After discovering a bit of Nantes, in the few days I spent there before arriving in my new home city of Saint-Nazaire. I took the train there which took about 45 minutes. It was strange to get on a train and have no idea what my destination would be like. All I knew was that it would be my new home for the next 8 months. I was anxious and excited. I had researched a bit about Saint-Nazaire and wasn’t sure if it would be what I was expecting when I decided to move to France. On the one hand, I was happy because it was on the ocean. On the other hand, it was completely bombed in WWII, and was completely rebuilt after the war in a “minimal, functional” style. This could be interesting, or just bland. I am interested in modern architecture, and the city does have a very interesting history, but I was hoping to live in a place with the warmths and characteristic feel of traditional France. I was hoping to be able to live with buildings older than what I was used to in Canada. So I had mixed feelings about whether I would like the town.
I arrived and soon saw that it is a very industrial place, mostly filled with families, kids, teenagers and senior citizens. Young adults my age tend to leave for Nantes or Paris to attend university. Buildings are made of white concrete except for a few original houses made with stone by the water and scattered within the city.
There is a long boardwalk across the sea which people cycle and walk their dogs on when the weather is nice. The first night we decided to look for a cafe or bar along the water, but we realized quickly that most things here shut down around 7pm. The city tends to be very quiet and dark after that. But the calmness can be refreshing, and the city is small enough to get a grasp on easily and to find your way around. There is a train station so it’s accessible, and it’s close to the bigger more cultural city of Nantes. There is an art exhibition space called La Grand Cafe, and there is a theatre, cinema and huge music venue called Le VIP made from a huge concrete submarine base left over from WWII. There are interesting boxy fishing contractions that line the water front and look interesting and creative. People are friendly here and don’t speak English. The good thing about this is that it will allow me to be immersed in French with no opportunity to revert to English.
The sunsets are also beautiful. Here’s one from the window outside my new apartment.