“Oh, a plane!”
“Wow, this one is flying low…”
“Oh, regarde l’avion!”
You can tell tourists from locals in Nantes just by the way newcomers look up when they hear the sound of aircraft engines roaring in the sky. Nantais are used to them. The first time, you look up and you marvel at the fact you can almost read the name of the company on the wings. The second time, you pause. The third time, you just keep on smoking your cigarette. Even Mark doesn’t look up anymore.
There have been talks of building a new airport further from the city for years, but the project is controversial—there is even a camp occupying the site. Apparently, despite legal orders to suspend it following long-running protests, construction will start next year. Local authorities claim the current airport is at full capacity, and it certainly seems so considering the number of planes flying above the city. Others claim that planes are told to fly above the downtown core just to annoy people and push for a new airport…
Nantes is also connected to the rest of the country by an extensive train network, including the famous high-speed TGV (only a two-hour ride to Paris!). Train tracks just outside the city offer a gritty scenery—giant scars punctuated by wires and posts with huge metal monsters going full speed.
The rest of the time, in the city, we spend our time walking on bridges across the Loire River, including the new Tabarly Bridge. People tend to walk or take the tramway because driving is inconvenient and parking is difficult (both from a technical and financial point of view). And honestly, Nantes is best explored on foot!