I think we all have a place we fall in love with.
It’s like falling in love with a person.
You go somewhere without knowing that it’s going to be love at first sight and yet as soon as you arrive, you feel something very special about this place.
You miss it the second you leave it. You’re nostalgic when you don’t go there for a long time. In fact, you just want to go there again and again and again…and even live there.
And where you’re there, you‘re a different person.
That’s how I feel about Brighton.
Five years ago, I went to Brighton for the first time and immediately fell in love with it. I was in the south of England for an artist residency, and I’ve noticed that I wasn’t far from this city. On an afternoon off, one of my friends took me there. And I immediately realized that something was going on.
Something really positive.
And since then, except last year because of the Covid, I’ve been going there every year. And it’s because I miss this city so much and I don’t know when I’ll be able to travel there again, that I chose to talk about it in this article.
And maybe it will make you want to go there too!
I’ve always loved England. Its culture, its very diverse areas, the very relaxed mindset of a lot of English people…and Brighton is, for me, very representative of all of this.
When you arrive there, you immediately notice that art is around every corner. A lot of very talented musicians play in the streets. Many pictures on the walls pay homage to musicians who have made music (and Brighton) history. Festivals and art venues offer an exciting program. In fact, there’s a real artistic community that sucks you in, in a really positive way, and inspires you regardless of your artistic medium. There’s a kind of pleasant and invisible spiral that takes place, like a domino effect where each artist inspires the other. I’m not surprised that many great artists have lived (and still live) there. It’s very easy to be stimulated by this city!
One of the other things that make me love Brighton is the fact that it’s by the sea. A big part of my family lives in Britanny, and for many years I spent my summer holidays there. I’ve always loved the sea and what it represents. The endless horizon. The calm that can quickly turn into something violent. In fact, I’ve always wanted to live by the sea. I think it’s a fascinating landscape, something you can look at over and over and never get tired of.
Brighton is a city between land and sea, and for me, it’s like a city between work and holidays. That’s what it means to me. I imagine working the week and going for a walk on the beach in the evening or during the weekends. Breathing in the fresh ocean air and recharging my batteries.
And how can you not enjoy the splendid sunsets on the beach? I’ve seen a few there and I always love the moment when people start to quietly and silently arrive to appreciate this natural and magical spectacle.
As I said, what I’ve always liked with the English people is their way of being cool, of being free, of being themselves without worrying about what other people can think of them. Here in France, I feel like we live in a society where we constantly judge each other (even, and especially without wanting to, I think) and where we’re judged all the time. I notice this every time I dare to wear something ‘not so common’ : one day I wore plaid trousers and a lot of people stared at me in the subway. It’s crazy, isn’t it?
Whereas in England, nobody seems to care about what you wear. Nobody stares at you if you have yellow hair. Everything is normal, everything is okay. And I love that. It’s a form of acceptance of others that should be universal.
If you go there one day, let yourself be carried along by the city’s spirit. Maybe you’ll end up walking Brighton’s Lanes. Maybe you’ll end up walking into the cute little shops, or going into small cafés to eat delicious cakes, or walking through the surrounding streets to look at all the colorful houses. Because that’s what Brighton is all about: letting yourself be carried along without knowing exactly where you’re going and always coming across little treasures. It’s a city full of surprises, of little hidden places that make you fall in love even more.
And I can also mention the fact that I’ve always been delighted with all the restaurants where I’ve eaten (and it’s really easy to eat vegetarian / vegan food in Brighton!). And, as for the food, you shouldn’t believe the clichés about the weather: it’s definitely not always raining!
One of my brother’s favorite quotes is “Find your place of peace and carry it with you always ” (I don’t know who’s the author, sorry!). And I think that the first day I went to Brighton, I found my place of peace. I know that when I’m there I feel different: I feel better. I feel more relaxed, less nervous.
And yet, I know that it’s not a perfect city. It’s not totally safe there. There are also dangerous things happening there (even if it’s a fiction, the book “Dirty Week-end” by Helen Zavahi, reminded me of that). By the way, I encourage you to read this article. I know that I have to keep that in mind. But my wish remains unchanged: I want to live, for at least for several years, in Brighton.
This may test my relationship with Brighton. When people are in a long-distance relationship, they tend to idealize each other because they’re not together all the time and they only see the qualities of the other one. And when they’re finally together, they may realize that the other person isn’t so perfect. Maybe it will be the same for Brighton and me. But I‘d rather try than regret not trying.