Saturday, June 27, 2009

Holiday time!

The holiday season is about to begin again on the Mediterranean with the arrival of the "juilletistes" (july people) followed by the "aoùtiens" (august people). The high season is quite short, barely six weeks, as for the French in particular it is linked to school holidays, with the majority of people returning by the last week in August to prepare for the new school term and "la rentrée".

My small town of 10,000 grows to about 50,000 at any one time, though concentrated in specific areas such as the centre beach which has the most facilities - cafés, restaurants, sandwich bars etc. But the beach is never jam packed and it is surveyed by life guards, and divided into sections for bathing, surfing etc. Pleasure boats are not allowed inshore, except for access to the marina with its 650 berths, and dogs are banned from the heach for hygiene reasons. The beaches are mechanically cleaned over night and the promenades swept early every morning. Not surprisingly the town has received numerous Blue Flag awards for the quality of its facilities.

We residents tend to plan our normal activities to take account of the influx, going swimming very early or late in the evening; visiting the supermarket during quiet periods and avoiding Mondays when the new arrivals tend to stock up for the week. The restaurants follow a similar pattern and are curiously quiet on Friday evenings, as departing visitors get ready for the long journey home on Saturday, and Saturday evenings when the new arrivals are still on their way or have not yet found their way round town.

It all ends very suddenly in September when the town seems to empty virtually overnight, and we settle down to glorious sunny days than can last till a few weeks before Christmas. It is my favourite time of the year, and an ideal time to visit the region. Most hotels and restaurants remain open until the end of October, and it is easier to get around on the roads and visit the regions many beautiful attractions.