designed Limoges porcelain holder. €89 each. www.facebook.com/MonBazarNice 
Aperitif to go
Check out this Nice boutique, which is crammed with local cheeses, sausages, olives and other nibbles. The best bets are the Le Bellet Clos Saint-Joseph white wine and crispy Socca Chips, both of which are made in Nice. Wine: €28, chips: €4.50. www.aperitiv.fr 
A cuddly version of Nice’s treacherous beach galets, these pebble-shaped Colorstones floor cushions, designed by local artist Stephanie Marin, come in all hues, shapes and sizes. From €89. www.smarin.net 
Don’t miss a viewing of the heavenly blue monochromes of Niçois artist Yves Klein, whose work is on display as part of the permanent collection at the Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain (MAMAC) in Nice. €10. www.mamac-nice.org 
Head for Jan, a stylish restaurant in Nice’s trendy portside quartier, where chef Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen, mixes South African recipes inspired by his grandmother’s cooking with wildly creative modern French cuisine. €75 prix fixe, per person. www.restaurantjan.com 
Escape to the country at the Terre Blanche Spa near Tourrettes and indulge in a 50-minute massage with a mix of fragrant Provençal essential oils, then re-energize in the heated indoor pool, sauna and hammam. €175. www.terre-blanche.com 
La Chemise Tropezienne produce luxurious, hand-printed men’s shirts in light, soft cotton, which are exclusively made in St Tropez, and come in 16 beachy shades of blue, green, cream, party pinks and coral. €185. www.lachemisetropezienne.com 
Scoop up a packable canister of fruity oil, produced at the family-run Alziari olive mill, whose boutique in Vieux Nice has become a landmark for top quality. €16 for 500ml. www.alziari.com.fr 
From France Today magazine