It feels good to be in France. It feels good to be travelling.
I have never been one of these expats who misses “home” much—I adopted Canada and it adopted me. I don’t crave French food, long for French media or buy French products. Besides, it has only been four months since our last visit.
But this last-minute trip is a breath of fresh air.
Or warm air, really. Yes, this is the first thing I noticed out of the plane: the weather is so warm here compared to Canada! I stepped out with my Canadian jacket and immediately felt way overdressed for the weather. Remember, it was -30C when we left Ottawa, and it’s about 5C in France—a huge difference. Sure, mornings are a bit chilly but not unbearably cold. And no snow or ice! I know a lot of people dream of a “white Christmas” but navigating slushy and snowy sidewalks get tiring after a while.
I had a good laugh at Roissy too, when I saw a sign on the airport doors that said “The main doors are currently closed due to extreme cold weather”. Oh, really? Let’s review the definition of extreme cold together…!
I am also enjoying the busy urban environment in France. I spent summer and most of fall outside with Mark—Canadians are outdoor people and we all make the most of the nice weather while it lasts. But since the time change, it’s dark very early and, of course, it is cold now. That doesn’t leave us with many options—basically staying home or heading to the mall. Everything is far apart in Canada, you can’t just “go downtown” or ”take a walk around the block”. Either you drive somewhere or you walk, but be prepared for a long walk.
In Nantes, my parents live in the city core and I can easily go from one store to another. People are out and about, in cafés, restaurants, shops, etc. Canadians tend to stay home when the weather is bad and the city feels dead after dark.
Reconnecting with art is also pretty fun. Yes, there is a Canadian art scene and we have great museums in Ottawa. But when it comes to art… sorry, Europe is the cradle of art. Nantes embarked on an artsy project a while ago and there is fun street art everywhere, from quirky sculptures to wall painting, from beautiful paintings for art lovers to architectural projects. Art is part of daily life—it is just about everywhere.
The elephant at the Isle of Nantes is still here even though the place is much quieter than last summer. It has a different feel—I like it actually. We went to check out the graffiti wall on the island of Nantes and the old shipyard. It had rained the night before and there were some beautiful reflections on the water.
We are slowly adapting to la vie française. I got my hair cut and so did Mark, and we went to many trips to Monoprix for French food.
Next… Christmas preparations!