November miscellany

We were hoping that today would see a promised snowfall. However, we’ve had to settle for rain instead. Still, we’re grateful for this. After seven months with barely a millimetre of rain, everywhere is incredibly parched, including our local river, which in places is quite literally bone dry.

One possible result of climate change is that the local authorities at Cannes are engaged in a very large-scale beach replenishment programme, in which they are going to distribute 80,000 cubic metres of sand along the seafront. Presumably the intention is to allow yet more room for those who are (or wish they were) rich, famous, slim and tanned to pose semi-naked to the world in summer.  Actually it may not be needed: given the downfall of Harvey Weinstein (the “Caligula of Cannes” according to the Guardian) and others there may already be more space available.

We had the annual festival of new wine in Taradeau the other Sunday. We missed most of it because we were at church, but we turned up for the afternoon. As we mentioned last year, it’s not just simply a celebration of matters to do with the vine, but also something of an affectionate look back at a rural France that is now disappearing rapidly.

Accompanying Provencal dancing

This couple in traditional dress are sitting on the running board of a 1940s truck

Despite this emphasis on history and culture, wine is not forgotten, and for one or two people, it had clearly not been forgotten.

Our département, the Var, which as every French person knows is number 83, is distinguished by two claims. One is that is it the most forested département in France. Well  true or not, there are certainly places where it looks like it, as in the picture below.

The other claim is that the Var is the most militarised département in France, with the enormous naval base at Toulon, the Isle-of-Wight-sized training ground of the Plateau de Canjuers, and the army’s helicopter training base not far from where we live and the school of artillery at Draguignan. Normally, these are incidentals in our life, but we did recently have an interesting encounter with an armoured personnel carrier on an ancient and narrow bridge. When you find yourself in that situation, there is only one thing to do, which is to drive backwards as fast and carefully as possible. The French army prefers not to reverse.

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