Mary Branscombe (marypcb) wrote,
Mary Branscombe
marypcb

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Cannes can shine...

I spent last week on the Cote d'azure for 3GSM, the mobile phone shindig... veterans of previous years tell me it was the best weather the show has ever had and I carried my coat over my arm all day Monday so I left it back at the hotel. The sky was blue, the sun liquid warmth on my neck whenever I got out of doors and the sea is the most gorgeous colour when you can actually see it. The show halls were overwhelming and I spent nearly all my time in meetings; many of them in hotels and marquees, the nicest in a beach cafe and the most unusual driving around in a BMW to see a GPS navigator in action (running on a smartphone). The hotel was quite a way up the coast, in Beaulieu-sur-mer and I eschewed the crack of dawn coach for a train along the coast (beautiful until Nice, which is nothing but road works, and after Nice). There's one spot, just outside Biot, where you can see the curve of the beach, the beautiful blue sea, the strange three-part wave-curved circle of luxury apartments, the hills beyond and the snow-capped alps all at once. delightful.

Cannes is smothered by the show - next year in Barcelona, is the cry - with traffic jams all along the promenade (on the pavement as well as on the road). The yachts are crammed in along one side of hall 1 (it goes up to 6 rather than 11, though it feels like it) but for insurance reasons they don’t sail anywhere. The food varies from fantastic to rubber chicken to non-existent if you end up with too many meetings; the final night we ate in the hotel restaurant. Gourmet Provencal; stuffed cockles, scampi with lentils, sea bass on shredded vegetables and a 'milk chocolate peanut shortcake tart'. And a 1976 armagnac that went 'woof'.

I skipped the crack-of-dawn flight home and took the train to Lilles (6 hours 45) which is a scenic route up the coast, through vineyards, past the snow-covered massif central and over wide rivers where the concrete bridges are adorned with regular scarlet dots and the pylons are painted gay blue and yellow. Simon took slightly less time to drive over from London (courtesy of vile traffic in Kent and vile one-way rounds in Lilles) and we met at the station. Eventually we found the art deco Art Deco Romarin and enjoyed dinner on the battlements of the old town wall; quite a contrast with the funky office blocks of Eurolille and the copper-wrapped Crowne Plaza perched over the railway station.
Tags: geek, technology, travel
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