It’s another world over there. It’s rural, in the middle of the wine country.
Browsing: Snapshots of France
The concept of tides can be very disturbing for a kid. No, a giant wave won’t come when the tide is low; yes, your sand castle will be destroyed when the tide creeps up.
“Just so you know: the fireworks may be cancelled at the last minute, it will rain at one point, and there is no way we will be done eating diner before. Scratch that—we probably won’t even have started eating.”
As a kid, I found sharks fascinating—especially considering I was spending my summer months at the beach and that there were always reruns on Jaws (Les dents de la mer—“Sea’s Teeth” in French) on TV.
When I’m sick and tired of this polished side, I escape where no one goes anymore, along the Loire River, where the factories and industries supported the city’s growth for a long long time.
We are in Nantes’ city centre and it’s summer, so people shop, eat, drink, visit places and hang out outside. The city is alive, almost too alive at nights when drunks take over the city and “sing” in the middle of the street.
The ship hasn’t changed but Mark did—last time, he was barely crawling, this time, he explored it by himself and marveled at the Loire River flowing fast below.
Like last year, Mark wants to visit every single church we pass. And there are at least six or seven churches within walking distance of my parents’ place, in the city centre.
The holidays serve as an all-purpose excuse. Spending too much money? Bof, c’est la vacances! Drinking too much? Les vacances! Eating out? Mais oui, c’est la vacances! Whatever happens, on verra en septembre.
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.
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.
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.