Years of airport goodbyes allowed me to master the art of holding back tears. I never let anyone, especially not my family, take me to the airport. I made the mistake once—never again. It’s just too hard. Everyone is in tears and you still have to board the goddamn plane.
Monthly Archives: July, 2014
Nantes is definitely more touristic than it was before. Every day, I see dozens of people—couples, families, single travelers—wandering around the city core, the “Journey to Nantes” booklet in hand and a camera slung over their shoulder.
It’s been hot and stormy in Nantes, and staying indoors is not an option. There are seven of us (plus a cat) in a two-bedroom apartment and of course, like most French, we don’t have air-con (unless opening the windows counts as air-con).
Much has been written about French food, from the classic “French women don’t get fat” mystery to haute cuisine drool-worthy cookbooks.
“Fingers in the nose!” I laughed. “Les doigts dans le nez—it’s a French idiom, it’s used to describe something that’s super easy. I guess they want to show that buying the pass is the easiest and cheapest way to ride the tramway.”
The first thing he did in Saint Michel was to run down the dirt stairs. He ran too fast, tripped and fell own. “Mark, slow down! See, this is what happens when you go too fast. Go slower next time.”
Since my parents no longer have a car, going to the family house in Saint Michel, a quiet beach town on the Atlantic Coast, is more difficult than before. It used to be a 45-minute drive—it’s now a two-hour long ride on the Lilas Bus that links Nantes to many small towns on the coast.
Most French people take holidays between July 14 (Bastille Day) and August 15. Cities empty…
In Ottawa or in Nantes, keeping Mark busy is always a challenge. The upside of Nantes is that I know the city very well and I remember the places I used to love as a kid. I don’t have to go for a twenty-minute drive to find some urban fun—the city isn’t as spread out as Ottawa.
These days, most people work in the tertiary sector, but this trend is still fairly new. Just a few decades ago, people worked in the industrial sector. They were manufacturing finished, tangible goods instead of selling services or creating needs.
Nothing works properly on Sunday. And if it rains, as it often does in Nantes, the empty streets can be downright depressing.
Nantes’ most common nickname is the Venice of the West, a name owing to its position on the river delta of the Loire, the Erdre, and the Sèvre. Except around the Isle of Nantes and the Quai de la Fosse, the banks of the River are still wild and quiet—it feels like being on another planet.
Huang Yong Ping, a Chinese Avant-garde artist, currently has works on display at the HAB Gallery on the Isle of Nantes. And for some reason, his art spoke to me.
In a way, Trentemoult reminds me a bit of the colourful barrio of La Boca in Buenos Aires, although much smaller. It definitely has a “bobo” (bourgeois bohême) feel.
Nantes has several famous and fancy pâtissiers, such as Debotté or Carli. Their shops are fascinating, with elaborated colourful pastries on display. Frankly, I think sticking a spoon into these art pieces is a crime.
There are many churches in Nantes and Mark’s goal is apparently to visit them all. He sees the church towers from afar and doesn’t stop whining until we actually step in.
It was a rainy morning and Mark had woken up way too early. He was cranky and so were we. The rest of the city was enjoying a quiet Sunday morning with croissants and café au lait and here I was, trying to get Mark to keep his socks on (this month’s new phobia is apparently socks) and brush Petit Écolier crumbs off my last clean pair of jeans.
Coming from Canada, I find French people fascinating—even though I (used to) be one of them.
Last summer, we used to sit on the grass and let Mark crawl around us. This year, we need to watch out: he tries to chase the ducks and I’m always afraid he is going to fall into the moat!
Yeah, yeah, I know, France is out. I hope I didn’t jinx Les Bleus… for once, I was actually out taking pictures of the crowd watching the France-Germany game on a big screen!
I didn’t want to rush to the Isle of Nantes because I know we will…
People in Nantes are used to seeing cryptic signs all over the city, such as “BZH = 44” or Gwenn ha Du.
I hadn’t had the chance to teach Mark how to hold a pencil or draw shapes—I figured my dad will. So we took him to my dad’s atelier. He set up a canvas for him and we gave him charcoal.