It was complete baby chaos when Mark and I arrived in Nantes after three days in Paris—my sister was already here with her one-month-old newborn, and it looked like neither she nor my mom had slept through the night recently.
My mom opened the door, Mark’s first—and maybe only—cousin crying in living room, my sister wolfing down lunch at 3 p.m. Been there, done that…
“Ah, I see,” Mark assessed very seriously. “He isn’t over the crying stage yet. Cute, though.”
This is how our French summer in Nantes started.
I knew my sister would be coming too but her dates kept changing. And obviously, I didn’t know I was going to be able to travel to Canada, pick up Mark and come back to France with him for the summer. We had agreed that ideally the two cousins would meet and we would see each other, but only for a day or two because three adults, a kid, a newborn and a cat aren’t supposed to share a 60 sq. m (650 sq. ft) apartment.
We ended up spending a week all together under the same roof—flexibility was the key and so was giving each other space since we were on completely different schedules.
The weather was also suddenly surprisingly hot for a pretty chilly summer, so Mark and I took day trips to the beach, leaving in the morning by train and coming back in the evening.
Our first beach day was at La Baule, one of the longest beaches in Europe. We didn’t go to La Baule when I was a kid, it was “the posh beach”. We hung out in Saint-Michel, Saint-Nazaire, Saint-Brévin, anywhere but La Baule. In fact, you can tell who is going to “La Baule” by the way they pronounce it—outsiders say “Baule” as in “ball” while bourgeois pronounce it as “bawl.”
And now I was curious to see if the century-old seaside resort had changed or if it was still posh.
Well, it didn’t change.
Funny enough, La Baule isn’t that special. I mean, we’re not talking Ipanema here, it’s just a nine-kilometre-long stretch of sand with learn-to-sail programs and camps every few metres and a surprisingly boring waterfront—it’s not particularly lively, just old condos and villas.
It’s one of these places where you can’t sit anywhere—benches, are you crazy? Homeless people could use them! It’s also one of these places where there are signs everywhere—swimwear banned in the street, shirtless customers not welcome, don’t sit here, don’t do this, don’t do that. I mean, I get the message but La Baule is a beach town, relax for fuck’s sake.
We still had a fun beach day, though.