The Slogship Enterprose has been beamed down to the Var, and jolly nice it is too. So far today I have wished an Italian gentleman bon giorno, a very fat Austrian bloke Grüss Gott, and a German lady Guten Tag, except the last of these didn’t go down that well on account of her being Danish. But she did have a charming little Schnauser puppy, and so I recovered such credibility as remained by talking to her about the blindness problems these bright but at times grumpy dogs have.
This being France, I have also of course been saying bonjour a great deal, but the point I’m making here is that there are two great things I have observed thus far about campsites: first, they are genuinely European – as opposed to ersatz Brusselsapean; and second, there is a camaraderie – a genuine feeling of tribal community – that seems to me yet another clear indication of the Birds of the Feather thing.
On leaving Avignon around midday, I was confronted by another sort of evidence: that signwriters and urban planners generally are recruited entirely on the basis of being (a) directionally confused and (b) professional pedestrians. Only such people could take one north over the Pont d’Avignon, over all four sides of a rectangle, back south over the Pont d’Avignon, and then all round an equilateral triangle of the centre commercial, the gare du train de grande vitesse and the castle before finally pointing the torch at a minute sign saying ‘Autoroute’ on the other side of the road behind several leafed branches of a plane tree at an angle that defied reading of any of the content.
Anyway, here I am. I was this afternoon that man diving into the Med and evoking gasps of horror from the natives who have zero experience of the Atlantic, the Channel, or the North Sea as swimming media. It’s great that this positions one as a superhero, but the reality is that we Brits are in teeshirts and shorts at night just as the Meds decide that thermal underwear is no longer necessary under the midday sun.
The later afternoon sun plays on the bright red soil here to create an effect you really can’t find anywhere else. And the site here at Les Mures overlooks both Santrop and St Maxime. Sadly, the main bay is full of Vodka palaces: but the beaches beyond remain peopled by those of relatively modest means.
The Var is one of the easiest French accents to understand, spoken as it is by very laid back Gallics in a relatively slow manner. Var ladies are wonderfully easy to charm, because the Varesque sense of humour is similar to ours. What is entirely different, however, is the organisational dimension. The site I’ve pitched on has every space impeccably marked, on the plan one is given at reception, by number. However, the winter spruce-up involved repainting all the number signs….up to but not including the numbers. The background yellow is very smart. The lack of easily visible dark red numbers is, to be frank, a bit of a pisser.
The Meteo says there will be an unsettled day here tomorrow. This of course refers to the weather: it won’t include me. The driving is done, there are no deadlines left. Hurrah.