I found them by mistake, at the bend of the Isle of Nantes, right behind the well-marked “Journey to Nantes” art project/touristic path—the remains of Nantes’ industrial past.
These days, most people work in the tertiary sector, but this trend is still fairly new. Just a few decades ago, people worked in the industrial sector. They were manufacturing finished, tangible goods instead of selling services or creating needs.
And then, factories started to close down. It happened almost overnight. Entire assembly and production lines were moved to countries where labour laws were more flexible—or better, non-existent.
Chimneys stopped smoking, heavy metals gates were locked and unemployment rates jumped.
But the factory walls are still here.
A few of these factories are a no man’s land while other are squatted. The prettiest and most significant buildings were converted into coffee houses or exhibition centres, such as the LU cookie factory. But there were dozens of factories in Nantes and most are just abandoned. Miles and miles of urban decay, in the centre of the city, by the river.
I explored the industrial wasteland under a beautiful blue sky.
I pictured myself, working shifts at the shipyard or in some factory, helping to build a vessel or producing sugar cubes.
It’s hard to imagine how it was, back then.
It’s even harder to imagine how it will be once these industries will all be gone, which is bound to happen sooner or later.
You can see the complete set of pictures taken in France on Flickr.