Nantes

Nantes seems to be a city like the city where I grew up. Not only because it is on a major river, the Loire, whereas Hull has the Humber. Also, because it has links to the slave trade, whereas the MP for Hull was an abolitionist, parts of Nantes were built by people who profited from this trade, and is something Nantes is slowly coming to grips with, however instead of tearing down statues, as in Bristol, has put up plaques telling the stories of the people involved just in front of the houses where they lived. It has reclaimed the areas where once there was shipbuilding, and industry, and has transformed them into areas where people can walk and take in the culture. Some of the massive cranes are still there, preserved to remind us of our days gone by, and have become an integral part of the city, or even emblems!

Modern architecture proliferates as it should in every city, but not at the expense of Nantes’ more classical architecture. You can go from the Passage Pommeraye with its elegant lines, sculptures, ironwork, to the Hausmanian boulevards, to the castle, to the architectural rejuvenation of the Île de Nantes.

Culture thrives, and seems to be what the city can boast about and be proud of, possibly at the expense of a certain security in some areas, which are best avoided at night, or best avoided at all. The annual “Voyage à Nantes” takes you on a 12km journey through the city showing works of art, some of which the Nantais decide they would quite like to keep please, and become landmarks in their own right.

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