In the last few weeks we’ve been up to Courmettes a couple of times to either take people around the site or collect them from there. It’s been particularly interesting because there now seem to be a number of people who are quite seriously interested in getting involved there in the short- or long-term. (They are also looking for a gardien, but you need good French for that, see this link). We’ve also taken a few days out both on our own and with friends and will probably be posting some pretty pictures from those in the weeks ahead.
One couple we were talking with wanted to go down to Nice to visit the university so we drove down with them and took the excellent park-and-ride tram system. This being France and it being August the university was closed so, almost by accident, we walked down instead to the seafront and along to the “Ground Zero” of the 14 July attacks. The fact that the beaches below the Promenade des Anglaises were full of people enjoying themselves seemed to make the point that this particularly vile act of terrorism had, apart from agony and distress, achieved precisely nothing.
Elsewhere in the region one of the major features has been just how dry it is. Even up at Courmettes, which gets the occasional rainstorm in summer, the pastures are bleached yellow.
The fire brigade is getting very nervous indeed at how dry everywhere is. In our area the authorities release daily maps giving the fire risk. For information, we are hiding just under number 6 in Centre Var.
Each level of fire risk has various dos and don’ts. The yellow level – severe – advises against entrance into the forests and prohibits smoking, fires, wild camping and using garden power tools or metalworking after 1 o’clock in the afternoon. Red bans almost all access into the area except main roads. Rain would be very welcome.
At this time in August the supermarkets are full of parents clutching lists issued by schools and shaking heads and breathing deep sighs at the cost of the obligatory textbooks and dictionaries. You have to feel slightly sorry for the editors of French dictionaries: the language is clearly evolving very rapidly indeed and if this sign is anything to go by, not very prettily.
Out in the countryside the grapes are nearly ready for harvesting and indeed we’ve heard that in some areas near us they have already been picked.
One particularly troubling sign of the times was noted by Chris in our local wine cooperative (is it too embarrassing to confess that we have a loyalty card there?). The printed statement about the wine containing 12.5% alcohol had been covered by a sticker with a handwritten 13.5%. Guessing the answer he would get, Chris asked the checkout girl for an explanation and was unsurprised by the response. ‘The weather is hotter in recent years so the wine has now become stronger. C’est le climat.’