29 July 2008

Sacre Bleue – it’s a Car park……..

When I re-located to Tourrettes some 9 years ago, my partner with whom I had become re-united, would disappear with monotonous regularity to this place or person called Cap Troismille. Julie would invariably stay there all day and would return home a much happier person than when she left. Now this could have meant many things; a French lover; two French lovers; or she had a double life and there was a property on one of the Caps where she regulalrly needed to spend the entire day. Of course, all three could have been valid !

During my investigations, I found Cap Ferrat, Cap D’Antibes and Cap Lardier amongst many others but I could not find Cap Troismille which made me highly suspicious. This was something of a bitter-sweet discovery as all of the Caps around the Med attract the very wealthiest of people. If she was having an affair with some wealthy geezer it might even be the Chairman of Rangers Football Club, David Murray who has a house on Cap d’Antibes. He might be able to pass on some tickets for the more popular games. If she wasn't having an affair but had a house on the Cap - bingo !

Cap Ferrat is one of the most exclusive areas in which to own a house in the world. Paul Allen the co-founder of Microsoft owns (or at least owned) a property there and if you can afford a house anywhere (like he can) and you buy on Cap Ferrat it must have a certain cachet.

The same goes for Cap d’Antibes, a slightly more down-market Cap which only attracts the likes of Paul McCartney and Roman Abramovich. It is less developed than Ferrat as it is more rocky and has a lighthouse situated in it’s centre and so the buildable land mass is more restricted. Nevertheless, I would be quite happy to exchange my present house for any on Cap d’Antibes – sight unseen !

The other Cap I discovered as I did my impression of a Private Investigator was Cap Lardier which is just around the corner from St Tropez and must therefore, by definition, be somewhere rather fancy. This Cap is even less developed than either of the other two.

And so my hunt went on as Cap Troismille entered Julie’s vocabularly at regular intervals. It was obvious she was having a bit on the side (or on the Cap) as she became happier and happier as she counted down the days until her next visit. When the time came, she put on her best gear, smelled like a perfume shop and sang as she went out the door. Even her friends were in on the secret, some of them even went with her – a threesome possibly ! Conversely, within a few days of returning from this Troismille fellow, Julie would become morose and distant. Not willing to share a word let alone a smile.

And then one day I discovered her secret. My heart fell. I gulped air down as my lungs collapsed. My eyes wattered and the salty liquid blinded me. I cried and cried. There was no hope now.

On my way to the airport I had taken a wrong turning and there it was Cap 3000. The biggest shopping mall and car park in the South of France, called Trois Mille because it has 3,000 car parking spaces !

Nine years on and I can honestly state that I can count on the fingers of both hands the number of times I have ventured into its air-conditioned, luxury environment. The reason I don’t go is that it costs you money to go there – today I was reluctantly dragged there to get some new clothes (Julie thinks I look like a tramp) and left several hundred euros worse off. Julie on the other hand loses years off of her lined face and gets a spring in her step as she enters its portals. As she passes through the various mall alleys, shopkeepers shout out, ‘Bonjour Mrs Evans’, ‘Mrs Evans – so good to see you again’. She cannot pass a single shop without the Catre Bleu jumping out of her handbag and dashing to the cash desk where it waits patiently for the shopkeeper to push it into the card reader. Old habits die hard even for inanimate objects when Julie goes shopping.

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