This little corner of the Cote d’Azur has, over the past decade, become Babette’s court. Every weekday morning, between 8 and 10 am, a gathering of people arrives. All are over 70, several are in their mid-eighties. All are happily retired, some wealthy, some not, but all are comfortable. They meet to swim, or just to bob about in the water if they cannot swim. There is an unwritten rule that you stay in the water for at least half an hour, in order for it to do you all the good that it can.
When I first arrived, two years ago, I inadvertently parked myself in the key area. When the group began arriving, they merely arranged themselves around me, with a few polite nods and ‘Bonjour’s, and got on with their conversations and their bathing. Then one day, Babette pointed at me, and asked loudly of the group, ‘Who is she? Who is that lady?’. Nobody knew, so I sat up and introduced myself. ‘You are welcome, Madame,’ she said, smiling, and proceeded to introduce me to the others.
The next day when I arrived, Babette was already there. I prepared to lie in the sun, placing a colourful towel and a jolly book on the gravelly surface. ‘No! No no no madame!’ she said, wagging an imperious finger ‘Do not lie in the sun first’. She pointed at the water, ‘Get into the sea straight away, otherwise you get warm and it is then hard to go in’. She was right, so I did.