It’s a week since I found myself next to the flooded River Rhone in Avignon and I am now travelling further south, along the coast of the Var region. When I reach the beach town of Le Lavandou, the devastation of the floods in this area become all too apparent. I park up on a road that runs just behind the beachfront apartments, between the ports of Le Lavandou and Bormes-les-Mimosas, where several other motorhomes seem to have settled. Only one week ago, they would have been submerged under a few feet of water and the car I’m parked next to is evidence of that. The small black Renault is covered in dark brown mud both inside and out.
When I try to take a walk along the beachfront boardwalk and promenade I find most of it blocked by metal barriers and candy-striped tape. Cafés have been crushed by the wooden boards, now looking more like a roller coaster spiral, and wrought iron benches have been ripped from their concrete bases an upturned in a pile of broken pavement and sand. The beach itself is littered with reeds and branches and the apartment car parks are filled with piles of muddy gravel and damaged furniture. I find that the town hall is open, extremely unusual as it is a Sunday. However, a notice in the front window explains that they are open to assist those who need help and financial compensation for the flood damage. Next to it, a newspaper article praises the local services and volunteers who have helped in the clean-up operation of the town.
On the way back I am wondering how many people are unaware of the damage to their properties. So many of the houses and apartments in this area are only used as holiday homes and their owners, who are possibly back in Paris, may be oblivious to the events that have occurred in the small town of Le Lavandou. After all, the journalists have been more interested in the extra-marital activities of the leader of the country. Sadly, I discover a large bin filled with soggy paperback novels and this really breaks my heart. I can’t imagine what it must be like to lose such possessions in such a way and I hope I never have to find out.