Chronology has lost its importance, so I’ll try posting based on feelings. And I had a lot of those when on Friday, a former Cité Berlioz comrade linked me to a video, one of many in a project called “We are Happy From…” featuring Pharrell Williams’ endlessly cheerful song “Happy” being sung and danced to by people from all corners of the world*. Of course, it would only be a matter of time before the artistic, goofy, good-humored citizens of Nantes would team up to create their own version mais vachement à la nantaise.
I found myself calling out all of the various locations where the video was shot – Rue Crébillon! L’île de Nantes! Le jardin japonais! La Cigale! Hôtel Dieu! Le château des ducs de Bretagne! And then inevitably, I started thinking about the last time that I strolled the happy streets of Nantes, in late April 2013, days after I locked my casier in the salle des profs for the last time and said goodbye to my nontronnais students. It had been just about two years since I’d last crossed into the Pays de la Loire, but as soon as I stepped onto the train platform I felt immediately à l’aize Breizh, and je me suis mise à crébillonner (petites nuances reconnues par les vrais Nantais, et par les Nantais aspirants). Back at last!
But for me, in Nantes I am always the happiest when I am with friends. Gracious hosts back when I was first learning how to navigate the tramway, Anne-Marie and André, just as graciously before, offered me a room in their beautiful apartment for a long weekend. I was touched by their invitation and frankly a bit shocked to find myself walking up the staircase to their front door, their beloved épagneul breton, Pou-pou, barking at me like a stranger. But once I crossed the threshold, I relaxed back into the habits formed there so effortlessly two years earlier – simple dinners featuring the best that Talensac has to offer; “Questions pour un champion” and tennis matches on television; casual squabbles about which bottle of wine should be uncorked next; bits of bread and jam at breakfast in a sunny kitchen; an ever faithful companion guarding her post. Days like these are the best that Nantes has to offer and it is no surprise that Nantes is such a happy place.
*It has become increasingly clear to me that a reunion in Périgueux is needed toot sweet, so we can start filming “Happy from Dordogne”!