You can learn a lot about a country based on what others notice about your country. For example, someone from a flat place might first notice the mountains when visiting Switzerland. Often our house guests from Seattle first comment on the graffiti they see in Zurich. It is only natural that we notice what is different. I arrived in Nice on Sunday for the Jeux de la Francophonie and my chatty chauffeur from the airport talked about her own experiences visiting Switzerland. In Switzerland, she said, one thing stood out above all others: “the time is the time.” Perhaps she noticed this since the speciality here is definitely not organization. But unlike other places they can get away with that by providing such a warm and beautiful location on the French Riviera.
What is the Jeux de la Francophonie?
The Jeux de la Francophonie is my last major competition of the season. It takes place every four years and is often referred to in English as the Francophone Games, but that is a misnomer. Indeed this is a multi-sport event bringing together the 77 member and observing states of the L’organisation international de la Francophonie. But this is more than a sporting contest; it is also a cultural event. The hammer throw competition was held at the same time as the juggling semifinal today. There are also competitions in literature, photography and street art. Spikes Magazine has a primer on the event. The competition is also much broader than you think. Those 77 states include mostly french-speaking countries and former french colonies. However it also includes countries like Poland and Qatar that only have a loose connection to France or the French language. This means that the hammer field is top notch, including world champion Pawel Fajdek, the best French and Canadian throwers, and world junior record holder Ashraf Elseify of Qatar.