Saturday, November 2, 2013

Quai des Bulles

A few France resources I want to share:
Blablacar - how Nico and I found our rides between Paris and Saint Malo last week.  WAY cheaper than the train, and your driver might even introduce you to a new band you instantly fall in love with.
Easy Jet - the cheapest flights in Europe, although certainly not the most comfortable.  I was very annoyed that my purse counted as a second carry-on item and I had to prove that I could stuff it into my duffel bag to board the plane.  They also have a nice app for iPhone
Dernier Bar avant la Fin du Monde - this is the only place in France so far that's felt nerdy to me, and I loved it.  A must-visit for any and all nerds in Paris.

I took a trip at the end of October to my first ever French comics festival - Quai des Bulles in Saint Malo!  It was an incredible trip.  I was floored by the level of talent I saw at the festival, and delighted by features I've never seen at a show before, like in-festival childcare.  Old, young, and families alike.  A much more serious, grown-up attitude than you feel at comics conventions in the US.  No cat ears or cardboard swords in sight, and only one vendor with toys--the show was mostly a long tent full of comic books and artists signing those comic books.
I stayed with a bunch of artists and there was tons of drawing time together around the dinner table and on our place-mats at restaurants. :) So fun.  I was really hurting for some drawing-with-other-people time like that!
The festival was right on the ocean (as in, the smoking doors opened onto the pier).  It was a 10-minute walk onto the beach and up to a historic castle in the ocean.  Saint Malo itself was so, so pretty.  The trip really felt more like a vacation than any show I've done in the past.  I love that you can take open drinks onto the street in France; it made it possible for the Saturday night crowd to mingle on the street in front of the main bars.  And we only spent a couple of hours each day in the festival; for the most part we were relaxing in restaurants or sipping drinks on cafe terraces.
I visited my friend Chelsea in Geneva before my flight, spent a few days in Paris before and after the festival, and stayed in Geneva again on the way back.  It was essentially 5 cities in 7 days, but somehow it didn't feel like too much.  I'm getting used to traveling light and feeling at home in temporary lodgings.  I'm also getting better about asking for help when I travel (out of necessity...but still).  I can't be shy when I really don't have a place to stay between my flight one day and my train the next. :-/ Chelsea helped me get to the airport in Geneva, Boulet put me up in Paris, Nico secured me a pro badge, carpooled with me from Paris to Saint Malo, and found our lodging in Saint Malo, and Pierre bought my train ticket when my credit card wouldn't work in Geneva.  I really wouldn't get by here without friends; I'm overwhelmingly grateful to know such generous people.  And it's so much more fun traveling with friends than trying to do it alone!  An overnight and dinner with friends beats a lonely hotel room and restaurant!  In the past, I've avoided troubling others at any cost, but it turns out that sometimes they really are happy to help, and it's fun for both parties.  This is a new concept for me; I'm trying to process it. ;-)

I know one thing for certain: I want my next place to have a guest room so I can pay all this forward!

I keep stopping and thinking to myself how happy I am to be here, doing this.  It's hard sometimes...people think I'm a humorless idiot because I don't speak their language well.  Cooking and driving are so different that I am basically back at square one with them both.  I try hard but I make a lot of mistakes at my job.  I get homesick and really lonely.  I don't have my old comforts to ease the bad days.  But being here has already been so rewarding...I think I'm learning new skills and things about myself I wouldn't have if I had stayed home this year.  Even the things I thought I knew--I'm seeing them from another perspective and deepening my understanding.  I've had to face fears and realities I was able to run away from at home.  I've discovered beautiful things and wonderful people I didn't know existed.  I believe my life will be better going forward from here, having had these experiences.  And if I get hit by a crazy French country driver tomorrow and bleed out in a ravine next to a field of cow pies, I'll still be really glad that I came here.  This is the most alive I've felt in a long time.

1 comment:

  1. Having gone through something similar I can tell you that probably no one thinks youre a humorless idiot for not speaking their language well. I felt the exact same way and it can be pretty frustrating, but I think most people know how hard it is to master a second language. And now that I'm going through the same thing again (with a different language) its a bit easier just because I know that sitting there and being frustrated and feeling like a humorless idiot is the only way to get to the other side and feeling like yourself again. It just takes time!

    St Malo sounds like such an amazing festival. And I'm glad you got to know Boulet and Domitille, two of my favorite frenches!