As I'm living in Rennes, I'm going to Nantes quite often; it's a very easy trip by train or by bus, and I usually make the round trip within a day. Here are some places to discover for an one-day walk in this fascinating city.
If you feel like "going green" after your travel, hop off your train and go to the Jardin des Plantes, or simply in English, the botanical garden : you just have to cross the street from the train station and you're there. Let your feet follow the sinuous paths, which meander through this beautiful english garden, between the many varieties of plants and exotic trees, the ponds and groves. Gardeners and landscapers from the 19th century designed this area, for the pleasure of strollers, but also for scientific research, with greenhouses, where exotic seeds from the french colonies would grow; you can visit them and see succulent plants and giant cacti. Take a breath of fresh air, go say hello to the goats and admire the poetic work of Claude Ponti, a fabulous illustrator, who created vegetal sculptures and stunning games for adults and children : check out his gigantic plant pots or his « Gros Poussin ».
Nantes' art Museum has just reopened after six years of restoration works, and the building is now a true gem. This museum's collection includes more than 12000 pieces from antique to contemporary art, from Ingres, Max Ernst, Sonia Delaunay, Pablo Picasso, Vassily Kandinsky, Raymond Hains, Nan Goldin and many others. My favorite parts of the galleries are the widest ones, like the patio, where temporary exhibitions are set up, and the room of great formats on the first floor. A delightful travel into art history, from an era to another.
The city center of Nantes is to be discovered randomly; the eyes simply turn up to the façades and their many details of architecture, the paintings on the walls, the traces of ancient ads, as well as pieces of street art... Be curious and enter the shops or the paved alleys and you will certainly meet surprises along your way. Two places not to be missed : the Passage Pommeraye, a magical covered passage impregnated with a parisian inspiration and the idealistic spirit of the 19th century : extravagant decoration, monumental marble stairs, wooden storefronts and neo-classical sculptures as symbols of the Arts and Industry...
You will also find this bright and rich style at the Place Graslin, with the theater of the same name and a brasserie with an outstanding design. La Cigale is an incredible restaurant, whose walls are overloaded with paintings, mosaics, mirrors and ceramics depicting hedonistic scenes. A feast for both the mouth and the eyes.
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