A new month

September has come to the French Riviera and the world has changed. The children have gone back to school, but more importantly the tourists have vanished. Rather like those times when you have somewhat awkward and demanding guests to stay you can sense an almost audible sigh of relief at their departure. The Alpes Maritimes is returning to being French. Well, actually not really French. This is a very cosmopolitan area, full of people from all over the world and its Frenchness is very much diluted. This was brought home to us last weekend when we were part of one of a number of associations displaying stalls at a local village event. It was very much one of those events where societies and associations try to get members for the coming year and was curiously reminiscent of the ‘Freshers Fair’ sort of thing at universities in the UK. So we found ourselves next to the Tourrettes-sur-Loup American line dancing society, there were exhibits of Asian martial arts and and the rugby stall appeared to be doing a good trade. Did we actually see anything you could call ‘Provencal’? The choir planning to do Brahms? the patchwork club?… but it was interesting and we made some good contacts, including meeting the mayor after the event.


Alison at the Courmettes stall with the line dancers behind

This week saw the end of the computer drama. Chris eventually found someone in a nearby town who was able to fix his laptop and was not phased by the difficulty of downloading an English version of Windows. He has, however, had to reinstall all his software programs which is a bit of a pain. Anyway credit where credit is due and a big thank you to Daniel Ferrero of Mission PC in Grasse for a job well done.

So far in these blog we have painted a pretty pleasant picture of life in the south of France. Nevertheless there have been challenges. Just over a week ago Alison developed an extremely painful left shoulder after an overlong day of typing. It was no better over the weekend so Monday morning she went to our local GP, the excellent if somewhat blunt, Dr P. Now what would have happened in Britain is quite simple; the GP would have tentatively diagnosed tendonitis and prescribed painkillers and said ‘if it’s not better, come back in a week’s time’. Not here. Dr P. refused to commit to a diagnosis though he seemed pretty convinced he knew what it was, and said that he wanted an x-ray and an ultrasound. So we went to the next town and Alison was offered an appointment on the following day. By Tuesday lunchtime she had had the scans done and had been given a big envelope with the images and a confirmed diagnosis, so on Wednesday morning she was able to present the GP with his images. So far, apart from the cost of the tests and GP’s visits (which we hope we can reclaim) the French system wins hands down.

However at this point it becomes trickier because the GP wanted her to get an appointment with a specialist with the intention of removing – under local anaesthetic – a small calcareous nodule in the tendon area. Now there’s nothing wrong with this but a reading around on ‘calcifying tendonitis’ says that in some cases any such nodules disappear on their own. The upshot is that Alison has made a tentative appointment for later in the month with the intention of cancelling it if it all clears up beforehand. In the meantime she is on some painkillers. But you can see how very differently the two medical systems work and you can also see that the French system may, on occasion, be too fast for its own good. It certainly keeps a lot of healthcare professionals in business. Anyway, in the meanwhile she is making a reasonably good recovery and in good spirits.


One of the “small blues”: there are many butterflies around at the moment

Let’s not end on that note. With being rather busy over the next couple of weeks we have drawn a line under house-hunting for the time being. There is such an enormous amount of fluctuation in the currency markets the moment and a so much uncertainty that we are a little bit cautious anyway.

A couple of articles about what we are doing here are being produced in various A Rocha publications and we have been involved with that this week.


Panorama of the estate including the Pic de Courmettes, some of the pastures and garrigue area in the foreground. It’s an amazing place to be!

We had a good long meeting with the president of A Rocha France this week discussing various things, and what was significant was that it was all in French. We must keep making progress!

Finally let end with two facts. First, we discovered that we are at a sufficiently high altitude (850m) that cooking is affected: water here boils at 97°C.  Second, we discovered that Chris’s office in Les Courmettes was until comparatively recently the site of the largest occultic bookshop in the Riviera. The books have long since gone and the room cleaned in every sense. But it makes you think, doesn’t it?

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