New Caledonia, la douce France.

14 October 2015
Femke Lobach

IMG_2886Did you know that the French are able to sail around the world without leaving their country?

I didn’t until I crossed the Pacific. So many islands are French or a French protectorate; unbelievable. The people speak French, eat French food, the customs are French, the rules are French, the street signs are French, the flag is French or part of it. So if you are French you can just act like being at home, or better you are at home.

Anyway we arrived in New Caledonia; it feels like we are at the Cote d’Azur, unfortunately the ugly part of it. There are no historical buildings and I don’t think they have an urban planning commission as it is a mishmash of ugly buildings.

Forty percent of the inhabitants are French, either emigrated from France or born here and thus with a huge possibility of being a descendant from the French convict-colony. As of course France established a penal colony here in the nineteenth century, just like Papillion, prisoners were transported to this desolated island to either wither or help build a new French society.

I am not complaining nor being critical it is just that I have to get used to being in the Cote d’Azur again. The food is delicious, the Champion and the Carrefour make me drool. But it no longer feels as being on a Pacific Island as it is very organized, in a French way. It is incredibly crowded, too many cars and feels like the civilization part that I do not miss.

IMG_2887The nature is not just nature it is a ‘nature reserve’. The sea is not just the sea it is either a ‘marine reserve’. I see (road) signs and explanations every-where. Nothing is just what it is.

We are completely at a loss, as we cannot just go hiking. No! We have to pay an entrance fee, we get a map, we get an explanation from a ranger (another guy in uniform, French must love uniforms) and we can chose the easy yellow route, or the medium difficult blue route or the very difficult red one. It is a very stressful moment for us, all these choices we have to make since months.

We end up mountain biking in the South part of La Grande Terre, on the red route. It was, I have to admit a bit too difficult for me. I ended up in the bushes twice, walked the steepest parts and ended up towing Gijs the last five kilometres as he broke his bicycle chain. The French did put emergency phones everywhere in the ‘nature reserve’ but the bicycle-rental-shop’s number was missing.

It must be the Pacific influence or the French way of organizing things. Either way we got home safely.





One comment to “New Caledonia, la douce France.”

  1. Tony Smith says:

    Just a quick thank you for the pacific blogs – very interesting, and a vivid feeling of a real person writing about crossing this vast space.