One Secret Summer – Locations
The Italian edition of One Secret Summer has a slightly different title – L’Estate Francese – The French Summer – and that’s because much of the novel takes place in a beautiful little town in the South of France called Mougins. I was lucky enough to spend a week in Mougins a couple of years ago at the fortieth birthday party of a friend – and what a party! It went on for four days…we wined and dined at some of the restaurants in the village that are very much like the restaurants in the novel…it’s not for nothing that Mougins hosts the International Gastronomique Festival in the town square every year. Click below for a glimpse of Mougins, and some of the other locations in the book.
Pablo Picasso, Jean Cocteau, Fernand Léger, Francis Picabia, Man Ray, Arman, Yves Klein, César Baldaccini, Paul Éluard, Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Dior, Winston Churchill, Catherine Deneuve, Édith Piaf and Jacques Brel are but a few of this beautiful medieval town’s one-time inhabitants. Sun, wine, cheese and outstanding food…the village really does have it all.
Northumberland Park Avenue, where the Keeler family lives, is one of those picture-perfect Islington roads…beautiful Georgian villas, delicate cherry blossoms in spring, and only the distant rumble of the nearby train to disturb a Sunday afternoon. There are great pubs and restaurants at either end of the gently curved avenue and the bars and shops of Upper Street are a short walk away. London living at its best…
In stark contrast to genteel Islington, Mogadishu, the capital city of Somali, where Niela grows up, is unrecognisable today as the city where the Muzzafar dynasty had their palace in the Middle Ages. The civil war in Somalia which began in 1991 isn’t yet over with various groups fighting for control of the once-beautiful city and port. The Adens, like thousands of middle-class Somalis, flee Mogadishu by driving to Hargeisa, their family home, and from there, find their way across Europe to Vienna.
One of Europe’s truly great cities – it’s an absolute gem. It’s further east than Prague, which came as a surprise to me when I visited for the first time, nearly thirty years ago – and if it’s art or music that you’re after, there’s nowhere like it. Aside from its obvious historical attractions, modern-day Vienna is vibrant, edgy and cool, and one of the last great European cities where students, bohemians and artists can actually afford to live and work in its centre. A perfect weekend getaway…