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Crazy Spinning Things and Cotton Candy Make People Happy

A travelling fair has been entertaining Nantes for as far as I can remember. I can’t find the exact date online but take my word for it, it’s been around for at least forty years, probably much longer.

Every year, in March, big trucks, giant spinning things and RVs park on Cour Saint-Pierre, right behind the cathedral. It takes weeks to assemble everything—we used to check on the progress daily when I was a kid. It stays until late April, then it comes back in September for another month.

Unlike in North America, there’s no entrance fee and no security. It’s the pay-per-ride model, so anyone can just wander around and soak up the atmosphere for free—few people leave without buying at least a cotton candy cone, though. Most rides are around five euros these days, half-price on Wednesday, so it’s still an affordable entertainment option for families.

And because the fair is open to everyone and closes late at night, it attracts people from all walks of life and all backgrounds. This is what makes the fair fun for me. It’s a fascinating place where you can see Muslim families celebrating the Eid al-Fitr, posh kids kicking ass at shooting games because they probably spend their weekends hunting with daddy, tweens hesitating between traditional kid rides and more extreme options, protesters enjoying the sweet smell of waffles and cotton candies after getting tear-gassed just two blocks away and more.

From a sociological perspective, the fair is a fascinating place.

And it’s a happy place because everybody just wants to have fun and it’s too loud to be arguing, anyway.

I went there alone two weeks ago then I came back twice with my brother last weekend, late at night. No ride for me, I get enough excitement going to every single protest in Nantes… but I have cool pictures!

Foire de Nantes, april 2023
Foire de Nantes, april 2023
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Foire de Nantes, april 2023
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Foire de Nantes, april 2023
Foire de Nantes, april 2023
Foire de Nantes, april 2023
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Zhu

French woman in English Canada.

Exploring the world with my camera since 1999, translating sentences for a living, writing stories that may or may not get attention.

Firm believer that nobody is normal... and it’s better this way.

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