The Tour Bretagne in Nantes

When you arrive in Nantes, you just can’t miss the Tour Bretagne. The Tour Bretagne, Nantes’ only skyscraper, will be celebrating its 40th anniversary in November 2016. And even though it is now difficult to imagine the city of Nantes without it, the Tour Bretagne was seen for a long time as a blot on the urban landscape…

To me personally, it has always seemed like a beacon in the city… and in my life!

When you reach Place Bretagne, at the foot of the tower, you get a pleasant feeling of having travelled back in time… Whoosh, here you are back in the seventies! The architecture in the area dates back to the post-war period, particularly the part that was rebuilt after the bombing of the city. That is undoubtedly why this area has something of the feeling of Manhattan about it! At least in my imagination, because as a small girl, the Tour Bretagne was always my Central Business District and I could see myself with my attaché case under my arm, heading up to my office on the 20th floor.

Ten years later, although I wasn’t working there, I found myself living a stone’s throw from the Tour Bretagne. And when I came home at night after interminable student parties, this urban beacon was my landmark.

Like any self-respecting beacon, the Tour Bretagne is battered by high winds, and the square where it was built in November 1976 is always somewhat draughty! It’s the worst place to be with a smart hairdo, but the best place for looking up girls’ skirts!

Since 2012, the Tour Bretagne has welcomed a new resident… Not a seagull or a cormorant, but a huge heron that has made its nest on the top of the 32nd floor!

If you take the lift, you can now get to the top of the Tour Bretagne where this nest is concealed.  You can nestle on one of the egg-shaped stools, sip a glass of juice and take in the panoramic view of Nantes. From the Tour’s height of 144 metres, the city is revealed. You can see the different neighbourhoods, the tramways and the onlookers swarming in the streets. You can search for the Château (which is not so easy to find), photograph the sunset, take selfies with your neighbourhood in the background and realise that Nantes is actually a big city and that, fortunately, there is this beacon where you can consider it from on high.

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