A former geographer, I still enjoy wandering around the streets of a city. I’m interested in all the details which – to my mind – are essential to understanding a city: public transport connections, the reasons why certain businesses are located in a certain street and even architectural facades… Yes I know, it sounds a bit absurd!
Because of this, I’ve discovered incredibly beautiful buildings in Nantes, on street corners and hidden away in dead ends! There are some art deco gems (my favourites) along with all the glittering new buildings, such as the Mirror building of the General Council within walking distance from the Erdre river, in rue Sully.
I like to wander around, looking up to catch sight of the mascarons in Nantes. They’re nothing to do with macarons – they’re sculptures which can be seen on the facades of old buildings in Nantes. These decorations have rather scary faces, sometimes resembling a humanoid octopus or the gods of the sea. There are plenty in the streets in the Feydeau area. These mystical figures are a nod to the history and geography of Nantes, given that before the 1930s, the Feydeau area was an island of the Loire.
Speaking of the 1930s, in my opinion, the most beautiful building in Nantes is hidden away in the hills of Quai de la Fosse. It’s an architectural jewel of the 1930s which has been recently renovated and catches your eye when looking at Nantes from the Machines de l’Île area. This yellow building seems to look far more imposing than those around it.
It’s via a small street, behind the superb private apartments of Cours Cambronne (in the Graslin area) that we can see the details of this Art Deco treasure up close – particularly its azure blue mosaics. This former PTT call centre is undoubtedly my favourite!
The rue de l’Héronnière is also home to some beautiful buildings, six of which are classified as historic monuments – a must-visit for anyone who loves great architecture.
A little further in rue Racine there’s another building which I’m crazy about! Its art deco facade was the first thing to catch my eye but what I love most are its terraces which are bathed in light! Inside lies a beautiful, breath-taking dome. Every time I pass by, I stop to have a look, I take a picture and I smile, telling myself that one day I’ll live there!