Reading the conference paper of António Azevedo (Azevedo 2009) I realise from his methods 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 is (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 1915, 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.
French Lesson Replying to the question from the end of the previous French lesson, may I photograph the book, please? She replies: ‘No, but you may borrow it. You could return it to me in Nantes.’ Non, mais vous pouvez l’emprunter. Vous pourriez me le redonner à Nantes. – The verb, Redonner makes it clear that she expects me to hand the book back to her in person. See how similar it looks to the verb, donner, to give? But the real stars of these two sentences are the object pronouns, it, to me and it. In French they come before the verb; can you spot them? The first one’s tricky, just an l’ apostrophe. It = the book mentioned in the previous lesson. Then the two stacked up before the verb redonner – me = to me, and le, again = it (the book).
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.
Freire, J. (2009) ‘Local People a critical dimension for place brands’ Journal of Brand Management 16, 420-438. doi: 10.1057/palgrave.bm.2550097