Le Hangar à Bananes (“Banana Warehouse”) is a symbolic place in the city of Nantes. As a newcomer to the city, you’ll hear its name on the lips of almost everyone you meet in Nantes. What’s more, the fact that it’s a difficult concept to define will make you want to find out more.
What is Le Hangar à Bananes?
At Le Hangar à Bananes, you’ll find bars, restaurants, an art gallery, a theatre and a nightclub, with around fifteen different establishments in total. It’s a place where people go out, in the broadest sense of the term, and that’s what makes it so interesting. You can go there to see an exhibition and then enjoy a drink on the terrace. Or you can turn up without knowing which bar you’re going to, and decide when you get there.
You’re probably thinking, just as I did the first time I heard about it, that the place must be huge to accommodate all of that. And you’d be right. Le Hangar à Bananes, located on Quai des Antilles, was originally used to store the bananas that arrived in the port of Nantes from Guadeloupe, Guinea and Côte d’Ivoire. Until 1987 it was a warehouse measuring about 150m long by 50m wide, with a total floor space of 8000m². Can you imagine how many bananas must have been stored there in the 1930s?!
Why visit Le Hangar à Bananes?
Today, the people of Nantes go there not to work but to enjoy themselves in a rather enchanting setting overlooking the Loire. It is just next to the grey Titan crane and opposite the Daniel Buren Rings, in the industrial surroundings of the Parc des Chantiers. It’s an especially pleasant place to be in the summer, with the terraces filled with sun loungers, a fresh breeze coming off the river and the buzz of the tours run by Le Voyage à Nantes.
What I particularly like about Le Hangar à Bananes is that each of the venues is its own, clearly defined little world, thanks to the decor, clientele and the events that each one hosts. When you walk along the old warehouse in search of a place to stop for a drink, it feels a bit like you’re going window shopping, because each bar has a large glass frontage.
Even though people visit throughout the day, it’s at night that Le Hangar à Bananes really comes to life. It’s tucked away from the city centre and residential areas, but well served by public transport. The venues close quite late, and you can often see a mass exodus of people from the bars in the centre heading for Le Hangar à Bananes after a certain time. If you’re looking for a place to go out late at night, you’ve found it!
Which places should not be missed?
I’m going to share my favourite places with you, but as every Nantes resident has their own opinion on the matter, the best way of making up your mind is try them all. Make sure you leave plenty of time, as there are lots of places to try!
- Le Ferrailleur, for its rock ambiance, concerts and themed evenings such as Digital Aperitifs
- La Hab Galerie, because the exhibitions are always a great surprise and you can find some lovely things in the shop to treat yourself or someone else.