In my preparation for the travel writing research work in Nantes I am by this stage, allowing myself to read, talk about, and watch anything and everything on the city. My most recent discovery, after viewing Agnès Varda’s 1991 film on director Jacques Demy, called Jacquot de Nantes, is that Demy directed his first New-Wave feature using Nantes as the setting. The film, Lola, was released in 1961 and is an urban story of everyday life restored to gorgeous glossy black and white by Varda herself. I wish I could show you some stills from the film; I asked UniFrance, for an image but to no avail. I still hope you are inspired to see the film.
At least two scenes unfold in the covered arcade called the Passage Pommeraye; they are key moments in the drama, too. And, my favourite shot is on the steps of what must be the Graslin Theatre, which fills the whole screen with geology and architecture with our two protagonists in the foreground. Is Marc Michel, who plays Roland Cassard, holding up an iPad? In Nantes in the 1960s?
Talking to Graham, he suggested I read C S Forester’s Hornblower novel set on the Loire during the Napoleonic Wars, Flying Colours (1938). Apparently, the story ends in Nantes; I’ve ordered my copy so let’s see!
C S Forester’s Hornblower novel set during the Napoleonic Wars, Flying Colours (1938) does indeed use the River Loire as an important element throughout the novel. I hardly dare say too much about the role of the river since the story relies for its excitement on its plot and I am firmly against story spoilers in reviews and criticism. Nantes also figures in the narrative and it may offer one spot for literary visitors to the city. Overall, though, despite the adventure story style, Forester’s detailed observation of the river in its course does leave the imagination with a vivid sense of the differences and the power of the waters. In fact, his writing has some of the same effect that I felt when finally arriving on the banks of the Loire.