There is a common myth that the French Riviera does not get a winter. It is of course totally untrue. We had a little touch of frost outside our apartment door this week, although as we’ve said, we’re at 850 m (2,788 ft) so that shouldn’t be too surprising. We have had the log-burning stove in our apartment going in the evenings. It keeps us very snug – Chris has even had a go at splitting logs.
It’s also getting very dark by five, and pitch black by six o’clock. Up here, several kilometres from street lights, the darkness is very thick. When the sky is clear, the stars are fantastic. However, when we come back by car after dark, we certainly need a torch with us to reach the apartment without stumbling.
One peculiarity – a plus point for Britons – about autumn here is that it persists well into later November. So, for example, many trees are only now slipping into glorious autumn foliage. It seems every hillside displays vibrant reds, oranges and yellows among the evergreen trees. And no, the images have not been Photoshopped to boost the colours.
On our day off this week we explored the highland area to the north of us and found several lovely valleys. It’s much colder there and in many places ground frost lingered in the shade. Those of you with a geological bent (we know there are at least a couple of you who read this blog) will be delighted to know that we stumbled upon the global stratotype for the Barremian, which is a major sub-division of the Cretaceous. Be impressed!
Other news in brief:
France Telecom didn’t turn up last week, but this is the south of France… (The story goes that a local language expert was asked whether there was the equivalent of the Spanish mañana in Provençal: after much thought he replied ‘no, there is nothing which expresses that degree of urgency’ ). They have promised to be here on Tuesday so we are hoping this week finally to have the internet back.
And we are still waiting to pay for our house as the pound and the euro bounce up and down against each other. Curiously enough, the moment that the British government lost a by-election seat to the UK Independence Party, the pound went up. If that makes sense to you, it doesn’t to us. Today, having finally decided to take advantage of today’s reasonable rate we started with an online transfer only to find that our bank in the UK doesn’t allow the transfer of such large amounts unless you visit the branch in person. A quick email to the truly helpful and competent Danielle at Swansea HSBC on a Saturday afternoon received an almost instant response with just the information we needed. We will be sending an express letter of authorisation on Monday.