“A village in a forest overlooking a white sand beach” — that is the storybook city called Carmel-by-the-Sea.
Incredible natural scenery, a rich artistic population and Clint Eastwood as mayor — Carmel-by-the-Sea is an aesthetic Pacific Coast paradise in every sense of the word. Dogs are welcome almost everywhere, high heel shoes can’t be worn without a permit. This one-square-mile city is beautifully tucked away on a gently rising slope above a magnificent white Pacific Ocean beach.
From the 6th Century on (it’s believed), ancient folks were drawn to this area, with the Spanish arriving in the mid-15th Century. They named this paradise after Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Mission Carmel actually contained the state’s first library and its founder, Father Serra, is called the “Father of California.” It passed into the hands of a French businessman who set up a brickworks and bakery. A dispute with another area called Carmel led to the addition of “by-the-Sea.”
From the very beginning, Carmel lured artists, so aptly described by Jack London in his “The Valley of the Moon.” Swishing their brushes around were Mary Austin, Armin Hansen, George Sterling, and Clark Ashton Smith, to name just a few. Theater flourished, as did other venues and soon the roster of internationally recognized names spread across the arts. The poet George Sterling is credited with establishing the town’s literary base. Poet Robinson Jeffer’s Tor House, on a windswept barren seaside promontory is open to the public. Today Carmel’s Art, Bach and Shakespeare Festivals draw international audiences annually.
A unusually strong emphasis on protecting and enhancing the city’s natural coastal beauty has given Carmel such a reputation, it often hosts delegation wanting to know how it retains such small scale authenticity in today’s world. Trees are so treasured and revered, existing ones cannot be removed for construction and barren lots must be planted. This unique municipality has no streetlights or parking meters; houses have names, not street numbers and no home mail delivery. Overnight delivery is possible, but only with geographical addresses,” a street name, the cross street name and the number of houses from that intersection.
This doesn’t (didn’t) seem to discourage celebrities from making their homes in Carmel, including Jean Arthur, Doris Day, Clint Eastwood, Joan Fontaine, Sinclair Lewis, Jack Lundon, John Madden, Upton Sinclair, Robert Louis Stevenson, Betty White and Ryan Phinny. And, as would be expected with such a notable population, the amenities demanded by those who can afford the very best are found in Carmel in abundance —shopping, entertainment, education and, of course, cuisine. Carmel is a haven of coffee shops and its proximity to fresh seafood, the fertile Salinas Valley and 75+ wineries in the famous Monterey County ensure the very best of dining.
World class fishing, kayaking, surfing and scuba diving draw water sports lovers to the coast, while others head inland for exciting horseback riding, jogging, walking and bicycling along magnificent coastal bluffs. Nearby are renowned golf courses and tennis courts.
Just a couple of hours south of San Francisco, the picturesque ambiance of Carmel extends throughout the town that is redolent with myriads of Hugh Comstock’s whimsical cottages and other delightful architectural styles. “Residents rule!” could be a city motto. Nearby cities provide all necessary commercial amenities, which allows Carmel to focus on keeping its own neighborhoods as livable and resident-friendly as possible.
Oh, that no-high-heels-without-a-permit? Carmel treasures its picturesque atmosphere so much, cracked sidewalks and irregular pavement are considered crucial to the ambiance. This law is to prevent unappreciative visitors from suing the city if they trip and fall. But don’t worry. They have no jail. Or cemetery either. Well, there is one grave. For the town dog Pal. The city also used to prohibit selling and eating ice cream on public streets. But Clint Eastwood got that one overturned.
Needless to say, property is so coveted in Carmel-by-the-Sea, those seeking to live here or nearby naturally turn to those respected “Purveyors of Fine Homes & Estates,” Alain Pinel Realtors, voted the Best Real Estate Company in Monterey County (among its other many awards). Owner/broker Judith Profeta heads a team that knows this unique city and surrounding areas intimately, who are as active personally in the community as they are professionally. Through them, new residents always find luxury properties that exceed their expectations.