After a few days as a tourist in my hometown, I usually enjoy getting off the beaten track and finding new places to explore, no matter how far and how gritty they can be—basically, I need some non-tourist spots.
Lucky as I am, I also got to enjoy a true local stereotype: torrential downpours that wouldn’t stop. Brittany is famous for being a rainy French region, and proud locals typically reply to those who complain too loudly about the weather, “En Bretagne, il ne pleut que sur les cons” (“In Brittany, it only rains on the idiots”). Obviously, I didn’t dare to complain too loudly—I just took pictures of the weather instead.
Once the sun was back, we enjoyed a long walk by the Loire River, past the Ile de Nantes, on the Quai du Marquis d’Aiguillon. This area is part of Nantes’ industrial past and you won’t find any tourists there… which is too bad because it is well worth exploring if you like history and urban decay (should the tourism office also mention the numerous strip bars around to drain more visitors to the neighbourhood?).
Right below the Butte Sainte-Anne, by the former granite quarry, there is some great street art on some crumbling wall sections. I like the idea that someone took the time to make an old stretch of wall nicer, without expecting anything in return. Graffiti can be really artistic and colourful!
We also discovered a completely new neighborhood behind the SNCF train station, on the tip of the Ile de Nantes, right before Malakoff. Back when I was a kid in Nantes, this area was pretty ghetto-ish and was known as “the projects”. It’s still an immigrant neighborhood—you can tell by the lack of shops and convenient transportation to the city core—but it’s much nicer than it used to be, and much more modern too. The high-rise blocks of subsidized housing apartments looked bright and new, and even though most French would rather live in a classic historic building, I have no doubt these places are quite comfortable.
Constructions of more housing projects, both fancy condos and social housing, seemed halted though—maybe another effect of the economic downturn?
You can see all the pictures taken in Nantes on Flickr.