The Bubble sure is comfortable, but it’s not why you’re here. The Bubble can be in Edinburgh, or York, or back home with mummy and daddy, or it can be here in your Erasmus Community. The bubble is full of people who understand you, and things you understand. It’s American TV shows, roast dinners and simple non-gendered English words like “pie” and “fryup”. It’s not usually mountains, exams in foreign languages or blinding homesickness and panic, but sometimes these things just happen. Sometimes breaking out of the Bubble seems idiotic, but usually it’s a good thing.
If I hadn’t glanced outside the bulbous walls of the Bubble, for example, I would have missed Aix-en-Provence’s Graphic Novel festival last month, and never would have seen the Cité du Livre. For some reason it took this bibliophile seven months to figure out that there is a place in Aix-en-Provence devoted to literature, a place whose name in Google Translate produces variations on the theme of Book City, Book Estate and Book Ghetto.
The books, they are huge. Books which I recently blabbered about in a vlog are here reproduced in thirty-foot-high concrete form and act as a simple external wall to the Book Ghetto. They are huge.
Hidden unjustly away behind the gare routière, the Cité du Livre’s graphic novel festival played host to authors and graffiti artists alike, its slightly shabby walls transformed into booths full of first drafts, coloured panels and authors’ notes, pop-up shops and travelling art shows in the back of old Citroen vans.
Wandering through it all is rather like stumbling into someone else’s party, not entirely sure whether or not you should introduce yourself to the host. It’s often the case in France that big public events don’t have a facebook event or really an online presence at all, but when you stumble into the party, there are always more than enough people there.
Also worth noting of the world outside the Bubble is that national holidays are a little, um, different. While Mardi Gras passed us by with little more than a whisper, today’s Fete de Travail means that everywhere is closed. It’s worse than a sunday- everywhere is closed. This means crashing out yesterday after your 4am start for the airport was not entirely a good idea, since now you have no food. Oh Bubble.