9 March 2008

Atypical

I hesitated a little before I included this picture in my post. The view is most atypical. Probably because I'm not supposed to do too much, it's raining (you understand – if the sun was shining, I would be walking everywhere and exhausted for the rest of my stay here). It was 17 degrees on Monday and bright sunshine. Today: 13, low clouds, rain. The sea was ink-black yesterday afternoon. I had never seen it this colour before, in the 50-odd times I saw it in my life. This morning, it is light grey, reflecting the sorry colour of the sky. In fact, I’ve just looked up again and I can no longer distinguish the sea from the sky (you can just about on the picture). The earth is at one with the heavens. And it’s still raining...

After reading my book in bed and listening to B’s music on her iPod station, relaxing, musing, I thought some more about my trip yesterday.

‘Hey everybody, this is the land of my childhood holidays!’ I wanted to shout to all the passengers when we started descending. ‘Hey, listen all! I know this area so well! You’ll see, when we get closer to the airport, suddenly we’ll go out towards the sea and the view will be breathtaking! It’s my favourite part of the trip! The beautiful Med!’

I shed a few tears, overcome by emotion. I hadn’t flown to this part of France for nearly four years...

However, to my astonishment, we arrived at a strange angle, and so instead of circling wide towards the sea just before we could see the landing strip, it was as if we were heading straight for the north of Africa, passing the south coast of France on our way to, dare I say, more beautiful, certainly more exotic, landscapes. For a long time, all we could see was the blue of the sea (along with some jellyfish, if you had the imagination of the brats at the back of the plane) and the white of the boats bobbing seemingly gently below us. Then suddenly, mountain peaks appeared, white as coconut ice cream, their edges rugged, grey, raw. I had never seen the Alps while hovering above the sea. The best of both worlds right here, one below me, one ahead of me, nearly reconcilable. I was mesmerised. Apparently, we went as far as Menton and Monaco, then we started flying lower and back towards where we should have headed in the first place – Nice airport – going along the coast. We passed Cap Ferrat – so distinctly a cape when you’re flying above it! – the port of Villefranche, the Promenade des Anglais, and finally the strip of land where the plane could be put down, after a two-hour journey. Within minutes, we were at our gate, disembarked, and five minutes later my suitcase was rightfully mine again. B’s partner, R, arrived as I was busy looking at Stelios and the man next to him, both being welcomed by a handsome French man, and all was well in the world. I had made it safely to the land of my childhood holidays. My present holiday could start!

Ironically, an English voice on Riviera Radio was the first sound I heard when I got to R and B’s flat. ‘What is this? I’ve come to France and I hear an English voice on the radio?!’

‘Ah! This is Riviera Radio, for all the Brits who’ve settled in the area.’

Unbelievable!

But indeed, the ads are all about buying and renting flats and houses, with a splendid 360-degree view of the Med, a huge balcony and two or three bedrooms, of course at an exorbitant price. For a minute during our scenic drive from the airport to Beausoleil, I imagined myself living out here, but now I understood why B and R hate the whole Monaco experience. The glamour is only superficial (though the wealth of the people is quite real). It is a million light years away from my life and what I like in Life...

2 comments:

Helen said...

I stumbled across Rivera Radio when I was living out in Aix en Provence too. I have to say that I was disappointed because it spoilt the whole "immersing myself in France and Frenchness" experience.

Lotus Flower said...

They do play some very good music, though, I have to say! And there are not too many ads (French ads drive me crazy!).