Alas, over a week has passed since our last blog, which means this is going to be a long post! When we last wrote, we were acclimatising to the heat in Nimes, and preparing for the not so long trip to Marseille, where we had no idea where we would spend the night, since our arranged host there cancelled on us at the last minute. We were feeling fairly confident in the good people of couchsurfing from our experiences thus far (ecxept obviously the non-host in Marseille), so we decided to follow a fairly risky plan of action on the advice of the couchurfing ambassador of Marseille (it was a bit like going to the embassy) and attend the weekly beach meeting when we arrived there, in the hope of finding someone to host us. Well… perhaps we started off on the wrong foot in Marseille (the town where a toilet seat is a rarity), when, finding ourselves with an hour to spare, we decided to busk outside the main train station only to be harangued by security guards who told us that we could play “normalement” (with case closed) and stay, but if we were there for “les petits monnaies” then no… We carried on with case closed, but people just seemed confused. Then we went to the beach, where some sun-loving couchsurfers had gathered. At first, perhaps because we arrived a bit earlier than most, we felt a bit out of our depth, being the only non-locals there. But some of the elders of the couch surfing circle went out of their way to make us feel at home. In fact, we had found a place to stay within minutes of arrival, although this remained unclear for some time, since our newly found host didn’t seem that interested in talking to us. Over the next several hours we met several other couchsurfers who were in the same boat as us, and enjoyed barbeque on the beach and had some fascinating conversations, on topics ranging from nannying, the state of french streets (namely the vast quantities of doggy doo that can be found and hopefully avoided), to the use of the mooncup. Our most immediate concern had shifted from our sleeping situation for the night, to keeping sand out of our busking gear. Finally, after the sun had long set, and much food and drink had been consumed, it was time to go home with our new host, who fortunately had a car. It has to be said that our host was quite lovely and generous, however, we weren’t prepared for what awaited us at her apartment. Let’s just say that although we could have stayed two nights, one night was plenty.
The following day, having left our host’s apartment at 7am as she left for work, we waited for the rest of the world to be ready for buskers. One of our new friends at the couch surfing meeting had told us that the Cours Julien is a popular spot with buskers, and had suggested that our only potential competition would be the accordion players (mushrooms) and a transvestite singer, so we spent the morning hanging out there and just taking in the atmosphere. Hmm, atmosphere…. Marseille was quite simply the dirtiest city that either of us have ever been in. I used to think that street sweeping wagons were a noisy and smelly inconvenience, but there’s a city that could use some. When we finally did start busking, around noon, we were approached with “Felicitations!” after only our first song; it was the owner of a nearby restaurant, who offered us a standing gig, playing two nights a week. Suddenly it seemed unfortunate that we were leaving the next day, but we gladly agreed to play that night at the restaurant. Although we had wanted to rehearse and learn some new songs for the gig, we spent the rest of the afternoon finding a hotel to stay in for that night. After many failed attempts, and having walked all over the city, we finally found a place, right next to the train station. Although we were absolutely exhausted, our gig that night was a huge success. Altogether, including tips, we made 70 euros (more than covering the cost of the hotel), got free dinner and drinks, and we met some cool locals, who invited us to hang out with them afterwards. Not bad for a hard day’s vagabonding!
The next day, having (finally!) done some laundry, we took the train to Cannes, where we met our next hosts, Patrick and Sonia. Neither of us were hugely excited about being in Cannes itself, perceiving it as the quintessential moneyed tourist trap town, but our hosts were fabulous. Upon arrival, we were greeted with beer. Which was followed by another beer. Which was followed by wine. Two hours later we were still drinking with Patrick in a swanky bar in down-town Cannes, where he was telling us about a short film that he is planning to make later on this summer. Well, it turned out that their casting wasn’t quite complete, and one of the key parts will be a girl, singing and playing the guitar. In short, I was more or less exactly what he was looking for for the part, and I ended up being offered a role in the film, which gives me something to look forwards to after all of this is over!
Aside from thoroughly enjoying our stay with Patrick and Sonia, we had a rather lucrative and enjoyable busk along the Avenue Jean Medecin in Nice, and the next day, a surprisingly successful busk along the Croisette in Cannes. It seemed like our luck was just getting better and better, but then we found ourselves in Cagnes sur Mer(de). We don’t want to dwell upon that since we had thought our days (and worse: nights) of infestation were over… But in spite of the sleeping situation, our host was very kind, and in addition, a talented fellow guitarist. We were able to spend another day busking in Nice, and a lovely evening in Antibes, where the water was lovely and warm, even as the sun was setting. How romantic… Unfortunately, we didn’t take any photos. Apologies for the heavy read.
Aaaand yesterday we arrived in Montpellier, where we are staying with the lovely Sophie in her very Zen apartment, which seems to be the perfect place to recover from the last few days. Today we spent the afternoon on the streets of Montpellier, busking at various pitches and enjoying our surroundings. It was our most financially productive busk yet, and Erin even felt obliged to exercise his french skills and inform our crowd “C’est tout!” after we had run out of energy, and our amp was as well.
Tomorrow we go to Clermont-Ferrand, which is amongst volcanoes, which is quite exciting, although we are not sure what to expect of the town itself – we have been warned that it is something like the equivalent of America’s ‘fly-over states’ – you go there if you really have to… ah well, we’ll see!