Saturday, January 12, 2013

In Search of Lost Time: Nantes--Days 4 & 5, part 2

Not far from the second supermarket was the stadium for FCN, the Football Club de Nantes. I had booked my trip BEFORE checking their game schedule, but next time, I will be taking in a game. Nantes’ soccer team was not very good when I was here, but my whole trip I had been hearing about their recent exploits and how they’re probably the French team with the most championships ever. I didn’t see a game when I lived here, but I LOVE soccer and found out from Thibault—who is a born-and-raised nantais and a huge FCN fan—that their pro shop was out here by the stadium. So I walk over there and for the first time in my whole trip, they’re at lunch and I’m stuck waiting for an hour.
Cultural note: Like many places in Europe, the French take lunch very seriously. Many shops—banks, post offices, privately-owned businesses—used to close for at least an hour for lunch during the workday. Then they’d re-open at like 2 and finish out the day. This practice is still around, but not often; most businesses, especially if they’re a chain, will have someone there over lunch. So as much as I could complain about losing an hour of my time, it have me the opportunity to sit and think about everything I had experienced, and that was good, too.

They came back at 2 and I head into the shop. I grabbed a cap, scarf, and a few other knickknacks and headed back for center city. FCN’s colors are bright yellow and bright green, so I knew I’d be noticed. More on that later.

I went back to the hotel and realized that my time in Nantes was quickly slipping away. I had already bought tickets for the first train to Paris in the morning, so I decided to pack some more. 

My last stop in Nantes was the Léfèvre-Utile Company, started here in Nantes in the 1800s. Locally, the company is known as LU, and their logo can be readily found in your local supermarket. My favorite cookies on the planet, Le petit écolier (The Little Schoolboy), are made by LU: a block of chocolate on shortbread. Totally amazing cookies. I haven’t found one LU cookie that I’ve hated. If you haven’t tried them, I highly encourage it…just look for the LU on the package.

Anyway, the factory is long gone, but one of the towers still remains and has tons of pictures of the history of the company.  I took a look around and purchased some more knickknacks—this was my shopping day, after all—and had a drink at their bar. The building is now called Le lieu unique-its initials are LU, of course—and it’s a cool little place that at least honors the history of the company.

My last meal in Nantes was in the hotel, and I wasn’t disappointed. Afterward, I went up to my room and fell asleep that night watching “Miss France”, which is similar to Miss America. Each region of France was represented by a young lady in this pageant—I don’t think it was a scholarship competition—and unfortunately, I didn’t think Miss Pays-de-la-Loire (the region whose capital is Nantes) was going to have a chance, anyway. 

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