Mon 6th May.
A day in Nantes.
Emmanuel left early to go to work and after was meeting his girlfriend to go on holiday in Brittany. The two weeks school holiday I’d witnessed in the north had moved south. The regions take their turns to have their holidays and now was the turn of the Pays de la Loire region.
He kindly left me the keys and offered his flat to me for another night, I was amazed again and couldn’t refuse as my bike needed a mechanic and I wanted more time to see the city. All he asked is that I drop the key in the letterbox when I left the next day.
More about Emmanuel. He was a musician, but his main source of income was from a magazine that he started with two uni friends called Europa. He was the only original member of the three left and was planning his departure soon. He lived in Nantes for seven years.
I took my time in the morning to do a much needed clothes wash. I lapped up wi-fi, downloading podcasts and watching Bill Hicks’ genius on YouTube. Something else I’d missed.
At the bike shop, a component on the front break had given in, making it nearly useless. Not good for touring as the bike is so much heavier, it demands much more of the breaks. The front rack had been badly bent and needed reshaping and I had another cassette (the gears that live on the back wheel) I needed to switch, giving me easier gears for the hills I would encounter in the Pyrenees. I had it since London and it was annoying carrying it in the luggage.
The guy did all the work by 5pm and charged my €20 for the work and parts (he replaced the break pads). I was amazed at the value and insisted he keep the cassette for his promptness and not ripping me off.
I picked up some food shopping and beers for Emmanuel on the way back. I bumped into the Canadian artist on his bike. He was on the way to his studio, I asked if I could come along and have a look and he agreed.
It was literally a utopia for creatives, hidden away from the main streets, glass windows, a wide open space, plants and studios on the upstairs mezzanine.
I hadn’t been in Nantes 24hours and I already managed to tap into the creative pulse of the place. I couldn’t believe my timing.
He showed me the studios of the other people there, film-makers, event organisers, designers and artists. A meeting was taking place downstairs, so I decided not to hang around too long. He invited me to a private view that night and I headed back to the flat taking it all in.
Time was flying by, so I decided to go out for a cycle in the city around 8, timing it with the private view. By the time I got there, it had already finished and my one contact in the city was nowhere to be seen. I headed back, popped open a large bottle of Leffe Royale and got down early.