August 15 (Assumption of Mary into Heaven) is a statutory holiday in France and in Nantes, over the long weekend, there were a lot of people wandering aimlessly, looking for entertainment. Traditionally, the last summer holiday is best spent at the beach, with friends and relatives. However, the weather was chilly, windy and rainy and those who weren’t already shivering in a tent chose to stay in town.
Nantes is usually empty on August 15, or so I’ve been told because except for this year, we are at the seaside like everyone else.
“It’s probably worst on the Atlantic coast,” people were saying, eyeing the stormy sky.
“Oh, definitely. Where do you want to go?”
“I don’t know, where do you want to go?”
Most stores are closed on August 15 or even for the entire week, i.e. until the unofficial end of summer holidays on August 19. Even the “Voyage à Nantes” street art festival wasn’t enough to keep tourists busy. The Château des Ducs de Bretagne was mobbed and so was the Jardin des Plantes, two free attractions good enough for a chilly day.
“Do I need a raincoat or not?”
“I… I have no idea. When it’s sunny, it’s hot. But when it’s windy, it’s cold. And it could start pouring any minute.”
My mom, Mark and I decided to walk along the Quai de la Fosse and take the shuttle boat to Trentemoult, a quaint former fishing village turned into hipster paradise when real estate prices boomed around Nantes. It’s usually an easy and picturesque trip—a ten-minute boat ride for the price of a bus ticket, then a long walk by the Loire River before taking any of the many bridges to go back to the city centre.
The secret is out and the boat trip is becoming more and more popular. A few years ago, it was just a way for local residents who don’t own a car to cross the river quickly. Last it, I noticed the boat was almost always full, mostly with tourists. This year, we had to queue for twenty minutes to get on. “I bet eventually we will have to book the trip online,” I joked.
Meanwhile, the sky was getting darker and darker. By the time the boat finally arrived on the other side of the Loire River after a windy and bumpy ride, the sky was pitch dark and cloud patterns seemed to say “find shelter, idiot!”
I checked my phone.
“Huh. Only a 9% chance of rain.”
Other tourists chose to trust their instinct rather than the Weather Network app so we were alone in the picturesque streets of Trentemoult. It was a relaxing walk—and it didn’t rain!
We weren’t so lucky on Saturday—it poured all day. Both my mom and I hate shopping malls but considering the weather and the fact we both had to run errands, we decided to take the tramway all the way to Atlantis, a giant shopping mall in Saint-Herblain, on the West End. Worst idea either—Saturday plus rainy day plus long weekend equals large, noisy crowds and a freaky shopping experience for anyone who isn’t that much into shopping in the first place.
Now if the sun and seasonable weather could come back for a few days…