Monday, February 02, 2009

TGO - Cote d'Azur

Sounds flash that, doesn't it? I was in Nice this weekend, mostly to escape the absolutely disgusting weather that Montpellier was enduring. It's not often that we have a weekend of rain, and when we do, it's soooo depressing.

So, despite my TWDB feeling under the weather, he bravely agreed to the 3-hr drive into the 'cloudy with sunny spells' zone. Naturally the coast did not look its best, but it did what it could under the circumstances.

The last time I was in Nice, my eldest was 2 so my memory of it was hazy to say the least. Before that, I'd been along the coast, somewhere around St Tropez I think, having a picnic on the beach. At one point, incredibly dark and threatening clouds could be spotted out to sea.

Not long afterwards they could be seen much nearer to the coast and it became obvious that they were racing towards land with accompanying torrential rain. While the meteorological aspect of it was fascinating, the realisation that this was a ferocious storm heading our way at break-neck speed forced me to rethink my position. I jumped up and legged it as fast as I could back to the car over the beach, fallen tree trunks, boulders and other obstacles. It was like some amazing unstage-managed reality show! I finally reached the car, unlocked it, jumped in and shut the door at which point the storm hit and the car was submerged beneath a dense curtain of rain. Made it!

Last weekend was exciting in a different way. My TWDB took me for a ride on his mega Suzuki motorbike, with G-digging acceleration and nowhere much to hold on to. We drove around the coast, breezed through Cap Ferrat and stopped for lunch just outside Monaco.

Compared to Hérault, PACA is much more stunningly attractive. Hérault is beautiful, but in a more gentle way. Around Nice you get the (normally) brilliant blue sea, azur sky, dramatic craggy outcrops, Alpes du Sud just behind, exotic vegetation and fascinating coastline. It is so stunning it practically smacks you across the face demanding all your attention just to take it in.

The other most stunning aspect about it is that many of the real estate For Sale signs are in Russian. However, most of the super yachts in the old port of Nice fly British flags. How do dey do dat?? Maybe it's all those former hedge fund managers who, having got out while the going was good, sold up in the UK and have taken up residence on their yachts. They could do worse...

Nice might well be a perfect place to live, but unfortunately the transport infrastructure is a nightmare. For example, a 3-hr car journey to Montpellier takes six hours by train. Taking the TGV from Montpellier to Paris takes 3 hours. From Nice, you have to go to Marseille first and then change, total over five hours. The only solution is to fly out, at a price.

It's totally maddening in my opinion, especially in this day and age when we are supposed to be using non-polluting means of transport, and shows a distinct lack of willing. If Lyon can have two stations, I don't see why Nice can't, with a tram connecting the two. They could build it on cheaper land by the river, with an easier exit north connecting to Valence. Et voila!

I wonder if I could charge a consultation fee...


  1. Hoeny, the flag on the boat does not mean a thing - the owner (or his henchmen) choose to have the flag & country that are the most appealing tax or politically wise ( so a brit flag deos not always mean a brit owns the boat, - but the owner has a "tax residence" or such in GB!!!!

    For's Liberia!!!

  2. Well who on earth would choose the UK as a tax haven??? Or maybe it's the flag of BVI... that would make sense.

  3. I love the South of France in the winter, but hate it in the summer - so many people unless you go up into the Alpilles. I hear that Croatia is how the South of France used to be ...


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