Two things this week. First of all, Port Grimaud. One of the problems of the Cote d’Azur is not just that it has been relentlessly built over, but that it has been built over in a crass, ugly and unsympathetic way. While it may not have sunk to the depths of say, Torremolinos, there are still appalling expanses of virtually identical glass and concrete apartment blocks and villas surmounted by Provencal tiles in token sympathy with some imagined vernacular architecture. One exception to this architectural blight is Port Grimaud, which we visited for a second time last week under untypical grey skies. It’s a measure of its merits that it still looked appealing.
It’s not just the fact that there is a common architectural theme but the way that it is all laid out around artificial canals gives it almost a feel of village-scale Venice.
Don’t however suddenly decide to come down and buy an apartment there, even small ones seem to be starting at around the €400,000 mark. Nevertheless it’s an attractive place with a nice beach in front of it and we will probably visit again when the sun shines.
And now to the dreadful B-word. With, in theory, only five months to go, even the most habitually laid-back Brits – and there are many – in the region are getting concerned about Brexit. To summarise the situation: at the moment, at one minute past midnight on 30th March 2019, British citizens here (and elsewhere in the EU) will no longer be citizens of the European Union and so become technically illegal residents. Now conventional wisdom has it that the French (and the rest of the EU) will decide to be friendly and come up with some nice little piece of legislation that will allow us to continue as we are. Unfortunately, it has been pointed out by a number of people that it is not in M. Macron’s interest to make such a smooth and trouble-free deal for us. One of the strongest arguments of the Front National (now called Rassemblement national – the National Rally) is that they want to pull France out of the EU. M. Macron, who is very pro-EU, will be greatly strengthened if it is visible to all that opting out of the European Union has been catastrophic for the British. This is merely one of a hundred thousand things that no one thought of before the referendum.
One would like to think that the British Government is speedily and smoothly working to a resolution of this crisis but it certainly doesn’t appear like that from over here. In fact the government is giving a very good impersonation of a carload of individuals who, having stalled on a level crossing in front of an oncoming high-speed train, are preoccupied with fighting over the map.
In the meantime, we have taken the first steps towards getting a formal carte de séjour, which involves a couple of meetings at our local sous-prefecture and accumulating a lot of paperwork. We made our first visit on Wednesday and it was fascinating to hear the number of English conversations going on in the queue. So far, our treatment from the now badly overworked French officials has been efficient, charming and sympathetic. Would that those adjectives could be applied to Her Majesty’s Government.