Following up-to-the-minute fashion and/or interior design has
always felt like a pain in the backside and a waste of time.
But every year, when the Pantone Color Institute announces
their Color of the Year, I sit up and take notice.
Why?? I'm not sure.
Maybe it goes back to the day my older brother
was gifted a box of 64 Crayola crayons.
I was green (as in Spring, Sea, Forest, & Sour Apple) with envy.
Color, depending on the depth & hue, can bring a dash of zip
or a measure of serenity to even the most ordinary circumstances.
Pretty colors lift your spirits and stimulate your senses; on the
other hand, soft tones offer a warm, relaxing dose of calm.
So why bring up my affection for color?
France, forever a bastion of passionate color and luminous intensity,
often reminds us of of the joy beautiful color brings to our emotional reality.
Last fall, when visiting Nantes, I crossed the Loire River
to a curious little sideshow on its left bank.
Trentemoult, just a 10-minute ferry* ride from Nantes' city center,
is a color wheel of fun, a town emblazoned with Crayola tints that
animate the streets from one end to the other.
*Take the Navibus from Gare Maritime in Nantes to Trentemoult for less than 2 euros.
feels like one in spite of its growth.
Though now part of the larger suburb of Rezé, it has more of an island feel
than a bedroom community blossoming from the big city across the river.
Colorful streets and houses make for a cheerful afternoon even on a cloudy day.
A few hours well spent, a visit is sure to perk you up.
Looking like a storybook village where Popeye and Olive Oyl might reside, Trentemoult's outlandish color palette and nautical vibe
are sure to win everyone over.
When you go, don't expect big museums or high falutin' monuments.
The town is, in a word, cute, an endearing stop for an afternoon's stroll.
It's a getaway, an escape that feels far (though it's not) from city sounds.
"Let's not travel to tick things off lists or collect half hearted semi-treasures to be placed in dusty drawers in empty rooms. Rather we'll travel to find grounds and rooftops and tiny hidden parks, where we'll sit and dismiss the passing time...."
Victoria Erickson, author/poet
Trentemoult feels like a school girl playing dress-up, decked out in
her mama's colorful garb, bejeweled and grinning from ear to ear.
Street art is prevalent, full of fun and mischief.
The unrestrained glory of these colorful streets share space with artist
studios, breezy bars and restaurants showcasing the local catch of the day.
A beer or two, an unhurried sense of satisfaction and a drop in blood pressure
are the gifts that make for fond memories in this riverside town.
I love a surprise and Trentemoult doesn't disappoint.
Due it is special micro-climate, you'll even spy a few palm trees here and there,
very unexpected in a part of France that is far from the Mediterranean.
The trees were brought in by sailors and high ranking naval personnel.
"Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it."
Norman Maclean, American Writer - "A River Runs Through It"
Local legend claims the enterprising -- and frugal -- sailors of the town would return home with a little extra paint originally intended for the hulls of their ships.
Today's residents are proud to keep the tradition alive.
It makes Trentemoult a destination, not just a nod to suburbia.
Much like the village atmosphere of Montmartre in Paris,
Trentemoult is poles apart from its big sister across the river.
"Every girl loves a sailor."
While you're dreaming of Nantes -- the-many-faces-of-nantes.html -- and
Trentemoult -- or for that matter any place in the extraordinary Loire Atlantique,
how about a little aptly named cocktail to get you in the mood.
Here's a recipe for Sailor's Sunset from the drink website PUNCH.
- 1 1/2 ounces dark rum (preferably Jamaican)
- 1/2 oz Campari
- 1/2 oz lime juice
- 1/2 oz grapefruit juice
- 1/2 oz simple syrup (1:1 sugar & water)
- 2 ounces ginger ale
- garnish: crystalized ginger slice
- Add rum, Campari, lime juice, grapefruit juice and simple syrup to a cocktail shaker.
- Add ice and shake until chilled.
- Strain over ice into a Collins glass.
- Top with ginger soda and garnish with a crystallized ginger slice
Sometimes all it takes is a little imagination, a stiff cocktail
and the passion to plan another adventure in France.
Anyway, that's how I do it.....
Cheers! How about a sailor's toast to go with your cocktail:
There are good ships,
there are wood ships,
and the ships that sail the seas.
But the best ships are the friendships,
and may they always be.