Where Do I Park My Yacht?

There are lots of jokes about how the other half lives. However, I didn’t fully realize just how the other half lived until I got in the car last week, and turned the radio on to a commercial. I thought it had to be a spoof.  The commercial opened with a plummy British voice saying, “I know your biggest problem is where to park your yacht.”

As I stared at the radio in disbelief, the commercial proceeded to cheerily – no, actually snootily – advertise a specific marina, whose price was somewhat lower than others, or its service better or something.

I’m not sure, because barring us winning the lottery (which would be more likely – note not likely – to happen if we bought tickets more than about twice a year. And then we buy them so we can dream for two days before the drawing and not in any expectation of winning) we’re unlikely to ever own a yacht.  And even if we won the lottery, we’d be more likely to buy a publishing house or two.

The station then went on to advertise itself as Radio Riviera, the station for expatriates living in the South of France.

I’ve been in the South of France for the last two weeks – two days to go, and ya’ll better make sure I still have a country when I return. What with the whole Nork think I’m not confident, really. I'm doing research for a couple of books and staying mostly with a long-time fan who was kind enough to put my husband and me up.

The South of France (I assume) isn’t France — in the same way that any extremely touristic area isn’t that area, as such, but a touristic area. In fact, on three continents I’ve found that a beach area resembles other beach areas more than anything else.

Yet, there are people who live here, of course, and their living arrangements remind me much of the place where I grew up, with medieval infrastructure overlaid with modernity, in a bewildering way that sometimes works, and sometimes leaves you scratching your head.

Everyone in every shop is very friendly to English speakers, partly I suspect because a large part of the income for the region comes from tourism. (This is good, since while I still understand French if spoken slow and distinctly and can usually make a pretty good guess at how to say something, I find myself losing essential words which sometimes results in strange situations.)

Service still sucks in most restaurants, but I think that’s the result of tips being (literally) a foreign concept. I remember service rather lagged in the years when Portugal outlawed tipping. I mean, you’re going to get paid the same as the laziest waiter, anyway, so why bother bustling about?