I Hate It Here!

St Tropez

St Tropez (Photo credit: Michael Gwyther-Jones)

The move is becoming ever-more real. We’re lining up houses to check out during our reconnaissance visit later in the month, figuring out what we’re going to take and what we’ll get rid of and estimating the volume of our stuff for the removal. I think the moment has come to finally go public on something I’ve tried to ignore for the past five years. Here goes…

I Hate It Here!!!!

For the past five years I’ve been trying to make the best of a bad situation, hoping things will get better. But they haven’t. They just haven’t. I used to think it was living in France that was the problem but now I realise it’s more subtle than that. If I make the comparison with the UK, there are many many places in England where I wouldn’t even consider  living and I expect I would be very unhappy. That doesn’t mean I hate living in England. Same with France. Just because here doesn’t suit me doesn’t mean there is nowhere in France where I could be happy.

I think the UK equivalent of the Côte d’Azur might be the Home Counties. It’s where people who are too rich to live in the capital live and in fact much of the British expatriate population here seems to be from the Home Counties. With their 4×4 people carriers, designer jeans and perfect mainicures, the ladies that lunch fit right in. I, however, am a dour left-wing northerner who secretly thinks that anyone who can afford a winter coat has a bit too much money for their own good.  It makes me sick to look at the super-yachts in the marinas at Antibes, Cannes, St Tropez and the like. The money spent on just one of them could build half a dozen orphanages in Angola or irrigate half of Mali.  Needless to say, the politics are right-wing (it’s a traditional National Front/Le Pen stronghold), and the more money you have, the more you matter.

I even hate the landscape. The traditional lemon and orange groves have been chopped down to meet the need to house and feed the coastal strip and now it’s bare, barren and rocky – like the inhabitants. There are no cows, no grass, no fields of arable crops and very little wildlife.  Nothing seems very fertile and when it rains (that’s another thing; it rains far more than the tourist board would have you believe) the water just runs away down the rocks or fills the swimming pools.

Housing is a disaster. So many houses and apartments serve as holiday homes for people from outside the region, there is nowhere left for the locals to live. Should you find accommodation, you’ll be paying over the odds for somewhere that is badly built and only designed for summer occupancy. Everyone talks about how hot it is in summer here. No-one mentions that it is bloody freezing in winter. While your high-priced abode is likely to have a swimming pool and perhaps double-glazing, it won’t have any other kind of insulation and the only source of heating in mid-January will be electric heaters that normal people can’t afford to use. Best to spend winter tucked up with the central heating in Surrey.

I’ve never been able to feel at home here, but there were a few things I enjoyed and even they are coming to an end. My one and only friend left before Christmas (she’d been here nine years and she didn’t like it much either), the Pilates class that I used to go to stopped running in January and my French conversation class will end the week before we move. The writing is on the wall. It’s time to go.

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