Cap d’Antibes born and raised
Cap d’Antibois through and through.
Patrice is 37 years old and was born in Cap d’Antibes. His family moved here when his father was just 10 years old but the extended family were already based here which is what brought his grandparents to this amazing part of the world.
Most of Patrices’ family still live and work on the Cap and he plans to remain here too. For him Cap d’Antibes is truly his home.
Patrice is part of a small group of families who have lived here for generations and who are all in some way connected. These families were here way before it became the exclusive luxury place it is today.They were generally people who worked on the land. Back then the Cap wasn’t somewhere people wanted to live, it was solely a place for horticulture. People came here to work and because the work was here they lived here too. As the cap became more and more developed some of the younger generations had to move away to find work. Now the majority of employment on the Cap is centred around privately owned villas of which there are many. Patrice has followed other members of his family into guardian and gardening work on the Cap.
He is the live in guardian and gardener of a group of properties situated just below the Phare. He lives with his partner and son.
How long has your family been in Cap d’Antibes?
I was born in Cap d’Antibes. My family originate from Italy my grandparents left Italy after the war and they came straight to Cap d’Antibes. They had cousins who lived here and also family in Chicago so they had to decide between the two and they chose to come to Cap d’Antibes.
My grandfather worked in horticulture back in Italy and when they came to Cap d’antibes he was told of a gardening opportunity for the Meilland Family. The Meillands were looking for a gardener for their private property in Cap d’Antibes just opposite where the little Vival supermarket is now. That property was at that time still owned by the Meillands however they sold it in the 80’s. This is where my grandfather worked and lived with my grandmother when they arrived on the Cap.
My father was around 11 years old when the family moved here. He went to the Ecole du Cap for a bit and then he went to the lycee horticultural in Antibes which is still there today. He made his diploma there and then he also began to work for the Meilland family.
At the beginning he worked in the Var where they grow their roses but soon after he came back to the Cap to work in the Meilland greenhouses here. He worked with Abdullah who you have interviewed already. He worked with Abdullah just below the house for many years.
When my father met my mother Mr Meilland told them that he had a small house and that they should take a look at it. He said “You should both live here, it will be better” So that is where they lived. My sister was born, I was born and we all lived in that house from about 1980 to around 1990. I was baptised in St Benoit, the church right opposite. However they don’t do religious ceremonies in there anymore I think it is just somewhere you can go inside but it’s not a functioning church.
When the Meillands sold this property my father bought a house in Grasse and the four of us moved there.
How old were you when you left Cap d’Antibes, did you miss it?
I was 10 years old when we moved to Grasse.
Although we left the Cap it didn’t really feel like we had left. My father still came here to work every day and we still had my grandparents here and also my uncle. I used to spend most of my weekends and my holidays here on the Cap with them. All of my friends were still here so I would come to spend time with them too. it was always home for me.
I always knew I would come back to live which I did as soon as I could.
How did you come to get this job here?
My Uncle works in a villa owned by Madame Pigozzi’s brother, he still works there today. One day about 30 years ago Mr Pigozzi told him that his sister had bought a house on the Cap and that she needed a gardener. He asked my uncle if he knew anyone and of course he suggested my father. Soon after that my father started working at her house looking after her garden. He continued working here until 2014.
I started working here in 2007 with my father in the garden.
By the time I was 18 I had moved back to Antibes. I was working in the fruit and vegetable section of Carrefour in Antibes. At that time I had no plans to work in a garden.
I didn’t study or have a particular interest in horticulture at all. Of course I do know very well how to look after gardens and plants from watching and being around my father and grandfather. I helped them in the garden from a very young age but I didn’t particularly enjoy it. Actually I thought it was boring so after my studies I decided to do something else instead.
One day in 2006 my father asked me to go with him to see his garden and where he worked as it was so beautiful and he was very proud of it. I went back with him a few times after that and after a while I began to appreciate and see what he saw. I enjoyed seeing the plants grow and develop and watching the garden evolve. Over time I came to realise that it actually wasn’t a bad job at all.
So in 2007 I stopped working at Carrefour and started working here in the garden with my father. Eventually, when he left in 2014, I continued working here alone.
When Madame Pigozzi bought the house next door she asked me to look after the properties full time for her as a live in guardian/ gardener. By this time she had known me for several years so she trusted me. I said yes straight away and since then I haven’t left the Cap and I hope I never will again.
I also look after a few small private gardens here. The same gardens which my father used to look after and which before him my grandfather used to look after. Maybe my son will also look after the same gardens one day too. Who knows.
Describe a typical day?
My typical day when Madame Pigozzi isn’t here. I wake up at around 7am, then I take my son to school. When I come back I feed all the animals. We have 2 dogs, 3 cats and 4 small dogs. There used to be lots of animals here as Madme Pigozzi is very passionate about animals.
We used to have chickens, a rooster, rabbits and also two small horses. They were the only horses on the Cap. However we gave them to Parc Phoenix last year as they became too much work to look after. Madame Pigozzi bought them when her two daughters were young but her daughters are now grown up so we decided to give them away to a good home.
Instead of the real animals we brought in lots of animal sculptures instead. We have sheep, some large turtles, 2 cows, a crocodile, a shark and a panther. There are also some dolphins and other smaller sculptures dotted around the garden.
We kept the dogs for security and the Cats because they are getting old. Before they came here the cats lived with Madame Pigozzi in Paris but recently she moved them down here so they could have more outside space.
So after seeing to the animals I attack the garden. I water everything, I prune, sweep up and remove dead leaves, cut the grass and so on. I do this until lunchtime. After lunch I do some sport in the gym here but not too much as my work gives me plenty of exercise. As you can see the garden has many levels and is very steep so tending to that keeps me fit. I also look after the house. I deal with contractors and generally maintain the property inside and out all year round. There are also have two guest apartments on the grounds so I look after those too and also the guests when the apartments are occupied.
At the moment I am re-organising the large library we have here.
Caroline Pigozzi is a well known international reporter for Paris Match and also a well known author. She is most known for her books on Pope Jean-Paul II and the Vatican. In fact she is very very famous in France. She also happens to be the daughter of Henri Pigozzi director of the car manufacturer Simca from 1935-1963. In any case Madame Pigozzi has many many books which need to be looked after and that’s what I am concentrating on at the moment.
Your Favourite place in Cap d’Antibes?
Plage des Ondes, for me I love it here. It is where I spent most of my time when I was young.
When I was still living on the Meilland propery I used to go all the time to the Plage des Ondes. I would spend many of my days there. At just 9 years old I used to go there by myself, without my parents. It was a different era back then. I would take my mask and my snorkel and I would go and catch Crabs and seafood and then we would all eat together at lunch. At the weekends we would go to chemin de la contrabandiers and jump from the rocks there or have picnics.
My wife, who I met while working at Carrefour, is from the North of France near Calais. She moved to the south of France 20 years ago. When we met she had never been to Cap d’Antibes before. One day I said come on I will show you Cap d’Antibes and plage des Ondes. She found it absolutely amazing.She had never seen anywhere like it.
It was like paradise for her. She runs here and goes for walks and to the beach with my son. It’s extraordinary for her and completely different from where she comes from.
I love the Phare de la Garoupe too. There is always something going on there. Last weekend they were filming Johnny English 3 just behind where we are now. That was quite cool. They had lorrys parked everywhere and lots of crew and actors. It was amazing. Then a few weeks ago they were filming Taxi 5 just behind us. That was during the night. They are always filming something here. Then there are the many weddings, there was a really beautiful one last weekend and also photo shoots.
How has the Cap changed since you were young?
My uncle would be the best person to tell you about the Cap d’Antibes of the past. He was born on the Cap, as was his sister and has worked and lived on the Cap all of his life. In fact He has never left the Cap.
He knows everything and everyone here.
When they were younger he and my father used to go to the local bar on the Cap called ‘Le bar du Cap’ . They would go to play cards and have a drink or a coffee with their friends. The bar isn’t there anymore but it used to be on the stretch where the pharmacy and the butcher are now. Where the restaurant is now, that used to be ‘Le bar du Cap’.
Everyone went there every day. It was where the locals would all meet. The bar didn’t serve food or anything it was a real old classic bar. This is what the Cap is missing now. People have tried to open something similar since but they never last.
I remember when I was little I was at ‘Le Bar du Cap’ with my father. We were sitting at a table and he was playing cards with my grand father. There was some filming going on, a French film. The director came in with some of the actors and asked my father and grandfather to just continue playing cards as they filmed one of the scenes. So in that film you see my father in the background playing cards, you only see him for a few seconds however it’s still quite cool.