Claire Obry is one of the two CEOs of French Wink. She grew up in Nice and lived there until 2011, when she decided to head to New York to live with her husband, one twin under each arm. In her new adoptive city, Claire created French Wink in 2015 in the goal of bringing together several companies centered on French know-how under one label. Myline joined her after a year, bringing her expertise on retail and curation, which created the fabulous duo that we now know! Today, Claire is going to speak with us about her hometown and the South of France that she loves so dearly. She gave us all her answers and guides us off the beaten path from her little corner of paradise!
French Wink: When you close your eyes and think about the South of France that you were born in, what are the first images that come to mind?
Claire Obry: For me, the South immediately brings to mind my father, friends, rosé, my grandmother’s cooking, but also the Vis river in the Cévennes. The Cévennes are truly my entire childhood and also my great-grandparents’ country. There, one eats pélardon (a little cheese made with uncooked goat milk) and Cévenole sausage.
Which smells make you think of the South?
Smells of delicious food, of course! Barbecues, simmering slow-cookers, and then -- it's quite hard to describe -- the smell of the sun...
What songs bring you back to this South of France that you love so dearly?
At French Wink, we made a playlist for all these songs that remind us of France and more often, for me, the South. Have a listen!
Where do you recommend taking strolls as a family in Nice?
It's a big cliché but we don’t get tired of it… I recommend walking or rollerblading along the Bay of Angels. It actually stretches from Nice to the Cap d’Antibes. Strolling along the queen’s string of pearls (the lampposts on the Promenade des Anglais), going out to sea on “pointus” (small boats whose stern is as pointy as their prow), admiring the azure blue and the water’s edge, with blue chairs… Just talking about it gives me goose bumps. My city is so beautiful!
Which Nice streets are good to get lost in?
I would say that you have to go explore Old Nice, with its spice smells and its ochre and red colors… and the thousands of tones between the two. You can wander along the city’s main thoroughfare, the cours Saleya, and discover its flower and flea markets. Finish it off with a drink on place Garibaldi or rue Bonaparte, which looks like the Marais neighborhood in Paris, but Nice-style. There’s always a great ambiance!
What are Nice's culinary specialities?
It’s very difficult to make a choice but I would begin with pissaladière, socca, pan bagna, pesto soup, chard pie, Niçoise salad, anything stuffed, zucchini flower fritters… Even so, I’m leaving out a lot of things! There is a multitude of specialties that will delight you and that you must absolutely test while there.
Other than Nice, which coastal city is really worth stopping by?
In my opinion, it’s Saint-Tropez, for its cove hidden behind the port, fish caught the morning of, and eating with your feet in the sand at les Graniers (a somewhat secret spot, hidden in a little cove in the Canebiers). Another spot in Saint-Tropez that tourists don't know: the restaurant La Plage des Salins. It's accessible by boat or by a path on the beach behind a cove. I also like heading to Marinette’s boutique for interior decorations, or tasting fresh truffle toasts on the Saint-Tropez market. I love the city’s bars, its restaurants, its clubs, and its gay community.
You were speaking of the Cévennes of your childhood. Where should one go to enjoy it fully?
Today, the Vis Valley in the Cévennes is kind of victim of its own success on social media. I knew it wild and at the time, we were the kings of the world. You must stop at the Saint-Laurent le Minier Cascade… It’s where I had my first adrenaline rushes diving off cliffs, and also my first kisses. ;)
What do you like to bring back in your suitcases that might be hard to find in the US?
That’s exactly why we created French Wink: to have everything that we could miss from France at our disposal in the United States. So today, I would say that almost nothing tangible is lacking. We only miss feelings and our loved ones, and we can’t put those in our suitcases…
If you had to choose three items on our eshop that really pay tribute to the South of France, which would you pick?
I would select dresses from La Femme Apéro, Cacatoès sandals because for the beach or the river they’re excellent, and Herbes de Provence. I would enthusiastically add a fourth item: Moutet kitchen towels, which I love and remind me of home, like the “Mimosa” “Citrons” one or the “La vie en rosé”.
As for the South of France, if you love it as much as we do, look at our eshop to find plenty of products full of sun and happiness.