Crossing the border
23 August 2009 | Just north east of Menton
Hot but swell and wind against us
Roaring Girl has been in France for two years. Quite a lot of it ashore while we went to NZ, and when we were working, so it's very exciting to move on. Down came our tattered French courtesy ensign, stowed away till we get to Corsica, and up went our spiffy new Italian replacement.
It's one of the few times we have seen a land border in daylight from the sea. In 2006, Spain appeared from the high seas out of the fog late in the afternoon; we crossed into and out of Portugal overnight, and the second time, from a long way off shore. The next year, we crossed back into Portugal in the dark, and then transited international waters to reach Morocco. The Spanish/Gibraltar border we saw, of course; when we left though, there was quite a haze and we had the peculiar experience of crossing the 8 mile Gibraltar Strait unable to see both Europe and Africa at once.
From Morocco, we entered Melilla at night, and we crossed open sea to get back to Cartegena in Spain. France in turn loomed out of the mist of the Golfe de Lyons.
So you can see that a clear picture of the ravine that marks the current French/Italian border is an unusual event.
We say 'current' because this has been disputed land for centuries. Even Nice has been Italian, which shows in the lifestyle and the architecture. On the other side of the coin, San Remo was independent till a couple of hundred years ago. Italy itself, as a unified country, is even newer, being created in 1861. As Pip points out, that makes the state younger than New Zealand.