France: the morning after

Elections have consequences.

Following Macron’s 1st round victory, I studied carefully the results by first reading the NY Times, before doing a more detailed followup by consulting two French regional newspapers: Nice Matin, and the Sud Ouest.

As you can see from the election map above, Nice went solidly for Le Pen.

Nice Matin provides further detail.

It’s abundantly clear that the Alpes-Maritimes region, and in particular, Nice itself, is a solidly right wing (Le Pen + Fillon = 55% of the vote) bastion.

Macron won big in Paris, as one would expect, but also in places like the South West of France.

His win in the Gironde department caught my eye. This is where Bordeaux is located, a city that popped out in a way that hadn’t before for me.

For example, En Marche ! (Macron’s new party) won with 26,14 % of votes cast in the Gironde.  Overall, Macron was not followed by Marine Le Pen, but by Jean-Luc Mélenchon (21,83 %); the Hitler candidate came in a distant third (18,2%).

In Bordeaux itself : Macron got 31,3% of the vote, ahead of  Mélenchon (23,4%), but it was Fillon ((21,8%) and Hamon (10,1%) who followed, with Le Pen trailing badly at 7,4%.

That pretty much settled it for me.  Vive les socialistes!

As I’ve indicated in earlier posts, I have no interest in moving from one right-wing nut job part of the world (Florida) to another (Nice).  I do have a soft spot for Nice, mainly because I spent a Junior Year Abroad there many years ago, and fell in love with a beautiful girl (who dumped me).

Well, that was then; this is now.

I’m already booked to leave the United States the first week of September.  I’m leaving the United States for obvious reasons.

When I booked, in early January, Marine Le Pen had not yet visited an Orange Clown lackey at the Berghof-on-Fifth-Avenue emporium.  But soon it became apparent that she might have a chance of winning, which is why I went into Gouna mode.

Now don’t get me wrong.

Gouna is very attractive at many levels, not the least of which is that I am originally from Egypt.

But there are cetain undeniable realities that are inconsistent with my general outlook on life, which has been deeply influenced by my late father’s disposition vis a vis authoritarian regimes.

Moreover, I reserve a special position in my life for arts in general, and literature in particular.

Gouna, as a childhood friend who now lives there part-time recently told me, is not really that big on books.

It’s mostly a touristy place, with armies of Germans and Italians passing through for a week of fun in the sun, and to enjoy the distressingly loud nightlife by the main marina, the “downtown” area, and the various DJ-ayed clubs in the hotels.

There are also about 20 thousand people who live there full-time. Many who do so, including Egyptians, appear to be quite wealthy — which is not something I can say about myself.

Another thing that stands out about Gouna is its apparent unrelenting pursuit of imitating American culture.

I have lived in America most of my life, and know the States and its culture fairly intimately.  I do not need really to travel to the Red Sea to experience a second-hand approximation of Americana; I have the real thing around me here.

What does interest me about Gouna is the surrounding desert and waters. I am also intrigued by the possible opportunity of venturing further south, away from Party Hell Hurghada, toward Quseir and Marsa Alam and Elba National Park.

There, it’s like scenes ripped out of some Cormac McCarthy novel: desolate, post-apocalyptic outposts in a forsaken part of the Red Sea, where you encounter clusters of half-built, abandoned hotels, decaying from lack of tourists and water, road signs fading under the glare of a relentless tropical sun, brownish palm frond beach umbrellas that stand like pointless sentinels on a rough, empty coastline, despite the gorgeous warm sea and it’s incredibly pristine marine life.

But to live in Gouna year round? Lovely place to visit… but…..

Strange marine pollution found on the beach in Lenval, a beach in Nice. One can easily say to hell with this greedy, unhappy town, with its exorbitant rents, the superficial, overly materialistic shiny blingy lifestyle, the touristy economy with restaurants that serve overpriced crappy food, its seedy old people who mutter constantly under their breath about Muslims (which is often a function of the Pied-Noir background of many elderly residents), the lingering horror on the Prom last year, not to mention the dogshit everywhere, the broad daylight theft by roving gangs of Eastern European thugs on motorcycles, the endless traffic and tram related construction, the Russian prosties and their Bulgarian pimps, the weakling right wing mayor and suffocating playboy race car driver ex mayor who sucks the air out of everything in Nice, the rats that come out at night on Ave Jean Medecin, the pleasant-to look-at but shitty beach, where the only actually sandy patch is artificial and miniscule, with the rest of the Bay of Angels’ plage blessed with uncomfortable-to-sit-on stone pebbles; and, finally, a sea that looks pretty from a distance, but is actually massively polluted, as this pic demonstrates.

Soudainement, it looks like I  might not end up there long term after all.

But hold on, now, wait a second.

What about Leaving America?  Is that all going out the window now?

Isn’t there one bloody place in the world outside of NYC where people are kind of more like me?

Where the vibe is pleasant, and there’s a nice mix of young and old and people in between.

Isn’t there a place where the winters are mild and the summers nice and hot?

Isn’t there a place where it drizzles just enough to keep everything clean and green, without the torrential downpours every bloody afternoon that we enjoy in Florida during the summer?

Isn’t there a place that has beautiful stone buildings and the sort of grand municipal architecture that reminds one of Paris, but where the cost of living is half that of the City of Light, or even Nice?

Isn’t there a place that has lots of English speaking expats, including Americans, so that my independent wife could easily make friends and not constantly have to speak in French or rely on me for everything?

Isn’t there a place with a fantastic, affordable public transportation network and where most working-age people have decent paying jobs and there crottes problem has been solved?

(Note: It seems there is an ~15-25 per cent unemployment rate in Bordeaux, depending on age, and that the tram runs okay in the city, but it is difficult to use public transport around the Department, or county, due to frequent strikes and lack of routes between small villages. Much like everywherd else in France, the French do not seem to think that picking up after their dogs is their responsiblity; thus you have to watch for dog shit sliders everywhere you go in Bordeaux, just like in Nice.)

A place where there are stunning, sandy beaches a hop skip and a jump away, not to mention a history that goes way back to Eleanor of Aquitaine and her son, Richard the Lion Hearted, and his notorious Holy Land escapades?

Drum roll….

Yes, of course there is.

It is, in fact, the marvelous city of Bordeaux.

An open secret among  savvy UK and US expats, and a really nice place to live. It even boasts a nifty, thoroughly modern 121-year old library!

Here’s a vid to introduce the former Sleeping Beauty.

And for those who can read French, there’s also this amusingly tongue-in-cheek Buzzfeed article that lists 36 reasons to NOT ever go there, but also this less amusing reality.

Let’s get serious.

France’s surfing capital, Biarritz, is 2 hours away by train.

Let’s get even more serious.

America the Beautiful. Source: NYT

I want to leave America and live in a place that my wife and I find more congenial in our heart of hearts than the vile provincialism of Trumplandia — even though there are unexpected delights, such as a Francophonic newspaper that is published right here in F-L-A.

My wife will not move to Egypt because she will NOT put up with wearing veils and such, not to mention the other cultural barriers.

I have a lovely UK/EU passport, which I just renewed.  It’s unlikely that May will be able to negotiate a hard Brexit under two years.  Five is what you need to establish permanent residency in France.

My UK passport will give us the right of residence for as long as May and her Tory Trumpian ass-kissers take to weasel out of the UK’s financial obligatin to the EU, without any hassles for my wife and I in terms of Carte de Sejour agita.  (As the wife of an EU national, my better half can also live with me in France.)

This summer, I anticipate that the Orange Clown and his despicable cohorts will make insurance skyrocket even more.  I have already paid well over $175,ooo in premiums to the twisted American health care system over the last 15 years. And I’m not the only one to do so. And soon, I fear that many of those who voted for this claque of racist mercenaries will be dying in the streets from hunger and disease, and no one will lift a finger to help them.  It will be like watching Animal Kindgom, as herds of migrating wildebeest get picked off by crocs, whilst those who have made it safely across impassively look on. Animal Planet, mate. Is that the sort of place where I want to live?

Enough already.

Like most people, we want access to excellent health care at an affordable price.

Bordeaux tram. Source: PD

We just might get gigglefits from living in Bordeaux, where the cost of living or retirement in general appears rather manageable.

No one’s getting any younger.

It’s time for my wife and I to actually enjoy life again, as we did for decades in Manhattan, far away from the gothic, plantation-era manias of the American South.

For that, we need an agreeable change of scenery.

My wife absolutely loves France, and I speak the languatge fluently. And the money behind such a move could be there, even if only just.

And so, we await the results of Round 2. With all the requisite ataraxy, of course.

C’est tout pour le moment.