Between Rivers, Art and Fiction

Nantes is the capital of Loire-Atlantique and is located in the French region of Pays de la Loire. It exists and reinvents itself on Loire’s river side (the longest river of France) and is just a few kilometers away from the Atlantic. The rivers and the canals divide the city in a classic and poetic way and some call it the Venice of the West. It is where art crosses time and where the future arrives first. It has been elected the happiest city in France and it was chosen as the European Green Capital. Are you ready to discover it?

Well, maybe you don’t even need a map… 

Just follow the green line and find out what Nantes has to offer. We are not talking about subway line, but a green one painted on the floor (along 8 kilometers) and connecting the most remarkable tourist spots in the city such as monuments, art installations, museums, cultural events, viewpoints or gardens. Some of the activities that are included in the route are just temporary and happen mostly during Summer time. On the other hand, new spots are being gradually included on the trail to become permanent.

It’s a journey in constant motion and it allow us to look at the city in many different perspectives. We can actually say that a Journey to Nantes (Le Voyage à Nantes) is a unique cultural experience which underlines all the city qualities: cheerful, sensitive, exciting, cultural, artistic and unforgettable.

Nantes as the seaport of Jules Verne’s journeys 

Nantes and its boats inspired Jules Verne. This is where the well-known writer was born in 1828, the eldest son of a bourgeois class family. The people who study his life and work believe that he spent part of his childhood watching the ships arriving and leaving the city seaport. The truth is that Jules Verne’s imagination also has parted from Nantes in search of undiscovered worlds, often having a glimpse of the future, at the time disguised as pure fiction.

Nantes is thankful for being an inspiring place and pays tribute to the author in different ways, for example by having a museum – the Jules Verne Museum. It’s housed in a 19th Century building situated near to the Loire River and it keeps a rich collection dedicated to the writer. It’s composed of original manuscripts, personal objects, first editions of some of his books and replicas of some of his inventions.

Talking about imagination, inventions and Jules Verne

Imagine a futuristic place, full of fantasy that combines the creativity of the 20 Thousand Leagues Under The Sea’s author with the inventive and mechanical Leonardo da Vinci’s genius. All of this exists in Nantes along with huge animals in motion, a carousel, the most daring adventures and the most curious sensations. It’s called The Machines of the Island (Les Machines de L’île) and you will find it in the Eastern part of the island, where the city’s shipyards used to be housed until the 70’s. 

The idea was taken from a street theatre show created in 2007 by the Royal de Luxe theatre company as was part of the Biennale of Arts of the city. Several colossal creatures, representing the imaginary of Nantes, dominate the space. You’ll be able to meet, for example, a giant elephant with about 12 meters of height and in which you can even take an amazing journey and get a nice view of the city from the top. There is also a giant ant, a giant octopus and the famous Sea Worlds Carousel.

But Nantes is much more than science fiction 

It is also art. We can use the Estuary of Nantes as an example. It’s often described as a true open-air museum or a creative artistic adventure on the banks of the Loire River.

Throughout about 60 kilometers are displayed 29 works of art signed by renowned artists. They were all invited to participate, in three different phases, in an artistic project named Estuaire. It was one of the many creative and innovative impulses designed for city. The main goal was to give each place an artistic vision. You can discover this itinerary on foot, by bike or by boat.

It has love cookies made with butter 

Lu is the name of the famous cookies that you must taste while you’re visiting Nantes. Well, to begin with, they were created here in the 19th Century. These fine cookies are elegant, remarkable, tasteful and full of nutritional qualities. Maybe that’s why they are one of the well-known biscuits in France.  

The Lu cookies are made with butter, sugar, flour and milk and they were created by Jean-Roman Lefevre and Pauline Isabelle Utile, a young couple in love with bakery and… with each other. Together they combined the perfect elements that resulted in a genuine treat for your taste buds. 

A castle right in the heart…

Right in the centre of Nantes is located one of the most important historical heritage of the city – the Castle of the Dukes of Brittany or Château des ducs de Bretagne. It was built by François II, the last Duke of Brittany, in the 15th Century and it holds countless stories from different times. It’s the last castle in Loire before the river reaches the sea and is also where you can learn more about the city’s history. In the History of Nantes Museum (located inside the castle) Nantes’s history is told through seven different sequences, since its construction until the 20th Century. Besides the facts, you can also get to know the city through the eyes of poets, painters or film directors.

A classy spot for shopping

The Passage Pommeraye was opened in 1843, commissioned by Louis Pommeraye. It connects two streets and is considered one of the prettiest covered passages of Europe. It seems intact since its construction. It has three floors with amazing shops on each one and is decorated with statues and other Renaissance details. It’s the perfect place for shopping with elegance and class! It is also full with glamour. In 1961 was the set for one of the most well-known scenes from the movie Lola by Jacques Demy.
Jazz music and happy encounters by the river Erdre

Erdre is a Loire’s tributary that crosses the city. Every year it welcomes a famous jazz music festival named Les Rendez-Vous de l’Erdre. Artists from all over the world are invited to this event that attracts to the city many music lovers. It happens in a perfect and unique set: the stages are spread across the river displayed in more than a hundred boats and, at the same time, in the river banks that usually get crowded with people who want to be part of this breathtaking experience. 

The music completes the landscape and flows into the river in an organic and poetic way. That’s why these encounters are so unique. It’s a truly must-see event.

And the Muscadet…

It remind us the Portuguese green wine but is made from the Melon de Bourgogne grape variety and is the most produced white wine in the West Coast of the Loire region, on the West Coast of France. The Muscadet releases fruity and floral essences and goes perfectly with seafood dishes. Respected connoisseurs describe it as a pure, clean, fresh and light wine. 

In Nantes, you’ll find a lot of wine bars and several recommended restaurants that offer a careful selection of various types of Muscadet. Now it’s time to make a toast to Nantes with a glass of Muscadet. We suggest you do it in one of the cheerful city esplanades.