Yachting is a symbol of affluence and carefree enjoyment of your riches - so they tell me! As the financial crisis rumbles on, I can't think of a worst time to hold a boat show. But, on Saturday, my birthday, the organisers were expecting maybe 200,000 brave people to the 48th Paris Boat Show. As the day wore on, and it became clear that a yacht was not going to be wrapped up on my doorstep, I couldn't help but feel sorry for the organisers. As Him indoors would tell you - and he should know - there's nothing worse than standing in a freezing cold shop waiting for elusive customers to come in and buy.
A little closer to home, the club in our village holds regular functions to keep its residents warm and amused. Although a visit to the Paris Boat Show wasn't on the menu - for some reason I don't think many of our neighbours seemed interested - it is planning a few exciting watery events next year. In February, there's a trip to the Nice carnival and the fete du citron at nearby Menton: c'est an escapade sur la riviera des fleurs. And in October, la piece de resistance, a Mediterranean cruise, organised by la federation nationale des aines ruraux. This is a national organisation encompassing social clubs in most rural villages like ours.
This club is a valuable way to get people out of their homes and meet other people. In fact, when we first arrived, we thought we were the only English people here until we attended a meal catered by the club at the Salle des fetes (village hall). I remember arriving and chatting to a couple of French ladies near the entrance door. They said 'Are you going to sit at the English table?' I said 'What English table?', surprised. That was nearly four years ago now, and we haven't looked back since. Vive la france and especially vive les francaises. They've really made us feel welcome here; long may it continue.