Report From Cannes

World

This morning’s view from my phone shows the easing of the torrential returning blue skies and – just out of shot – the first of the obscenely giant cruise ships to Cannes (average on-board age; 72). Like Berlin, Geneva, Venice, Taormina and er, Birmingham, Cannes is a trade show town; visit it in a different month and you would find yourself surrounded by dentists or antique dealers. Despite this cosmopolitanism, Cannes still manages to prove exasperating and impenetrable to the casual visitor; just ordering a coffee during peak events can become an obstacle course of ritual humiliation.

For many years there were hotels that only accepted cash. Menus still switch to higher figures at 1:00pm or on certain dates, there are arcane rules governing the availability of cabs, the entrance into bars and behaviour aboard yachts. There are buyers and sellers of all kinds who have been attending for decades, but who cannot afford to travel beyond the Bunker, the unlovely trade fair-dungeon wherein stuff is hawked.

But between trade fairs Cannes becomes just another seaside town, deserted at night, calm and graceful by day, and you get a sense of the impact that a few thousand trades folk can have on a formerly sedate coastal resort.

Cannes remains France at its foofiest – my dessert last night was a sphere of chocolate that, when broken into, reveal compartments of citrus fruits, lime foam and lemon cream, presented on a foot-long oblong plate with a diagonal smear of off-puttingly cloacal brown chocolate.

But behind the Fendi and Cartier shops is a railway line smothered in then worst graffiti imaginable. There are Algerians huddled in workmen’s cafes smoking and a staggering number of beggars. It’s the side of France Sarkosi seems happy to hide, and it’s the same all around the major cities. The tourists get the gorgeous parades; the workers get the rundown tenements.

And yet, it’s France, more a dream-state than a place for many overseas visitors, particularly US ones for some reason, who must have a visit preprogrammed into their DNA at an early age. The British have a rather different take on their neighbours, as the book ’2,000 Years Of Annoying The French’ reveals.

And the French are genetically annoying; last night the usually brilliant trains stopped running at 9:30pm without warning, necessitating an unplanned-for €100 cab ride. A shrug of the shoulders, a flick of the hands – Bof! – as the taxi driver said when I explained what had happened, ‘Vive La France’. I could have poked his eye out.

Today I’m packing a bag and hopping on the next passing train that works. Another report to follow.

6 comments on “Report From Cannes”

  1. Mary says:

    That’s SO interesting. I don’t think Poirot would have been too impressed with modern day Cannes.Look forward to hearing more.

  2. Helen Martin says:

    However, I would like to know what is wrong with 70 year olds taking a cruise. As someone who turns 70 in a month I would like to state that I have never been on a cruise and I live in a city from which week long cruises originate so if I had an opportunity I would be delighted to cruise somewhere. A repositioning one is the best I can hope for and not soon.
    Mary, Poirot was one of those visiting the above the darkness Cannes, not the shadowy side and he would still be in that part of the city.

  3. Gretta says:

    Somehow I knew the word ‘torrential’ would not be far away from these posts. What is it with you and holidays and rain, admin? I must say that I am enamoured with your foofy dessert, however. Did you happen to take a pic of that?

  4. Dan Terrell says:

    Admin’s initial line has this in it: “…my phone shows the easing of the Torrential Blue Skies.” Those last 3 words – while not unlike one of my heavy-fingered posts (Say I quickly to CYA) seem to contain a most unusual modifier, namely “torrential”. M. Poirot might deduce a few missing words at this point, n’estpa? Would these words be? Something like: “the easing of the torrential rains and the return of blue skies?”
    Is this yet another incidence of our Admin. visiting a place and being greeted with rain? If this is so, he may have a third ot fifth career as a rainmaker. If so I have a proposed advert. Voila! When in drought, call Chris Fowler out.

  5. admin says:

    Dan you surmise correctly – in the posting of my note, wily French goblins removed the phrase ‘rand and the return of’. It was, naturally, chucking it down forth first few days. I Am Rainmaker!

  6. Dan Terrell says:

    Cleaver typoing in your red-box comment, Admin.

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