Sometimes we take chances and they don’t go well. We had booked this apartment at the Mediterranean via a distant acquaintance who had gushed about the balcony and the view over the ocean. We had arranged everything via email contact with the owner, and the price was cheap. We figured it would be an adventure.
She was right about the view. But she neglected to tell us that the flat is located in the middle of a working class beach island ghetto, above what seems like a drug dealer gathering place, that every evening from 12 to 3am bands of drunken young men wander about goading each other with vodka drinking songs at the top of their lungs, banging on garbage cans. Each morning, the beach is littered with beer and vodka bottles. You have got to be kidding.
What amazes us is that no proper French family man yells out his window at the youths to go away and shut up, a reaction I would have expected from my years in Italy. Are they all intimidated? My French is not good enough to approach a neighbor and inquire. Language subtlety would be required and I am not there yet. So, we lie in bed at 2 am and speculate: are the French families afraid? Or is this a type of behavior they expect as the price to be paid for a week at the beach? There are many families here, with small children and with parents who look as though they work very hard and need a relaxing vacation. Don’t they want their sleep? Last night it was cool enough to keep the windows closed, and still we were woken and lay wondering whether our car would be vandalized on a group’s marauding path. (No, it wasn’t. I don’t think the drunks are hostile. They are just loud and stupid).
I remember hearing that the Mediterranean coast in France is spoiled. Now I understand. Cheek by jowl concrete blocks, shopping at the alimentation camping rather than the beautiful fresh markets I had imagined. What were the French municipalities thinking? Was it to allow the masses to have a chance to summer at the sea? Well, ok, but surely there would be a way of building structures with style? Has no one heard of green space? And, then, again, what is the problem with the drunks? Why is this tolerated?