I have been back from my TBU conference for a little over a month now. Each time I sit down to write about Nantes I just don’t know how to start but I figured I have been putting it off for long enough so I will give it my best. Although I am slightly certain it still wont do it justice.
Even though I had read a bunch of books on France, I had never heard of Nantes. In fact I was pronouncing it wrong for weeks. Excuse me, sometimes I am an uncultured American. It is pronounced without the ES but how would I know that?
Thankfully a friend of mine is dating a Frenchmen and he managed to correct me prior to me arriving.
My real question is: How does no one know about Nantes? It is a quirky city with so much character! Every corner you turn there is something interesting to look at.
It is a city that had a campaign called “My city turned upside down by art” and then they literally turned all the signs on a street upside down! Nantes can you be any cooler?
My first night in town I went to the Le Nid. It is the only skyscraper in the whole city and the bar on the roof was swan themed. All the chairs were eggs! I love when places are themed. Since it was the tallest building and none of the others even came close, the whole city just opened up for you. Creating perfect patterns of streets and buildings like a giant maze.
The second day started with a walking tour of city. The guide was a local student from Germany who fell in love with Nantes and decided to stay and learn French. She took us to all her favorite places which in turn became my favorite places as well.
The highlight for me the Jardin Des Plantes. Words fail to describe this park but of course I will try. To me it was like getting to fall down the rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland and straight out of the mind of the artist Claude Ponti who created these designs.
There were giant catepillars carved out of bushes that moved, benches that dramatically went from tiny to having to climb up ( think the Drink me! bottles) and a snoozing chicken just to name a few. Later we went back at night to catch the last time they would be illuminated for the season. It was just one of the many quirky things this city has to offer.
Shortly after we made our way to the local market and got to sample some of the goods. We enjoyed apple cider and some crepes. Let me start again, SALTED BUTTER CARAMEL CREPES. Just for the record, I am not a fan of caramel. I would choose chocolate over caramel hands down. But I went with it. I will never smack talk caramel again. The man who made them for us told me his wife makes the filling every day. It tasted like it. I am salivating just remembering it. If you are ever in Nantes stop by this creperie, you wont be disappointed.
As if this all wasn’t enough that night we had the opening night ceremony of the conference at the Chateau. The interior courtyard of the Chateau des ducs de Bretagne is a stunning blue and white façade. Small trees lined the area and set up with in were local food trucks for us to try. With the wine flowing freely we sampled oysters, cheeses, cookies, crepes and my personal favorite the galliettes. Which is slightly spicy sausage wrapped in crepe breading. I went back more then once for those.
Tipsy from wine and full from enjoying all the local cuisine I thought to myself.