Nantes

Bordeaux J'Adore - - ◆ —— Sea-farers All —— ◆ -

NANTES HAS DONE A RE­MARK­ABLE JOB OF CON­VERT­ING ITS IN­DUS­TRIAL SPA­CES INTO CATHE­DRALS OF CUL­TURE. Quays which once re­sounded with the hus­tle and bus­tle of mar­itime trade, and later ship-build­ing, now ring with the sounds of live mu­sic, street-per­for­mance and café cul­ture. The city has in­vested big money in res­ur­rect­ing its ar­chi­tec­tural her­itage. Visit the Isle de Fey­deau to ad­mire im­mac­u­lately-re­stored 18th cen­tury ho­tels par­ti­c­uliers. These were the sump­tu­ous homes of mer­chants who grew rich on the pro­ceeds of At­lantic trade in wool, tex­tiles, and su­gar.

Nantes pros­pered again, turn­ing to man­u­fac­tur­ing in­dus­try and ship-build­ing. Over the last decade, ar­chi­tects from all over Europe have been com­mis­sioned to breathe new life into the old wharves. Mod­ern build­ings ref­er­enc­ing the mar­itime and man­u­fac­tur­ing past have sprung up, no­tably The School of Ar­chi­tec­ture and the Manny Build-

ing, both com­pleted in 2009. This June, Bri­tish ar­chi­tect Stan­ton Wil­l­liams’ €48.8 mil­lion trans­for­ma­tion of the 19th Cen­tury Musee de Beaux Arts will throw open its doors.

With over 1000 hectares of green spa­ces, and miles of cy­cle paths, Nantes de­serves is rep­u­ta­tion as a life­style des­ti­na­tion. It has also suc­cess­fully branded it­self as an art hub. Es­tu­aire is an open-air mu­seum on the Loire es­tu­ary dis­play­ing 30 con­tem­po­rary in­ter­na­tional art in­stal­la­tions, in­clud­ing a 120-me­tre long snake and a sink­ing house. Ex­plore the ex­hibits on foot, by bike or by boat. Kids will love the 12-me­tre high me­chan­i­cal ele­phant at the Ma­chine de L’ile, built on the old ship-yards, where sur­re­al­ist art­works are in­spired by Nantes-na­tive son Jules Vernes’, ‘In­vented Worlds’.

ESQUISSE STAN­TON-WIL­LIAMS

The Nantes Art Mu­seum will re­open in june 2017.

PHOTO JEAN-DO­MINIQUE BILLAUD

Town houses on Ile Fey­deau.

PHOTO FRANCK TOMBS

The ma­chines of the Isle, parc des chantiers.

PHOTO AM­BROISE TÉZENAS

Town houses in Nantes.

PHOTO AN­TOINE GUILHEM DUCLÉON

Stairs in Ile Fey­deau.

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