For the last few days, France has been gripped by the news that the “tide of the century” was to happen on the 21 March 2015 and that the best views of this not to be repeated in my lifetime event were to be around St Malo and Mont St Michel, on the north coast of the country.
Fascinated as I am by the sea (we Brits are an island race after all), I spoke to the Laydee of the House and she agreed that we’d drive up and watch the spectacle.
Unfortunately for me, the drive up also coincided with the last day of the 6 Nations Championships, a day that England had a chance to win the title, so this was on the radio for the first half of the journey. England stuffed the French but not by enough to win, so after a bit of disappointment I turned the radio back to the news channel.
Listening to a story on the sight we were driving up to see, I turned to the Laydee of the House quizzically, to ask her if my French had let me down, but no, I’d heard right. The “tide of the century” was something that wasn’t to be repeated for 18 years.
18 years???? I might still be alive for the next two, let alone the next one. “Tide of the century?” What sort of scurrilous tourist trap was this?
Arriving into St Malo, traffic was at an absolute stand still. It took over an hour to get to the outskirts of the walled city and finding parking places was incredibly difficult. I eventually left the car in front of a civil service building, knowing full well that “les fonctionnaires” don’t work nights, weekends or even days quite often, and we made haste to the Corniche to see this once in a lifetime (if you only live to be 17) event.
Well, I’m not sure that disappointment is a strong enough adjective to describe my feelings after we realised that we’d seen everything we’d come to see, whilst actually seeing nothing.
A squib of dampness, Mother Nature at her most benign. I wanted spume. Where’s my spume Madame?
I saw the sea, it came up a bit, it went down a bit. Just as it does, twice a day, every day, year in, year out.
There were waves. Well, there was a tiny piece of foamy stuff as the sea moved up a concrete slipway. There was tens of thousands of people looking as glum as we were, but, desperate to make something of the evening, they were putting their welly clad feet into the very edge of the rising tide. Oooohhhhh the danger. There was a very slight risk of an amoeba being swept away in the carnage, other than that ….
The most excitement was when we headed back to the car, with police sirens howling everywhere and a family group told us the police had just looked at the car and had phoned the recovery truck company. We jumped in and headed off, giggling like school kids.
I’ll probably get a ticket in the post to further compound the day of joy I spent in St Malo.