Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Lowering the Tone

Yesterday afternoon, my TWDB and I went for a brisk walk along the beach. The weather has been terrible lately, but it was clearer towards the sea, so we headed down to Carnon to get a fix of ozone and clear the cobwebs.

It has to be said that, while the stretch of beach from Carnon to Palavas is lovely and sandy, the beachside buildings are quite revolting. They are evidence of 70's cheap, design-free concrete block architecture. In fact, I hesitate to use the word 'architecture' because I find it difficult to believe that any architect worth the name could come up with such boring, bland, and ugly buildings.

Low-rise block upon block of functional cubes line the beach - mostly apartment blocks, with the occasional house. Many of the blocks have been battered by the elements and are in sore need of repairs and paint, which adds to the shoddy air of the place.

Frankly, the best solution would be to tear down the lot and start again. Mind you, I say that, but one block had been renovated to prove that with creativity (and money) you can transform the ugly into something attractive and even chic!

It had been transformed using wood panelling to extend the rooms out over the balcony thus enlarging the living area. A couple of columns, some porthole windows and a bit of aluminum gave a whole new look, and increased the desirability of the place a thousand fold. The block suddenly became the most attractive on the street, but I wonder if the surrounding crap affected its value. You know what they say about having a house out of character with its surroundings...

Anyway, I suppose the hope is that it'll drag up the others, their owners suddenly inspired to do as the Jones' and go renovation mad... An optimistic thought!

We were in need of a cuppa by the time we reached Palavas. The rather trendy restaurant was closing, so we sat outside facing the beach, at a bar. There we were unfortunate enough to have the most revolting tea and coffee the country, and perhaps the whole of Europe, has ever had the gall to offer paying customers. The tea was Lipton Yellow - that well-known bag of tea dust and floor scrapings - served in a pot with a broken spout, with hot milk. Quite foul. The coffee must have been made with three grains.

When we went to pay, we had to step inside the grottiest bar outside la zone, which made one fearful for the hygiene, or lack of it, of the cups... The waiter had filthy stubby fingers too. The whole place was a disgrace, and there's no way anyone should have to pay for the disgusting crap that is served up.

We admired the view seaward, and left, amazed at how such a place could make a living, although the evidence was that the living made was pretty poor. Unsurprisingly!

We walked back along the road, admiring the efforts of those who aimed to raise the tone of the place with home improvements, and lamenting the waste of valuable views to grotty flats in ugly buildings.

It's not like this in Nice... so I believe...


  1. Lipton Yellow is the worst and for some reason it's always served in Europe and then your friends think you'd actually drink that in the UK, which of course, would never happen.


  2. Absolutely, Alexandra. The gnat's piss that passes for tea here is gob-smacking. The fact that everyone thinks that that is what a Brit would drink is even more astonishing. Mind you, kudos for Lipton for finding a gullible public to consume their butt end stalks and floor sweepings.



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