Nantes, aka the fifth-largest city in France and also aka where my dear friend Erica is passing her semester* abroad, is quite lovely. I would say it was lovely despite the fact that I had to get up so early that I saw the sun rise on my two-hour TGV ride, but I actually like doing that.
In other words, the whole day was great.
There were oodles of Christmas-themed things. According to Erica, Nantes is super-duper Catholic (laïcité be damned) and so they kind of go all out.
Her host family invited me over for lunch, and proceeding to be the nicest people ever. It was a great moment of feeling competent enough in French to enjoy getting to know people (and of tactfully sidestepping any uncomfortable political discussion when I admitted to liking Pres. Obama’s intelligence. It’s pretty indisputable that he’s smart, no?) I had fleeting moments of jealousy, because in my experience when living with a host family is good, it tends to be great, and these were definitely folks of the latter school. They fed us a 4-course meal with things I don’t usually consider delicious (fish) and things that are universally known to be tasty (cheese, chocolate éclairs).
But it was really wonderful just to get to see one of my oldest friends again. When her host mom asked us how long we’d known each other, we couldn’t even remember. And now we’re both in France. How about that?
Unfortunately, I could only stay in town for like, 8 hours, due to the train schedule and the dissertation that still awaits completion (I’ve made great progress! I swear!), so we spent a bit more time walking before heading to La Cigale, the most beautiful ornate restaurant in all of Nantes, for coffee. And since the Gods of Karma had granted me such a wonderful day, it was fitting that my train had a one-hour delay going home. Grande vitesse, mon cul.
Not that I’m complaining. Quite the opposite.
*She gets way more bonus points for the length of her stay. Three and a half months?! Incredible. I would die. I just would.