Chris Wormald – A Photographer's travel blog.

Fuji XT10: Nantes (off season).

France; Nantes; Water/Mirror1

Water/Mirror, Nantes

Images and text are ©Chris Wormald and can only be used with written permission after a fee has been paid.

On reading that the city of Nantes (pronounced Naunt) has a reputation as one of the greenest and most liveable cities in France, I was encouraged to visit. So I went by train and arranged an AirBnB for a week to experience it for myself.

France; Nantes; MuseumNaturalHistoryl1

Last week in February – signs of Spring

France; Nantes; Passage Pommeraye1

Passage Pommeraye, Nantes

France; Nantes; La Cigale; interior2

La Cigale, Nantes

I took the Fuji XT10 and its lenses (the 14mm, 23mm, 35mm and 60mm) and a monopod. The XE2 and mid-range zoom too, in case of trouble.

France; Nantes; Library & Museum of Printing1

The library and the very interesting, Museum of Printing

France; Nantes; MuseumofPrint1

France; Nantes; MuseumofPrint2

I was lucky with the first 2 days of good light and got some nice exteriors around the city, using the popular tramways to get around as well as walking. I discovered a city not totally given over to the car, with green spaces and pedestrianisation and bicycles.

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Glass and Steel, Nantes

Unfortunately, in later days I saw sunlight rarely, however it is still February!

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France; Nantes; river Loire; Belem1

The Belem at her winter mooring, Nantes

Nantes sits by the powerful River Loire and underground there is a confluence with the River Erdre. The Erdre surfaces in the city and provides some charming views and some lovely residential moorings for those (like myself) who love boats! A nearby island with a Japanese garden makes a nice detour.

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Moorings on the Erdre, Nantes

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Japanese Garden, Nantes – motion panorama with the XT10.

The Loire flows on for another 34 miles until it reaches the sea at Saint-Nazaire where the shipyards that used to be in Nantes have been relocated. The large island where the yards were located is being developed as an extension of the city centre as well as an area of creative arts and engineering. An extraordinary elephant lives there.

France; Nantes; Isle de Nantes; elephant1

In population terms, Nantes is a young city with a university and colleges. In the evenings, countless bars and restaurants are full of young people, giving it a lively, unthreatening feel.

France; Nantes; city centrenight2

France; Nantes; city centrenight1

The château of the Dukes of Brittany is surrounded by a moat and provides a big presence in the city. It is very accessible and free to walk the grounds and around the moat. The complex has a cafe and exhibition halls.

France; Nantes; ChateauDucal1

There are “grand” squares complete with grand buildings, an opera house, theatres, and some restored medieval timber-framed buildings, and a wonderful art nouveau brasserie called La Cigale. Whatever you do, when visiting Nantes, go into La Cigale and be overwhelmed by the stunning interior. I was expecting my cafe crème to be very expensive, instead it was the same as elsewhere! A nice surprise.

France; Nantes; La Cigale; interior1

La Cigale, Nantes

The restored Passage Pommeraye is also a must see. A shopping area on three floors that has an unexpectedly Cheltenham feel to it. The shopping streets nearby are for those who will pay 300euros or more for a pair of men’s shoes, but do not despair, walk on a little way and there are “normal” shops with normal prices; as many as you could wish for.

France; Nantes; shopping1

The Jardin des Plantes (botanic garden) is a stones throw from the main railway station. Outside it had an unsurprisingly off season feel, but if the glass-houses are open, there are a few delights to be seen in the hot damp interiors.

France; Nantes; BotanicGarden-pitcherplant2

Hidden gems in the Jardin des Plantes

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Waiting for the train back to Briouze, I took some shots in the Jardin des Plantes, with the XE2 and the 35mm f2. It seemed silly to have taken it to Nantes and not used it because of my love affair with the XT10.

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It was a treat to eat good Indian, Thai and Chinese food at lunchtime, avoiding the plethora of hamburger and kebab joints, favourite with the students.

France; Nantes; city; coffeemachine1

Plenty of Coffee Shops

In the magnificent Cathedral, is the tomb of the Duke and Duchess of Brittany (parents of Anne of Brittany), who married two kings of France (not at the same time!) The sculptures guarding the tomb are remarkable, depicting the cardinal virtues which Marguerite and Ann must have had in spades. It is well lit and has a viewing platform.

France; Nantes; Cathedral; tomb1

Nantes, like many French cities and towns suffered great damage during the second world war, as did its citizens, and lost some architectural gems, but it feels a very positive, forward thinking, go-ahead place. The town has been a socialist stronghold for quite a while, quite unlike the area around where I live, which seems to be dying a slow death.

France; Nantes; reflection sky1

Not so many cars in Nantes city centre

Nantes is well worth a visit, even in February; it cheered me up no end.

France; Nantes; mural-StreetArt1

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