It was quiet in Nantes in July. I was expecting many tourists, French and European, for the yearly summer art festival, but it seems less popular and less impressive than usual. I was expecting some lingering World Cup fever just a few days after France won its second title, but except for a few drunks singing “on est en finale” (“we made it to the final”) the other day in a bar, the event was definitely over. I was expecting the seaside packed with the heat wave but Saint-Michel, Tharon and Pornic were fairly quiet.
According to Nantes’ newspaper I never buy but read at my grandmother’s place, small business associations blame a quieter-than-usual month of July on the many low-cost flights from Nantes to Croatia and Spain. Apparently, locals spend their money abroad these days.
The juilletistes (neologism for people taking their holidays in July, “juillet” in French) are going back to work. Now it’s the aoûtiens’ turn (you guess it, people taking their holidays in August, “août”) to take time off.
But even if I found Nantes quieter than usual, the city is never that dead, esepcially compared to Ottawa.
I feel alive here.
Ottawa is too empty. We’re too sheltered in our big North American dream homes. It’s like we make a point of avoiding contact with other humans. No public transit, everybody drives places. No workplaces, everybody tries to work remotely. No restaurants, people order from their app and have food delivered. No visiting stores when out shopping, everything you need can be ordered online.
I get it, living around people is inconvenient. People are messy, loud, occasionally rude or selfish. People want what you want, fill your favourite shops, restaurants, movie theatres and supermarkets, steal your seat in the bus and party when you’re trying to get work done.
People are inconvenient.
But I love living around people because no matter what, people are interesting, fun, unpredictable and touching.
I hate empty spaces.