Tres Bon a F Bar

I never had the luxury of recovering from jetlag without leaving the confines of my room. That very first full night I was coaxed out to meet people. The friend she was staying with was a musician of some sort. She had met her in D.C. just before our NYC trip and met her entourage. Her friend traveled with a band and a dance troupe. So when the tour wound down the dance troupe came back to Nantes. Since meeting them in D.C. they were brought together through social networking. My friend showed me messages from the leader about meeting up for drinks at a local bar. I thought the invite was genuine and approached it with a "When In Rome..." attitude.

So hours later we met at the said bar which became a reoccuring meeting spot during our stay in Nantes. A simple place facing an epic church and adjacent to the chateau I'd passed last night. It was the perfect meeting place for drinks, cafes and bilingual conversation. The dancers knew the place quite well. There was also another girl in company which was unexpected yet reassuring. When we approached the table I had no expectations. I knew we were meeting dancers and that is all I knew. I had no idea they were break dancers or just regular human beings. The girl there was a non-English speaking non-dancer. After a few drinks we then moved about the streets where they would stop to talk with other people and have cigarettes. Finally, we sauntered off to a dinner spot for some traditional French cuisine. Again taking the "approach" we carefully tasted foie gras, oysters, beef tartare and wine. At a small yet round corner table it was hard to keep etiquette. I don't know about her but I was trying hard not to touch other peoples knees, put my elbows on the table or mess up the flatware placement. Meanwhile, they were eating things that dropped, requesting plates taken away to be returned and balling up napkins on the tabletop. It was clear that French dining had very little formality and the entire point of eating was to eat. Thankfully, the meal we had only amounted to 20 Euros each with six guests. The men also picked the wine and the sole French girl doled out all appetizers that were strange to us. So in essence we had several courses with full explanation in French and English in a much desired comfort zone. We left with a future invite including one for me to to stay at one of the dancers homes. 

That night was the first time we got the full extent of French weather. As we left the restaurant it began to rain. We both were dressed for day with a single umbrella to share. We also had long walks ahead of us so we chose to get to a point and take a cab. In standing waiting for the tram the rain hit us like daggers. It was the coldest and most evil rain I'd ever encountered. Both of us very well versed in hurricanes and tropical storms and this was entirely new to us. It was later explained that rain in France comes in three forms. The one we experienced that night where it comes from all angles fat and cold. Another where it simply downpours for at least four or more days. Then one where it feels as if a misting water bottle is being sprayed in your face. Thankfully, we never experienced anything but that fine mist henceforth. We also took the cab in French with two separate destinations. In my opinion we had gotten French 101 that night with socialization, dining, climate and transportation. We also became quite fond of the bar returning almost daily for cafe au lait and home-made financiers. The lady that ran the place grew very tired of seeing our American faces. We also met members of the troupe there twice more.

The second time for me to meet up with my dutiful host who refused to let me stay at my next hotel. We sat and had the cheese plate, calamari and frites with his girlfriend. Oddly the girlfriend also danced and left early for a rehearsal. Then my friend got this bright idea to leave early as well. So I proceeded to ride with him to the other side of Nantes. He treated me to a homemade meal and explained a lot about French living. He allowed me to stay in a room his mother slept in when visiting. He also gave me a rather large bottle of Evian and allowed me to just be sick. His girlfriend came home offering me lots of Kleenex and French lessons. Her and I spent most of the next days together. She made me soup one night. He showed me how to use their phone to make free calls. It had been weeks since I'd talked to anyone back home. I came and went as I wanted since I was given my own key and a tour of all the nearby tram stops with stores and such. My friend also visited me and we finally went down to the city mall. I would say in a matter of weeks I was fully acclimated to both sides of the city. I was comfortable with playing the "little game" of not paying my tram fare and hitting the bakeries up nice and early. His flat was the best hotel I stayed out my entire time in Nantes. 

She and I continued to go to F bar. If out and the weather took a turn we went there to wait things out. If we had dinner plans and the spot was closed until a time the bar became the waiting place. One day we went for cafes and were kicked out due to some private party. I think the owner got a real kick out of not so politely asking us to leave. One day just to spite her we took her fancy demitasse spoons to a mousse cake we bought next door. She loved to ignore us so we would be waiting forever for the check. Soon we knew how much two cafes cost and left stacks of 2 Euro coins on the table as we left. Third time a charm we all met at the F bar again. We started with the Long Island ice teas, Japonais Mojitos and Mint Juleps with the little clubby light sabers in them. Everything was nicely muddled with crunchy ice. The frites were served with homemade mayo and ketchup in a shot glass was by request. When accompanied by the boys we were always given an amuse bouche or two. Only once were we gifted a salmon fume which I think had to accompany my 14 years aged Japanese whiskey. When alone only sometimes did we get the usual pack of sugar or a beloved financier. Even though the owner despised us at first we grew to love her pissy familarity with us. A day without her and our cafes were too dark, the mojito sin Japan or the ketchup failed to show. I do miss her Emmanuelle Beart cheekbones. I don't miss her twelve year old garçons. Fridays at the F Bar - tres bon.

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