Making friends here in this area wasn't difficult at all. In the years following our arrival, the science park of Sophia Antipolis opened its gates to companies from all over the world: Dow Corning, Digital now Compaq, Andersen consulting et al and all of them flying in their brightest and best. We made friends with people of all nationalities perhaps because we all shared a spirit of adventure and a love of France. They were heady days, pre children, discovering the South of France together while the red wine flowed.
Time moves on and with the recession biting, those companies started withdrawing, regrouping. Relocating employees costs a fortune so the friends started packing to return to their respective countries.
With the birth of the children our friendships changed and grew to include the parents of our children's schoolmates and as we lived on a small estate of family houses our neighbours joined the club. And without doing it consciously we started choose our friends from among the people who could be relied on to stay. Friendships here tend to be more intense. Because we rely on our friends to act as our back up in emergencies when families are too far away we are prepared to invest a lot of emotion and it's gut wrenching for all of us when someone leaves.
18 months ago a Canadian family whom we'd known for ten years whose children had grown up alongside our own, had to return to Canada. We knew we would miss them terribly.....
So to give them good memories to take away with them a group of us decided to organise a spectacular leave taking. As with any occasion organised by a commitee there were differences of opinion. Take these photos, for example. They show the Chateau de St Martin near Taradeau in the Var famous for its cru classes wines.
Some of us, interestingly the "foreigners" i.e. those not from Provence, thought it was the dream party place: we imagined tables groaning with good food, with buckets of chilled champagne set out under the shade of the plane trees overlooking the "parc a l'anglaise" and ourselves drifting in pale floaty dresses under the moon; the ladies that is.... Too, too romantic.
Others, the Provencal French, weren't so convinced declaring it "moche" or ugly. They wanted something sleek, chic and sophisticated...
We did all agree, however, that an hour's drive home after a party was 55 minutes too long!
I'll complete the tale in later posts but in case you're looking for the perfect place for a party the staff of the Chateau de St Martin:chateaudesaintmartin.com are all lovely. Some speak English and all are very helpful and their prices were reasonable.
And I still regret not holding the party there!