Cultural Snapshot: 5 Things Found in Nantes

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You can find all the pic­ture in the France 2015 set.

The Cosmetics and Perfume Industry is Garbage

The Cosmetics and Perfume Industry is Garbage

I took this picture of a perfume ad by the train station, I found the juxtaposition with the garbage can funny considering the luxury brand image such products usually want to convey. The French cosmetic industry plays an important role, both nationally and internationally and French are both consumers and exporters of such goods. Cosmetics and fragrances are a bit cheaper here than in North America, but big brands remain expensive. However, there are hundreds of cheaper less famous brands for the domestic market that are as effective… well, as “effective” as they can be!

Board games in a vending machine at the train station

Board games in a vending machine at the train station

The French aren’t that big on vending machines—or conveniences in general. They buy their drinks in bars or at the supermarket; cigarettes, magazines and newspapers at the bureau de tabac; snacks at the bakery… there isn’t even a chain of convenience stores like 7/11, although in bigger cities, smaller épiceries often stay  open past 8 p.m. and sell basic stuff. There are a few vending machines in universities or train stations, mostly selling candy bars, bottled drinks or coffee but they don’t seem that popular. This one is pretty unique: I found it at the train station, and it sells board games for trips. Such a great idea to keep everyone busy in the TGV!

European-size coffee

European-size coffee

No more giant Starbucks cups! In France, if you order coffee, you get a small cup of espresso with a pack of sugar and a piece of chocolate. I paid €1.40 for this one, it seems to be the market price these days. I do miss sipping from a giant cup for an hour though, there is no way I can make this one last more than ten minutes.

French junk food

French junk food

When people think of French food, they often picture fancy dish, elaborate cuisine and gourmet ingredients. Oysters, fois gras, filet mignon, pastries or fine wines are available, but I think it’s fair to say that French also eat a lot of junk food. The equivalent to North American fast food chains in terms of popularity would probably be these “kebab restaurants” , independent businesses usually managed by second-generation Turkish or Algerian immigrants. They primarily sell the traditional Middle Eastern kebab dish—lamb meat cooked on a skewer and served with pita bread and spicy sauce—but also all kinds of burgers, paninis and giant sandwiches with french fries that are as fatty as any US-style fast food.

Modern art on the Isle of Nantes

Modern art on the Isle of Nantes

I wanted to check out Hab 20, one of the art galleries on the Isle of Nantes, because last year I enjoyed the work of Huang Yong Pin. This year’s exhibition features the work of Taturo Atzu. I didn’t like it as much, although the street sign going through a car’s windshield was kind of fun to look at. Mark was with us when we visited the exhibition and I didn’t feel like queuing with him to see one of the rooms everybody was lining up for. “For all I know, people here are queuing for the bathroom!” I joked with my mum. A few minutes later, the lineup was shorter so I decided to take a peek anyway. Guess what—it was a bathroom, well, sorry, an “art installation” consisting of a toilet and a sink. I couldn’t stop laughing but Mark was very happy to find the toilets!

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About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.

8 Comments

  1. Yikes – I am fully prepared to be lynched but I don’t get installments like those toilet type of things! I do like the car though – not every day we see things like that, sort of brings out the inner voyeur and makes you explore how awkward a feeling that is I imagine.

  2. That cup is really small, but then we get Espresso in tiny cups here as well. I once ordered an espresso and the poor barista confirmed thrice with me;

    “It’s very small sir”

    “It’s really small sir”

    “Sure sir”

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