A not-so-tranquil week in August

In theory, as we pointed out last week, August is the great French month for relaxation. A time to close up the office for two or three weeks and disappear and do nothing. Well, if that’s true, we haven’t really adapted to the culture. It’s been a very busy week.

So, last Saturday we left early for the St Tropez peninsula with our guest Sarah Y (there is a superfluity of Sarahs in A Rocha, and this week there have been two of them in Provence). The idea was to get out to the beach before the wall-to-wall metal of traffic jams occurred. Successfully getting to L’Escalet we then set out under the usual cloudless skies to walk to the spectacular headland of Cap Taillat.[1]

Cap Tallat

Cap Taillat


What perhaps we hadn’t realised is that by midday, temperatures had edged up to 37°C, which is effectively 100°F. It was then we realised why we were the only people doing serious walking along the coast. However, a stop on the beach and a swim was very refreshing afterwards.


Good swimming here!

Good swimming here!

Sunday we went to church and then took Sarah Y back to Courmettes, before heading to Nice airport to meet up with our old Swansea friends Rhys and Emily (and Megan). After spending an interminable time waiting for Budget to sort out their hire car, we drove back to Taradeau.



Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, Alison showed them some of the sights, while Chris remained anchored to his desk writing proposals. Just when he thought he was “ahead of the game” and preparing to go out on Wednesday with the others, he had a phonecall which introduced a new phrase to the household vocabulary: COP21.

If you haven’t heard about COP21, you will, as it’s the big climate conference taking place over two weeks in Paris from the end of November. A Rocha had agreed to turn up to COP21 and play a major role, but it had become apparent that it was all rather more complex than had been expected. So Chris was being asked/invited to get on board the organising team and help move things forward. And that has occupied a huge amount of his time this week and is likely to do so until the middle of December. Some idea of the complexities are that on Wednesday he received over 70 emails and on Friday found himself liaising with a woman in South Africa on whether or not A Rocha could use a cathedral in Paris (don’t ask).

Tuesday night we went out for a meal: thanks Rhys and Em! Wednesday night we had the first meeting of the local association to clear up and make more of Taradeau’s oppidum (a large pre-Roman fortified settlement). It was one of those local meetings that happen in many parts of the world; it seemed to be distinguished by a lot of talking and a large box of wine at the end.

The Taradeau oppidum from Google Earth

The Taradeau oppidum from Google Earth

Thursday Rhys, Emily and Megan left, leaving us to get back to normal and, in Chris’ case, two-hour Skype conversations. Isn’t retirement relaxing?

[1] When checking the spelling of Cap Taillat Alison discovered that beach scenes in the film Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang were filmed there. Clever car to fly so quickly from England to the south of France!

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