Having been in the Riviera for just over three weeks, I've learned six important things.
1. Clothes. The French don't wear any. Queuing up for McDonald's in a bikini is perfectly acceptable, as is (to my horror) taking all your clothes off on the side of the street and changing into a baggy thong for the beach, as demonstrated by an old man last weekend. Not sure if my eyes will ever recover after my sheltered existence in the Gulf.
2. Cars. Size counts, but the smaller the better. The French seem to get an adverse pleasure out of showing their status and, well, Frenchiness, by having a teeny micro car that only looks suitable for Scalectrix. I have fitted right in by hiring a Fiat Panda, which passes a striking resemblance to Noddy's car, which struggles into fifth gear but is fab for parking in ridiculously small mountainside spaces. In fact, the only gas guzzlers I have seen have been those driven by Arabs on holiday.
3. Dogs. Truly man's best friend here. They go into supermarkets, and banks, and even offer great barking welcomes in the arrival terminal of Nice Cote d'Azur airport. And they are almost always smaller than cats, or even rats (see point 2).
4. Paperwork. Second only to wine in the national league of importance table - a whole rainforest was destroyed just for my bank account application forms. Online applications? No chance.
5. Air-conditioning. Truly a luxury and one that very few have, which makes the 36 degree heat far more unbearable than a sweltering Dubai summer.
6. French TV sucks.