I really don’t find much of interest in Cannes itself. It’s just one of many communities along the French Riviera, known best for the famed Cannes Film Festival. I ended up doing the tour to Monte Carlo, which is where the really rich and snobby folks go, and Nikki ended up going to Nice. Both, IMHO, are more interesting than Cannes. Our mostly Australian guests, used to calling Cairns in Queensland “cans”, had to be reminded that in France, Cannes is “can.” I did it in my lecture by showing a slide of beer cans: four for Cairns, Australia (“cans”) and one beer can for Cannes, France (“can”). It worked!
I haven’t been quite as successful on the tipping issue. “Australians don’t tip!” Many act like it is a point of national pride. Which is fine. I’ll enjoy Australia. I don’t like when the tip is added automatically to the check because then it doesn’t act as a reward for good service and the service in restaurants that automatically add the tip generally reflects the fact that servers get the tip, good, bad or just mediocre. On the other hand after enjoying a good meal, good service, and a bottle of wine, I hate having to do the math to figure out the appropriate tip. Generally I just let my wife do the math. So that’s fine that folks don’t choose to tip in Australia, and by the way, like to drive on the left . . . I almost said “wrong” . . . side of the street. But, “When in Rome . . . “ you’d better do as the Romans do. Since my job is to help people have a wonderful time ashore and understand the local customs, I’ve had to explain the facts of life in regard to tips. It’s gotten mixed reviews. I’ve had to patiently explain that I’m not trying to change anything in Australia, it’s just that “When in Rome . . . “
Some folks are digging in their heels, others are tipping appropriately, and others are tipping anyone and everyone in sight! One lady did take me aside and say, “You know, Richard, this ‘Australians don’t tip’ isn’t true. We tip 10-15% in good restaurants just like you do. It’s just a lot of these folks are just cheap and don’t want to spend the money, or come from the rural areas and don’t know what’s expected.” Hmmmm. One guest even shared with me a very interesting Australian magazine called “R.M.Williams OUTBACK.” After reading it, and looking at photos of folks who could well be our guests, I guess I understand a bit better.
Anyway, the Riviera was fun . . .well, mostly. In the Casino at Monte Carlo, which our guests had paid to visit on a tour which tour company in turn paid for them to visit the Casino, were incensed when these snobby folks working in the Monte Carlo Casino refused to allow them to use the rest rooms in the casino, insisting that they leave and use the “commoners” rest rooms outside because “foreigners aren’t allowed to use the rest rooms in the casino.” Interesting, because by law locals aren’t allowed to enter the Monte Carlo Casino! You have to show that you are a “foreigner” to enter. One incensed passenger took it out on the attendant loudly proclaiming, “We fought for you guys in two world wars and you have the nerve to treat us like dirt!” (He was a little more direct and descriptive.) Later, he went back, apologized to the gal, told her he understood it was the snobby Casino’s policy, not hers, and gave her a generous tip.