Cities must have a soul – otherwise we sail on and find a better one
43° 7′ 14.82″ N, 5° 48′ 15.79″ E
July 7, 2016
Frenchmen have difficulty with the name of our boat, “Ronja”. In Sanary-sur-mer, we have previously signed up via cell phone, but when we enter the harbour master’s office, there is no recognition, when I spell “Ronja”. The person who accepted our call on the phone, had written our name as “Oneyeah”.
Knowledge of Astrid Lindgren’s writing in general and “Ronja Røverdatter” specifically is not deep in southern France.
Sanary-sur-mer is a very fine acquaintance. It is the neighboring city to the more famous city, Bandol. But we fancy ourselves that it is a more interesting city. It’s beautiful in the Provence-way with beige, ocher, white, dusty buildings interspersed with harsh green or blue shutters on the windows. The city has fishing boats, daily fish market, beautiful scenery, very few brand-shops and an excellent beach. There is such a little “People and robbers in Cardamom Town” (norwegian story) over it. With the tower and all.
The city has soul. One senses that here is life, even when the tourists have gone home. The city has cultural, architectural, historical, commercial and landscape values, that do not cave in during periods when only the permanent residents are here.
This need – that a city should have an independent soul – is no given thing in these parts. Some days later we call Cavaliere sur-mer. Fine port, good facilities, everything is neat. But the Cavaliere-sur-mer is obviously a city, that lives and breathes with tourism and not so much else. Close to the port is build a brand new entertainment district consisting of 20-30 restaurants and nightclubs plus a single carousel. The party goes on late into the night, but it’s hard to imagine the city as more than a ghost town, when beach tourists have gone home.
Do we sound as if we are sour having moored Ronja in the middle of a flashing disco? Well, it may be right.