We all have pick-up lines — mine was that I grew up nearby a castle. You know, so that North Americans could fantasize about my “oh-so-French” background. Nah, just kidding. It’s just that Nantes happens to have a castle in the center and since the city is fairly compact, well, downtown is very residential so about 50,000 of us “grew up by a castle”.
Browsing: Snapshots of France
Contrary to popular belief, French generally don’t just demonstrate for the sake of it. However, if protests have a main focus point, they also embrace a few broader issues or concerns. Case in point, this demonstration was initiated by civil servants’ unions because the government is trying to push for a pension reform to raise the retirement age to 62.
In case you didn’t know it, France is out. Dehors, rien à voir. The country which won the World Cup in 1998 was eliminated very early in this year’s World Cup.
French don’t seem surprised nor particularly angry but rather generally accepting. It doesn’t mean they aren’t complaining though. The loss of the French team, “les bleus” is seen as another symptom of how bad France is doing these days, both politically and economically.
“Justice palace”, this is how French call courthouses. The junior high/ high school I attended for 6 years from age 12 to 18 was located in the center of Nantes, stuck between the main courthouse, the police station and the jail where suspects were held by the police before their trial. The Banque de France was in a nearby street and the back of the building was facing our schoolyard.
It may only be 6:23 (!) to go from Montréal to Paris, but the total trip was closer to 24 hours.
We left Ottawa Saturday afternoon and took the Greyhound to Montréal. The bus was almost empty and we were at the airport around 7 pm. A quick lunch/dinner later, we started queuing for check-in, which took over 1:30. Another line-up for security and we boarded the plane just before midnight.
Walls are talking in France! Here is the second part of my French graffitis.
There are “pâtisseries” and “boulangeries” everywhere, the first ones specializing in cakes and elaborate pastries, the second ones offering many kinds of bread and basic bakery products.
“C’est la crise, madame!”, you can hear everywhere when visiting France.
Nantes was pretty lucky during World War II: unlike a lot of French cities, it wasn’t totally destroyed by bombings.
Class struggle is still omnipresent in France. Because politics is a national pastime, people like to describe themselves as “à droite” (right-wing), “à gauche” (left-wing), “soixante-huitard” (a person who either participated in the May 1968 Movement or has Utopian ideas) etc.
If you follow the Loire river from downtown, you will find a bridge that crosses to the “isle of Nantes”, a former shipyard turned into a leisure and cultural site.
Paris, the Champs-Élysées, on a chilly afternoon, about a month ago. We were walking down the broad avenue when we suddenly found ourself drifting to avenue Montaigne.
This is the second part of my “graffiti study”. Like in the first post, all the pictures were taken in France last month. Let’s have a look… you’ll find the commentary and translation below.
Lately, I became interested in graffiti found on cities walls. Not the illegible signatures but rather the drawings, the short sentences, sometimes political, sometimes poetic, sometimes naive and sometimes so true. So here a few pictures I took in France last month. You will find their meaning below the mosaic.
Traveling from the East to the West meant following the sun… and not sleeping much because we shared the plane with two minor league soccer teams on their way to Toronto (one day, I’ll tell you about in-flight food fights… I’m still too traumatized to speak!). I was seated by the window and snapped a few pictures along the way.
Wednesday was our last day in Paris… and we decided to take a walk along the Seine. Paris is famous for its many bridges and the shore of the — pretty dirty — river are quite nice. We even took the boat from St Germain, to the Louvre, the Champs-Élysés and the Eiffel Tower for more sightseeing.
Mysterious Carnac, on the coast, and Vannes… our last stops.
After St Malo, Rennes, the official capital of Brittany. Rennes has always competed with Nantes: both city have good universities, both are lively and relatively cheap and both are buzzing cities. But Rennes has a stronger “Bretagne” (Brittany) feeling, proud and alive.
Earlier this week, we decided to take a trip to Saint Malo, in the heart of Brittany. This relatively small city has a particularity: a seaward fortress since the Middle Ages, St Malo still has a 1.8 km wall circling the city. Designed by Vauban, Louis XIV’s military engineer, the wall offers a great view of the city and the harbor.