Monday night and Guy’s telling me I need to be up at the crack of dawn next day to deliver him to his father’s office 20 miles away in Antibes whilst I am trying to find out where this female lives who is selling her Honda scooter . It just happens to be Antibes. Result!
The advert on the local forum had been promising. A scooter, apparently identical to the one I’ve already got but 3 years younger was available for a very good price but incredibly she couldn’t confirm the make, model or how many kilometers it had done (she did know the colour though – pretty silver !), but as I was driving Guy down that way it was worth having a look at it.
Her advert had said she was willing to negotiate as she was returning to England in a week’s time, which only made me more enthusiastic to get down there before anybody else beat me to it, and at 9.45am, 15 minutes early, there I was, standing outside the ‘Australian Outback Bar’ (yes really) on my phone asking exactly where she lived. ‘Look up to your left’, which I did and there she was, waving from a balcony of a rather swish apartment block, just off the harbour.
Probably no more than 25, speaking perfect English and French and with two under 5’s in tow, she took me into the yard and showed me the scooter. It had been lying there untouched for 3 months but it was immaculate. I managed to get it going and to cut a long story short, after a trial run, I bought it.
Now I won’t bore you with the logistics of getting a scooter back home when you’ve arrived at the seller’s apartment in a car, but needless to say, it involved quite a few journeys – cars, trains, buses and finally, scooters. The plan was to dump the car somewhere in Antibes, drive the new scooter along the coast to Cagnes and then get the train back to Antibes, pick up the car and drive it home. Then return to our ‘local’ station for the scooter.
It was a nice drive along the coast in the sun and the 30 minute journey gave me a chance to properly try out my new toy. Delighted with its performance, I parked the scooter at Cagnes train station, bought my ticket and waited for the train heading back in the direction of Cannes.
I got back to Antibes, drove the 20 miles home in the car and then persuaded J to drive me into Vence to get the bus which was the next part of the logistical nightmare, the part of the multi-transport journey which brought me back down to earth and restored my faith in the crazy world of the French .
From Vence and according to the published timetables, the number 400 bus would take me to the train station (where the scooter was parked)about 10 miles away. It left in 20 minutes time from the town square and when I got there, it was sitting in its bay. I was just about to board it when it just drove off – 10 minutes early! I ran after it and shouted in my best French, ‘are you the 3.45, number 400 going to the station?’ The driver just shrugged and drove off. But hey – that’s France!
Concerned a bit by this stage as that was the last bus of the day heading towards the station at Cagnes, I boarded another bus which was, according to the timetable and its signs, going nowhere near my destination, but in a sort of forlorn hope, asked the driver if he was passing anywhere near the SNCF at Cagnes. ‘Bien sur (of course)’ he replied and within 20 minutes I was reunited with my new Scoot as the kids call them here.
Now this is typical France. The bus which is supposed to be going to the station doesn’t, but the bus which is going nowhere near the trains, actually stops right outside the platforms – weird but French! This is why I use a scooter to get around!