What expats say: Brno is like home but with more things to do

She is bohemian. Always chic, a vegetarian who wants to eat local, goes to galleries and stays at the Alliance francaise after hours to play the piano. Oh, and she is a directrice of that place. All that at age 27. Meet Aude Martin from Lorraine, France.

What has brought you to Brno?
A chance. As a student of cultural management, I had an internship in České Budějovice, that’s when I visited the Czech Republic for the first time. I met a Czech boy there and we started dating, so I decided to stay. Eventually I had to go back to France to finish my master’s degree and we broke up.

I still wanted to come back, though, because I liked the country. And when I was working for a theatre festival in Avignon, I met actors from the Goose on a String Theatre who told me that Brno was the best city to go to. So I came, and stayed.

IMG_8919For 5 years so far. Can you see yourself living here forever?
Yes, if there are work opportunities.

What is it that makes you like the Czech Republic so much?
It is a hard question. I think my mind changed since I have lived here. When I did not understand Czech much, it was better for me. I could not understand what people were talking about in trams, I could switch off my brain and just live my life. Now I can understand and I can see that people are the same everywhere – they complain.

But I like that people here have a really good connection to nature, for example. Every weekend you can go to the forest with your friends, which is not that common in France. And I think people here are really friendly. Once you have a group of friends, you have them for sure. It was not the same in the south of France where I went to the university.

Originally you are from the Lorraine region, though. 
Yes, it is near to the border with Germany. I think the Czech Republic is quite similiar, as far as the nature and the mentality of people go. In Brno, however, there are more cultural events. So I feel like I am at home but with more things to do.

Does your family support your decision to live in Brno? 
Well, at the beginning, they were like “oh, but it is so far away”, but I also had the opportunity to go to Buenos Aires, Argentina, so I think they were happy I chose the Czech Republic. They live in the south of France and when you measure the distance from there to Brno, it is almost as if I lived in the very west of Bretagne. I see them every Christmas and they also come to visit me.

Your boyfriend is a French dancer who you have met in Brno…
Yes, I didn’t know him before, even though we are from the same region.

… do you see any difference between dating French and Czech men?
No, I don’t. Each individual is different, regardless the nationality. There is so much cliché about French guys. Supposedly they are very romantic, but Czech guys are too, I think. Mostly I see French guys with Czech girls, but hardly ever the opposite. I do not know why, maybe Czech girls behave differently from French girls.

But French girls are said to be very beautiful and chic, among the most beautiful ladies in the world.
Oh, in France we say that about Czech girls. When I was leaving France, my male friends would be like “ok, we will definitely visit you because the girls there are so beautiful”.

And love goes through the stomach. What do you think of Czech food?
(grumbles) Food is what I miss most about France. Especially in winter, because I try to buy as local as possible, but the choice is not great here. In summer it is ok, you can for example find some appricots or zuchinni that are good. In the south of France, there where a lot of Arabic markets with produce imported from the north of Africa.

But there are more and more restaurants opening that serve fresh and vegetarian food. I like to go to Kupé, Oáza, Podnebí, Café Atlas or Spolek.

Anything else you miss in the Czech Republic?
Cinema. I would like to go more often. In France I would go to a small art cinema, something like Kino Art, but they would show many more films I could watch with French subtitles. To see a foreing film now with Czech subtitles is still quite hard for me.

What parts of Brno do you like?
I live in Kaménka (Kamenná čtvrť) and I love it. It is a small community where you can make friends with your neighbourhs, which is important for me. Also, I like Kraví hora and Mariánské údolí.

How do you like to spend your free time in Brno and its neighbourhood?
It depends on my mood. Last weekend I went to see the Moravian Manchester exhibition in Moravská galerie, it was really good. Then I went to see the Čarokraj opera and then to blešák (flea market) in Fléda. Sometimes I like to take a train and go visit some small village. I don’t often go to Prague, I don’t like it that much.

What about some sports?
No, I am not really sporty. I like to walk, I go hiking. And I do yoga every morning, but just to wake up.

What theatres do you like in Brno?
The Goose on the Spring Theatre, they are brilliant. One of the first plays I saw there was Lásky jedné plavovlásky. I watched the movie before seeing the play so that I could understand it better. And I think they play Amadeus really well. I also liked the Reduta theatre before the director Jan Mikulášek left. And I really like the way Petr Forman does theatre, in my opinion that is the best.

What is more, you do the theatre yourself. 
Yes, I play the music. I participated in some performances as a flutist or pianist. I also try to sing. One day I would love to have a band and sing some Balkan music, no matter in what language.

Do you like to read Czech authors? 
I like Milan Kundera. I read Laughable Loves, The Unbearable Lightness of Being and Slowness. I also tried to read Kafka but I didn’t like him. I am not the biggest of readers. I use my brain at my job so I like to relax in a mindless way, for example by playing music. Sometimes I stay at the Alliance francaise and play the piano.

Bonjour Brno, the festival of French culture organized by the Alliance francaise is coming up. What can you tell me about it?
This year we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the twin cities Brno and Rennes so I decided to only invite artists from there. There will be exhibitions, concerts and a big happening in the atmospehere of the nomadic theatre in the garden of Mendel Museum in Mendelovo náměstí.

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