Written in Saint Martin Vésubie 18th October 2020. I am often described as living in Provence – which makes sense being a rosé specialist, but I actually live in the southern Alps, just over 40 miles north of Nice on the Italian border in a small medieval town called Saint Martin Vésubie. Originally on the salt trade route between Nice and Turin, it became a fashionable tourist location from the late 1900s when it was dubbed La Suisse Niçoise. The village was in the news on 30th August when the second day of the Tour de France whizzed through. It felt like fiesta time as we lined the main road, cheering on the cyclists. Just over a month later we were in the news again, for very different reasons.
Over the 30th September to 1st October 2020, Storm Alex swooped down from Brittany in north west France, arriving in the far south eastern corner of France, and my village Saint Martin Vésubie, by the morning of 2nd October. Throughout the day of the 1st we had received weather alerts on phones and email. “Move your car to somewhere safe”, “make sure you are prepared for flooding”. The messages increased, but, living at 1000m, we are used to the water running down the mountain and it is the lower villages which are hit, rarely us. This may sound more familiar to those living in the path of hurricanes, but not here. We have little earthquakes, landslides after rain, but not flood alerts.
On the morning of 2nd October it started to rain. Then thunder and lightning. It rained and rained, increasingly with greater power. Our electricity went on and off. By 4pm our electricity completely went, but the rain had eased a little. The Madone river at the bottom of our garden was swollen and roaring, and was... [...]