Our plan was to sail along the Riviera as far as Menton, close to the Italian border and said to be very Italian in style. In the pictures it looked very Romeo and Juliet, all ochre buildings and clock tower. Unfortunately when John phoned to reserve a place there was no answer. He tried to book on line, but the page would not come up. Finally he made contact on the phone and was asked to try again later. We fetched out the Italian pilot book. It was not much further to San Remo. He phoned them and was answered straight away by a lady with a warm voice, so resonant I could hear it from across the cabin. ’Of course’ she had space for us on Sunday evening. ‘Avanti!’ So on Sunday morning we cast off as dawn was rising on Cannes and set off for a cruise along the Riviera.
It was a still day, for the first time we have sailed the wind instruments read zero. We motored out avoiding the fishing boats and threaded our way round the Isles de Lerins, on one of which stands the tower where the man in the iron mask was said to have been interred. Although all was clear when we set off, once underway a light haze hampered our view of the shore. We motored along and squinted at the famous resorts in their veil. By eleven we were passing Nice, but it was indistinguishable from the other villa studded hillsides along the coast. Monaco did stand out, its’ high-rise glamorous on the shoreline as the mountains soared behind. By twelve we were crossing the border into Italy. France has just whizzed by with a flourish.
San Remo stands beautifully amongst the mountains, the town climbing up the slopes studded with dome topped churches. John called on the radio and was answered by the same lady who took the booking, ‘Ah yes, Lyra’ she remembered us, we should go round to where the men were waiting. We saw them on the end of a pontoon in matching red T-shirts, waving us forward. With two to take our lines and a massive space to fit into berthing was a piece of cake. Afterwards we went up into the office and the rich voice came from a slight blonde lady, whose ‘Avanti’ sang out each time she answered the radio. It was so lovely there we booked for two nights, rather than our intended one.
From the office we headed out along the sea shore and it was all very seaside, but with very smart green and yellow beach parasols and matching loungers set out, rather than the usual melee of spread towels and assorted sunshades. There were some steps down from the prom into the beach bar.
A large TV stood in the center of the bar with a few men sat watching Turkey and Croatia kicking each other. Naturally we joined them. John was most reassured. Coverage in France has been discrete, despite being the host nation. Most restaurants would not countenance even having a set in the back and the bars seemed to bring them out for the France game and then take them back in again. Here the streets are festooned in green, white and red and the screens abound. Moreover quite a lot of the games are free to air. Tomorrow night is Italy’s first game and we will be cheering them on.