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Matin Nantais

“Watch People Come and Go”

Forcing myself to wake up before sunrise, although gradually later and later as winter draws in, was always going to be a difficult task.

7:30, about one hour before sunrise and Nantes is cold, dark and wet. I leave my flat to meet my friend Fiona who had gladly offered to join me on this early morning wandering.

The street outside was still quite dark, except for the warm lights of the bakery opposite, and there was not much noise other than the humming of a street sweeper passing in and out of earshot.

We stop at the bakery first. They had probably been up and running for a few hours already, yet we are greeted with a cheery Bonjourrr nonetheless. If there is anything worth getting up this early for, it is the fresh bread and pastries. The pain au chocolat is still warm. Fresh, flakey and still warm!

From there we wander around the streets to see who’s about. Street cleaners, bin men and delivery vans are all busy setting up the city for the day ahead. The cafés are not quite open yet, but the tables and chairs are being carried out onto the terrasses. Even when it’s cold and wet people sit outside, it must be because everyone here smokes.

We arrive at Place Royale. The city at this time is very blue. The buildings, the pavements, the sky, everything is tinged with blue except for the odd yellow street lamp and their reflections on the wet ground.

Continuing our stroll, we end up at Commerce, the main thoroughfare of the city centre where most tram and bus lines convene. Although the rest of the city is still quite sleepy under the early morning darkness, Commerce is just as busy as ever. Floods of commuters spill out from trams on line 1 and rush to pile onto line 3 or whatever other connecting bus or tramline they need to take them to work or school. This isn’t an early morning for them, with work or class often starting at 8am, this is just morning as usual.

The blue starts to disappear and the sky gets lighter as the morning begins to resemble a time of day I’m more familiar with. Instead of simply observing this morning rush from the sidelines, we now have to partake in it. We take the line 2 tram to Facultés for our 9am start.

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