Sunday, April 11, 2010

How not to marry a millionairre



I'm back from a week in Nice. The South of France always sounds glamorous, and although I like France, I tend to get annoyed by a few things that overwhelm me. There were train strikes the whole time we were there, and resultingly, massive queues for buses, so I didn't get to travel out of Nice. I also stood in dog poo - for the first time in about 15 years. British dog owners are all very well trained now - they pick up their dogs' poo obediently. Unfortunately, French dog owners don't seem to like doing this, so you have to watch where you walk - and poo is everywhere. It's like going back to the 1970s.

I also noticed the difference in standards of restaurant service between Britain and France. In the UK, you are normally greeted with a smile (often forced, but at least they make an effort) and are given your menu at the same time as the waiter shows you to the table, or else you get it within a couple of minutes of sitting down. Not so in France. In one restaurant we went into, there were plenty of diners, but nobody present who seemed to be working. So we showed ourselves to a table and sat down. Five minutes later, still nobody had appeared. So we left. The next day, we went to another restaurant for lunch. This time, a waiter did deign to indicate where we should sit. But then he vanished without bringing us a menu. Five minutes later a waitress appeared. She noticed we didn't have a menu, gave a little shrug and went off. "Ah!" I thought. "She is getting us a menu." But she never came back. We left there also. Last night I was so hungry, at the third Restaurant Of No Menu I decided to wait it out. Eventually a glaring waiter brought us one - at just under ten minutes. I was so glad we had gone self-catering so could mainly just feed ourselves.

Our flat had a tv that showed only French stations - which is OK for about two hours, but then I started to get a headache as I could only translate about 30% of what was said (if only I had tried harder at school). I saw the French version of Come Dine With Me. All the contestants were beautifully dressed (one of the men actually had a fan), the homes were exquisite and the meals were the stuff you get from places that have Michelin stars. Not like the UK then. If I was ever on Come Dine With Me. The starter would be a bowl of chips and the "entertainment" would involve me putting the tv on and handing out a box of Celebrations.

I also listened to an English-speaking radio station called Radio Riveria, which was unlike any radio station I'd ever heard. Its ideal listener seemed to be about 60 (judging from the fact that hardly any music after 1985 was played) and stinking rich (judging from all the adverts for yachts, people wanting personal chefs for their yachts and other yacht-related material). My favourite one was an advert for mooring your yacht in Tunisia as it was half the price of mooring it in Monacco (even oligarchs have to economise in these difficult times). I had hoped to go to Monacco and snare a millionairre (of either sex) who I would make fall in love with me and would give me my own yacht, but because of the train strikes it was not to be and instead I was stuck in Nice with dog poo on my shoe. Maybe next time.

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