Paris by the Mediterranean it’s not, but it has lots that Paris doesn’t have. Unlike many towns on the coast, it’s a year-round city and doesn’t put up the shutters in December, and it doesn’t have the miserable winters of the capital. Parking is a nightmare but public transport is good, which is good for the planet. And although it can be frustrating at times, they do things like cutting the six-lane promenade down to two in order to make more room for walking/roller-skating/cycling on the prom.
Just now the streets are total chaos – some of them have already been closed for two years, and traffic barely trickles through the city’s two main squares: place Masséna and place Garibaldi. They are installing a tramway system – or as they call it in French: le tramway.
(Sept 6) Tonight’s big football match, part of the eliminations from the 2008 European Cup, (‘Oh no, not again!), is between France (European Champions 2004) and Italy (World Champions 2006). The French press are calling it the revanche for Italy having beaten France in the World Cup final. France will be without star striker Zidane and are claiming that he should be absolved from his suspension. After all, they argue, the Italian striker Materazzi insulted Zidane’s sister (et ta sœur – and your sister – is a fairly common response to a verbal insult), while all Zidane did was to deliver a running head-butt on Materazzi. It will be a better match – and a better sport – without them.
(Sept 7) France won 3-1. One of those games after which you wonder why you spend so much time watching football. France were the better side – but it was more Italy being the worse. Refereeing was, as we've come to expect, appalling. But some praise is in order: to the crowd (French) for being able to keep up the constant booing of the Italians throughout the whole game (including through their national anthem); and to French captain Viera for his dexterity in managing to hit an Italian with one hand and catch him again with the other hand before he hit the ground.
When Poland was throwing out communism and communist icons were tumbling all over Eastern Europe, the government of Nice decided they should have a symbolic record of the times. So they renamed one of their streets. But the people at one end of the street were quite happy with their original name, and objected to the change. So a compromise was reached. Now, one end of the street is called boulevard Lech Walesa. The other end remains the boulevard de Stalingrad.