- The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but seeing with new eyes. Marcel Proust
Visit Nantes, France
Once a busy seaport in the estuary of the Loire, the fascinating city of Nantes was chosen in the old times by the dukes of Brittany as their historical capital. If the city still boasts a unique architectural heritage with its magnificent Château des ducs de Bretagne, a Renaissance-style castle nestled in a fortress, a medieval quarter and one of the highest cathedrals of France - it has been transformed in the last 20 years probably more than any other city in France. It is not only a vibrant and young metropolis often rewarded for its top-quality of life - Nantes was also Green Capital of Europe in 2013 – but a city where art has literally been integrated in all possible aspects, making it a true example of how artists can turn a city upside down!
The Nantes-born writer Jules Verne would most likely not believe how creativity has made its way in Nantes: from narrow streets to boulevards, walk along the 15-kilometre long green trail, literally painted on the ground to enable visitors not to get lost, and you will be amazed by an incredible diversity of styles, atmospheres and artworks.
From 19th century Passage Pommeraye covered with an impressive glass-roof to the 20th design icon Station Prouvé; from the new Court House built by Jean Nouvel to the 18 gigantic rings of Daniel Buren (les anneaux!) displayed along the lively Quai des Antilles, on the banks of the Loire; and up to Le Nid, the panoramic terrace of the 32-floor high Tour de Bretagne, everything in Nantes is about transforming landscapes and visions into art. In which other city can you also ride a mechanical Elephant or a marine creature in a 35-metre high merry-go-round?
In the surroundings, discover the Estuaire Nantes–Saint-Nazaire art trail: also run by Le Voyage à Nantes, this unique collection of 30 artworks created by internationally renowned artists enables visitors to discover the diversity of landscapes along the Loire river’s estuary by boat, by car or bicycle.
Every summer the cultural project Le Voyage à Nantes invites artists from all over the world to use Nantes as a playground for their creativity.
Nantes is also tasty, with numerous markets offering a great diversity of local seafood, from langoustines to oysters, but also cheese, fresh vegetable, pastries and other delicacies. Many creative chefs have settled in Nantes and continuously reinvent the local cuisine. A few minutes outside the city, the vineyards are renowned for their refreshing, complex and expressive Muscadet wines.