Nantes is a green town, and I’m not talking about ecology here, even if many Nantes inhabitants have a concern for the environment, but rather the town’s parks and botanical gardens. Nantes has 100 public parks and the locals say that there is a little piece of garden for every Nantes resident just 300 metres from where they live.
Being from Nantes, each park reminds me of something particular. The Parc de Procé reminds me of childhood afternoons, in between picnics and pushchair outings, with a mini bobsleigh hill hidden under the trees. It is a true London-style park in Nantes, with its spacious lawns and small manor which has been transformed into a tea shop.
Another memory comes from the centre of the park at Grand Blottereau. It has even more grassy areas where you can nap or read a book. There are also many treasures for children, such as the breathtaking Korean temple just behind the bamboo poles. At Grand Blottereau there are often beautiful floral arrangements as well as even bike sales!
One of the first gardens that you will see in Nantes is the Jardin des Plantes just opposite the station. You may stroll here while waiting for a train or look around on arriving in Nantes. Here the lawns are marked off and you have no choice but to walk down its paths, between hundred-year-old magnolias and Claude Ponti chicks. You may come across goat kids or ancient greenhouses. Or paddle in the water to take in the sun like the ducks, or sip mint water at the Orange Tree Cafe.
The last garden developed by the Town of Nantes can be found at the heights of the Chantenay area. The Parc des Oblates is a haven where sheep mix with the children playing wooden games.
The most atypical park, without doubt, is the one found at Île de Versailles with its Japanese airs. As there are two tram routes serving the university campus, I spent long evenings under the shadow of its willows.
But my favourite is still the Rose Garden at the Parc Floral de la Beaujoire for its flowers of all colours, intoxicating rose scents and walks along the Erdre with its ducks. It is above all the park where my children are growing up, playing in sand, learning to pedal on their own, and in turn the place where their memories are now being created.