Loire Memoires

Dec 3, 2015 |

My post-doctoral research project on the towns of the Loire Valley has been running since 11th December 2014, so for about a year now (3.12.15).  I began an autoethnographic journal on that date followed in January 2015 by the launch of a Web 2.0 system for capturing people’s memories of the Loire.  Both French and English online documents are set up and open to capture; these are on the TKT Lab web-pages at


If you would like to contribute, or simply follow the research work, please take a look.  I will also post here on Travels in Search of, on eserve.org.uk my news and progress.  Here are two images from my initial fieldwork in Tours and Angers in April 2015, reported on in Zoe’s collection of research papers from the River Tourism Place Writing Conference held at Plymouth University in June 2015.  Field-notes are available here https://goo.gl/oV0WWO


La Loire beside the Pont Wilson at Tours


Standing close to the River Loire reveals it is a powerful torrent

Reading the conference paper of António Azevedo (Azevedo 2009) I realise from his methods design that I need to ask people who live in, say Nantes, why they love or hate their city.  This is technically, the first step in a Place Branding exercise.  Place Branding starts with an inquiry into what that city already is for its inhabitants.  I need to discover, ‘What is Nantes?’  Only, then can I begin to unpick the components of what has value.  But how do I determine what has value for a respondent to my research question? André Breton declares in his surrealist novel, Nadja (1928), that Nantes (quoted in Garrett 2010, 193) ‘perhaps, with Paris, the only town in France where I had the impression that something worthwhile could happen to me.’  Martin Garrett explains that André Breton was sent to Nantes in July 2015, to work as a medical auxiliary at 2 rue du Bocage (Garrett 2010, 193); that is almost exactly 100 years ago.

There are three key turns of phrase in Breton’s statement, ‘had the impression’, ‘something worthwhile’ and ‘could happen to me’. These positions need to be distilled into a question or prompt to locals, and possibly, later to visitors to Nantes.

 “Nantes : peut-être avec Paris la seule ville de France où j’ai l’impression que peut m’arriver quelque chose qui en vaut la peine, où certains regards brûlent pour eux-mêmes de trop de feux (je l’ai constaté encore l’année dernière, le temps de traverser Nantes en automobile et de voir cette femme, une ouvrière, je crois, qu’accompagnait un homme, et qui a levé les yeux : j’aurais dû m’arrêter), où pour moi la cadence de la vie n’est pas la même qu’ailleurs, où un esprit d’aventure au-delà de toutes les aventures habite encore certains êtres, Nantes, d’où peuvent encore me venir des amis, Nantes où j’ai aimé un parc : le parc de Procé.”         André Breton.


Azevedo, A. (2009) ‘Are you proud to live here? A residents oriented place marketing audit (attachment, self-esteem and identity)’ Minho University, Braga, Portugal.

Breton, A., (1928) Nadja, Paris, NRF.

Garrett, M. (2010) The Loire: A Cultural History, Oxford, OUP.

To Cite this post:

Mansfield, C (2015) ‘ Loire Memoires’ in Brunt, P., Busby, G., Mansfield, C., and Wheeller, B. (eds.) (2015) Travels in Search of, Plymouth, TKT [online] Available at eserve.org.uk [Accessed 03.12.15].

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3 Responses

  1. Le cœur de Nantes battra toujours pour moi avec les coups de timbre métalliques des vieux tramways jaunes virant devant l’aubette de la place du Commerce, dans le soleil du dimanche matin de mes sorties — jaunet et jeune, et râpeux comme le muscadet. – Julien Gracq

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