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French Spring

A 2012 trip to my hometown, Nantes, in France.

A Day in Airports

The line-up to go through security was interesting. Most travelers were flying short and medium haul flights to either other parts of France or sunny destinations like Morocco, Tunisia or Turkey. And...

Graffiti and Political Stickers

I’m a big fan of political or creative graffiti and stickers, and every time I go to France, I enjoy taking pictures of the walls. The 2012 batch was pretty creative, probably because of the upcoming...

Funfair in Nantes

In Nantes, there are two several-week-long fun fairs a year: one in the spring, and one in the fall. When I was a kid, we waited for both fairs impatiently—going there would keep us busy for several...

Nantes’ Industrial Past

One of my favourite districts in Nantes is the one close to the Loire River, by the quai de la Fosse. The former dodgy neighborhood was home to the shipyards and, at the time, prostitutes and...

Ten Random Observations about France

Even though I haven’t lived in France in ten years and even though I’m registered as a “French abroad”, I still received a carte d’électeur at my parents’ address to vote for this year’s presidential...

Creative Use of English Language in France

In the 2004 novel “A Year in the Merde”, an Englishman is sent to Paris to set up a chain of tea rooms in France. At the beginning of the book, the British guy tries to explain his French team that...

The Weight Of History

Last week, Nantes inaugurated a brand new memorial to the abolition of slavery. The city doesn’t have a glorious past: Nantes was the slave trade capital of France, and that’s how it became the...

Fire in Nantes

I’ve been spoiled with photo-ops lately! A demonstration, the annual street market, the carnival (that I skipped)… and now a huge fire. Nantes is definitely the place to be in March-April! Yesterday...

Street Market in Nantes

Sales are an exciting topic in France for two main reasons: first, clothes aren’t cheap, second, sales and discounted prices are rare. In fact, the French government regulates sales and only allows...

The Île de Versailles

I took a long walk to the Île de Versailles, a small island on the River Erdre. The place is modeled after a Japanese garden, and dotted with patches of bamboo, rhododendrons and bonsai trees. It’s a...

The French And Their Bathrooms

I first noticed the many differences between North American bathrooms and French bathrooms a while ago, but I had somehow forgotten about it. It all came back to mind today, when I went for a drink...

The Presidential Race in France

Living in Canada means that I’m relatively sheltered from campaign craziness—I didn’t even know all the candidates who had qualified, ten of them in total. But of course, this week I got a crash...

Passage Pommeraye

Passage Pommeraye is one of the historic monuments I’m now rediscovering. The mini shopping mall is a passage between two streets, rue de la Fosse (the lower street) and rue de Santeuil (the higher...

Is The French Diet Still A Good Diet?

A decade ago, José Bové, the farmer syndicalist, was fighting against junk food (he famously sacked a McDonald’s franchise to make his point) and French would rather have some baguette with stinky...

City Under Siege

French love to rebel against the establishment, and spring is generally the start of “protest season”. That’s why I wasn’t surprised when I heard a demonstration was planned this Saturday. But while...

Ten Things I Had Forgotten About France

Everybody speaks French! In Ottawa, I rarely hear “Parisian French”, and if I do, I tend to turn around and glance at whoever talked. Well, I keep on doing that here: whenever I hear French, I turn...

Packing and Flying… Again

From Ottawa, I can easily bus to Trudeau Airport in Montreal or Pearson in Toronto and catch a direct flight to Paris. It’s a six- or seven-hour flight, and dozens of airlines serve this route every...