The strike of garbage collectors
At first I decided not to write about Nantes, as a form of protest against the garbage collector’s strike, that was ongoing for 2 weeks before we arrived in the city. What’s bugging me is the attitude of the government to approach these kind of events: nonexistent. I don’t know the details, nor the claims for such strike. But as a tourist I felt offended that the officials didn’t care or didn’t want to take action to find a solution for this problem. Then, I vowed not to write about why you should visit Nantes. Piles of garbage reigned everywhere in the city, and it was actually difficult to take decent pictures or enjoy a normal sightseeing walk.
After more than half year I began to chill out about this and decided to tell you about Nantes. Because, despite the garbage I saw during that weekend, the city is very beautiful and you should definitely visit Nantes.
Why you should visit Nantes
There are definitely many reasons to visit Nantes. A 2 days stay is enough to get a glimpse of this French city, but if you want to find out more about the history of the place, or discover the culture, you can add an extra day or two for museums and day trips.
The tower itself is very boring-looking building, pretty much as the Montparnasse Tower in Paris. But you definitely need to climb the tower for breathtaking views of the city. You can enjoy a sip on the lounge bar at the top, in Le Nid (The Nest). What was surprising was the price for such attraction! For only 1€ (one euro!) we took the elevator for 144 meters to enjoy the skyline of Nantes. And we went at the best moment of the day: the sunset was amazing!
The Island of Mechano-animals
You can stroll on the rivers of Loire river and have a picnic in this area while admiring the view on the city. BUT that’s not all! Here, on the island you can find the museum of Mechano-animals, called Les Machines de l’île. The ticket is quite pricey, but don’t worry! You can watch the elephant parade for free. The mechano-elephant is the most impressive among the machines.
Old Town of Nantes
When you visit Nantes, take a walk on the pedestrian area, on the old streets filled with restaurants and shops. Sometimes you can stumble upon a tower of a church, or an interesting building.
A covered passage even more beautiful than the secret covered passage ways in Paris: Pommeraye Passage. This area is a place where you can do shopping or find a nice souvenir. Make sure you enter the bakery on the ground level to test the pastry of Nantes: le gâteau Nantais.
During spring time, the most beautiful botanical garden will surprise you with colours and floral diversity. You will also find interesting sculptures and statues.
Castle of the Dukes of Brittany
One of the iconic Castle on Loire River is found at Nantes: the Castle of the Dukes of Brittany. Go explore the battlements of this castle and enjoy a nice view over the city for free. Then, if you have time and money, take a visiting tour and discover the castle and region’s history as much as you can.
Just outside of the castle, you can find the perfect mirror area. If you are a photograph enthusiast like I am, this area will mesmerize you. Just work your creative angle and/or wait for the perfect moment when everything is smoothly aligned for your picture.
If time and money also permits you, take your visit to the museum. Here, the possibilities are endless. You can take a sneak-peek inside the Natural History Museum, or Fine Arts Nantes Museum. Opera of Nantes is another iconic cultural building you should see.
But the cultural visit that impressed me the most, was the Memorial to the Abolition of Slavery in Nantes. This memorial is hidden underground, on the rivers of Loire and lists all important dates and countries that started taking action towards the slavery abolition. The memorial represents a huge steps forward towards admitting that France promoted slavery and denied human rights (especially that there still are French people wanting to cover this dark side of history). To find the memorial, follow the slave cargo ships’ names encrusted in the asphalt.