THe insatiable appetite of wealthy or retired Italians, French and English for that sea view and Mediterranean mild climate means unsentimental developers ruthlessly convert property from a previous age to yet another ugly maximum return for investors.
Here on the Baie de Garavan one of the last pretty pink villas on the seafront is badged with the mandatory building works declaration. To be knocked flat and replaced by six floors of cringe-making modern utility 2 - 3 bed appartments with balconies.
A lone protestor defaces the signboard with accusations of destroying Mentons heritage. "promoteur - assasin du patrimonie!" Not that the many retired Italian purchasers care - they will have their place in the sun.
Somewhere in the democratisation of second home-ownership is perihelion - the point at which the system overbalances. Too many holiday apartment blocks and nothing of what made people want to live there in the first place - the beauty of the Riviera. You end up with what you have in much of Portugal and Spain - places which are nothing but an invention of developers. No culture or heritage: soulless apartmentopolis, the only jobs for pool cleaners.
How not to preserve your heritage
Here in Menton a hopeless attempt to preserve a historical monument - the Chapelle St Jaques - dwarfed by the monstrous residence behind it.
Its actually the chapel that looks out of place rather than the apartments.
Eccentrics and (don't) care in the community
A slice of life past the pretty tourist pictures in Menton's main shopping street. If you're still in a state of rebellion fifteen years after you should havesettled down, or just plain bonkers, then why not do your thing somewhere warm and sunny?
PeopleWatch Exhibit A:
She has hair colourants to shock, body piercings galore, and tatoos that would look more in place on a squaddie waking up with memory loss after a drunken stag night. Rebel rebel. A red cigarette lighter matches the hair, lace trimmings - "feminine-ironic" Her expression tells of inner turmoil. But how did that arm get broken? I know every picture tells a story, but this is Pulitzer stuff.
PeopleWatch Exhibit B:
Man to the rear in a blue utility suit, holding an animated conversation with an imaginary friend. Possibly having an argument with himself, and losing. A man who fell to earth, and missed.
Though the French hospital system is said to be the best in the world - certainly the most over-staffed - there is certainly no shortage of people in the community who have mental health problems who just wander around, shouting at their reflection in shop windows, or trying to shake off their shadow, convinced its following them.
Fortunately most of this is really harmless.
People Watching: Factor 8
The worst thing is here is a traffic jam.
Otherwise, this place is known for retirees.
They are very polite and have lots of time to enjoy 2 hour French lunches everyday. I thought is was really wonderful. The French lifestyle is much better than the American one.
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