Le Petit Tour de France: Nantes

My final stop on ‘Le Petit Tour de France’ was the mid-sized city of Nantes, about four hours southwest of Paris. I spent two days there, wandering the streets with Beirut’s song, “Nantes,” playing on a continuous loop in my head. (It’s a good thing I like it!)

 

It was mostly gray and rainy during my stay, but that didn’t prevent me from enjoying this charming city and wishing for more time there. From the adorable historic neighborhood of Le Bouffay, to the lovely Chatêau des ducs de Bretagne and the fantastic Les Machines de l’Île, I always found something to admire. (I also ate some of my best meals throughout my entire time in France there)…

 

PHOTO

 

PHOTO

PHOTO

PHOTO

l’Erdre River…

PHOTO

PHOTO

PHOTO

PHOTO

PHOTO

PHOTO

The lovely Japanese garden on l’Île de Versailles, where I found the beautiful Autumn leaves…

PHOTO

PHOTO

PHOTO

PHOTO

PHOTO

PHOTO

PHOTO

PHOTO

An incredible building that I loved (unfortunately, I can’t remember what it is now)…

PHOTO

PHOTO

PHOTO

A large and beautiful promenade…

PHOTO

PHOTO

The historic neighborhood, “Le Bouffay”…

PHOTO

PHOTO

PHOTO

PHOTO

And an antiques sale I stumbled upon there…

PHOTO

PHOTO

One of the city’s most well-known landmarks, the Chatêau des ducs de Bretagne…

PHOTO

PHOTO

PHOTO

PHOTO

PHOTO

Inside the ramparts of the Chatêau

PHOTO

PHOTO

PHOTO

PHOTO

PHOTO

And looking down from the ramparts…

PHOTO

la Basilique Saint-Nicolas de Nantes…

PHOTO

PHOTO

PHOTO

PHOTO

Cathédrale Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul de Nantes…

PHOTO

PHOTO

PHOTO

PHOTO

PHOTO

I loved the contemporary stained glass I found in the cathedral…

PHOTO

PHOTO

le Lieu Unique (“The Unique Place”) is a wonderful art and culture space housed in the former factory of France’s famous “Petit-Beurre” cookies.  It was fun exploring this interesting place, and I ate an incredible lunch in their restaurant…

PHOTO

PHOTO

PHOTO

PHOTO

PHOTO

PHOTO

Visitors can go to the very top of the tower to see a view of the city, which was great, even though it was raining that day…

PHOTO

PHOTO

PHOTO

Turn the yellow wheel and the small platform spins so you get a 360 view…

PHOTO

Le Passage Pommeraye is a covered promenade / small shopping mall that links two streets.  It was built in the mid-1800’s, and is quite beautiful…

PHOTO

PHOTO

PHOTO

le Marché de Talensac – yet another amazing covered food market (France is just full of them!)…

PHOTO

PHOTO

PHOTO

PHOTO

The Loire river…

PHOTO

PHOTO

Cross the Loire over to the Île de Nantes and you’ll find “Les Machines de l’Île” on the site of post-industrial shipyards.  An incredible group of artists, mechanics, performers, and all around makers-of-things have made their home there.  They’ve built a marine animal themed carousel, an enormous mechanical elephant, and are currently in the process of producing the ambitious “Heron Tree” project.  The Marine Carousel…  

PHOTO

PHOTO

(And another great ragtag band discovery by the carousel – listen and watch a bit HERE)…

PHOTO

The carousel looks even more amazing at night.  I wish I was able to take a ride and see the incredible mechanical sea creatures inside, but alas, the line was just WAY too long…

PHOTO

“The Great Elephant” emerging from the warehouse and embarking on it’s 1.5 hour-long tour around the shipyards (complete with passangers aboard the top)…  It’s three times the size of a real elephant (12 x 8 x 21 meters), took three months to build, uses the leather from five cowhides for the ears alone, and is set in motion using 62 cylinders (hydraulic, pneumatic, and gas)…  

PHOTO

PHOTO

PHOTO

PHOTO

Be sure to check out my VIDEOS of this big guy in action HERE and HERE

Their third project is still in progress: “The Heron Tree,” an enormous tree full of bugs, plants, and, of course, a large mechanical heron.  They’ve built a prototype branch that you can walk about on, and in their Machine Gallery, you can take a tour of all the little critters they’re creating to inhabit the finished tree (its projected size is 55 meters in diameter and 35 meters tall, by the way!)…

PHOTO

PHOTO

PHOTO

PHOTO

PHOTO

The model for the final product…

PHOTO

PHOTO

…And the great Heron, of course.  It can carry passengers in the baskets at its feet…

PHOTO

PHOTO

And other creatures will live in this imaginary habitat as well…

PHOTO

PHOTO

PHOTO

PHOTO

PHOTO

PHOTO

PHOTO

PHOTO

The warehouse and workshops where all the magic happens…

PHOTO

PHOTO

PHOTO

What an amazing place to visit!  I highly recommend it if you are ever in Nantes…

And before I wrap up the post, here are a few more things I stumbled upon in Nantes – a protest march against the blockade in Gaza…

PHOTO

PHOTO

And one of the cutest, most clever pieces of street art EVER…

PHOTO

 

And that’s about it!  With my wonderful few days in Nantes, ‘Le Petit Tour de France’ came to an end. Just a few days before Thanksgiving, I returned to Paris for my flight back to the States. Even though I was extremely sad to be leaving France – the country I’d grown to love over the previous three months – I was also looking forward to some time back home. I’d been out of the country for five months at that point, and was learning how exhausting the life of a foreigner can be. And I took comfort in the fact that I would be back to my beloved France in three month’s time – it wasn’t goodbye, just “à bientôt!” (“See you soon!”)

 

Next up on the blog, a few more posts of favorite pictures from those first three months in France, and then pictures from my snowy month in Santa Fe, New Mexico! Until then, au revoir!

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s