I go to a lecture on Provence.
One of the best lecturers gave a talk about Provence. She's incredibly animated, very "sympa" and "charmante" (thanks for correcting that to "charm ant" for me, Mac, but no thanks), and very, very good at speaking to intermediate French students so that they can understand everything she is saying. I've loved all of her presentations.
She talked about the various regions and towns and history and so on. Very much made me want to spend some time there. When I got home I researched a possible two day trip down there this weekend (we have a four day weekend mini-vacation this week). But it just wasn't quite feasible. I think a little day trip to Chartres is what I'll do. But someday I'm definitely going to have to spend some extended quality time in Provence.
Then she got to Marseilles and was very funny. She first told us that Parisians and Marseillais hate each other. I can vouch for that because I knew an older coworker at the library at NU from Marseilles, and when I mentioned Paris once she spat and said she hated Parisians because "during the war they were all collaborators". Then she talked about the west side of Marseilles, which is a heavily industrialized area, very polluted, "une horreur". She called it "the Chicago of France". That totally cracked me up.
Finally, at the end, she got around to the Côte d'Azur. Totally dismissed it as having absolutely nothing of interest, to be avoided at all costs. "The tourists like to go there, but you are not tourists, so stay away." She said that lots of retirees live there, that when Parisans retire they sell their apartments in Paris and buy one on the Côte d'Azur, "for the sun". I guess that makes it the "Florida" of France, right?
When the lecture was over, as I was leaving I ran into the nice older couple from New Zealand that I've mentioned before. We said "bon soir" to each other and exchanged pleasantries. Then I saw a woman from my class and we did the same, commenting on how good the lecture had been, saying "à demain" as we parted. Nice! Human contact! What a concept!