Fri 6 Jul 2012 16:21

It's beautiful and fascinating here. 

Wide shaded streets lead from one beautiful plaza to the next. These pictures were taken during the day so don't really give the right idea, but by 8pm everybody is out. Whole families, arm in arm with grandparents, best dressed girls, shouting boys,  jiggling babies in prams. They are walking, looking at the shops, sitting at the cafe tables which spill out over the pavements everywhere, roller skating, cycling, running, but mostly, just people watching. That song, something like: "Girls watch the boys who watch the girls watching boys who watch the world go by..." comes to mind. There's gangs of glamourous Grannies, dapper old Gentlemen in blazers and bright belts, circles of teenage girls in shorts their fathers would be shocked to see them wearing out, and swarms of young men, in pairs and gangs, threading past everyone on cycles and skate boards, groups breaking up and reforming, taking videos of each other on their phones.

And the shoes! The clothes are interesting - don't get me wrong, less frilly and layered and, well, looking as if they're not trying as hard than the French do, but interesting all the same. the cut of a jacket, the matching of materials, the putting together of colour catches your eye. But, clearly, they take shoes VERY seriously here. Just as an example, the school kids have their little gingham summer frocks, like in England, and the boys their shorts, but their school shoes are red, bright patent red for the girls, with matching ribbons in their hair. None of this black clarks nonsense! Some of the shoes one sees are just marvellous - how do they stay on? Others are horrendous - how do they manage to walk in them? Some are so inventive - how did someone manage to think up that? But they are all chosen with care. One finds oneself walking along looking at people's feet rather than heir faces!

I have never seen so many variations of little dogs, everything from perfect miniature copies of dobermans, through wiry little snappy ones, to curly haired sausage dogs. They even have shops with little jackets, hats, carrying bags and so on in for sale. And everybody seems to have them, from little old ladies, through families, to hulking big chaps. We saw one skinny little dog who had clearly escaped for the evening, he was so full of vigour and joy, darting out of reach of those trying to catch him, rushing off to challenge dogs twice his size, I was so pleased to see one escaped from being pampered and fussed and petted - a big dog's heart in a small dogs body.

The church bells don't clang out the hours here, they chime them with beautiful little melodies. In the main plazas there are musicians, either simply playing on a bench or on one of the many little outdoor stages provided for them. If you turn down the side streets, cool, shady narrow streets, high buildings with glazed doors instead of windows, opening on to narrow iron work balconies you'll see children with their toys out playing on the doorsteps, cider bars, empty inside, crowded outside, little shops with high high wooden shelves and ladders to get to the goods, the sound of someone practicing their saxophone drifts out of an open window.

I have to tell you about the cider. It's obviously a really big thing here, you can get every kind of souvenir with 'Cidre' written on it. Firstly, if you go in a bar and ask for a cider, it means a bottle, not a glass, ask for two ciders, you get two full bottles and just one glass. Each group of people only get one glass, straight sided, a little smaller than a pint glass but about the same diameter. The cider is poured from as high as you can reach, right above your head, into the tilted edge of the glass held as low as you can go with the other hand, four feet or more, just a couple of inches into the glass. The drinker knocks it back, leaving just a little to rinse out the glass - pouring the dregs on the ground, before it gets re filled for the the next person. I don't know why but this high pouring thing really works - it tastes as rough as summer party welsh cider, if you just drink it straight off, but after it's been poured like that it's really good! Pouring the dregs on the ground all the time doesn't matter because the street cleaners are out around 6 am sweeping, then hosing, all the streets down.

And finally the beach... lovely fine sand, great surf rolling in to jump over, swim under or try to body board in. We're having a good time!