It’s hot in Nantes right now. I’m not complaining about it, I love it. But for Feng and Mark who are used to air con—and the beach or a swimming pool when we travel—it’s a bit too hot.
French don’t use the air con as much as North Americans or like in a few Asian countries. This is the old world. We don’t rely on technology. If it’s hot, we drink and open the windows.
Fountain play is also a thing.
Not all fountains are clean and I don’t recommend taking a dip with your swimsuit on, especially if you’re older than ten (you will draw strange looks from locals). The key is to get soaked, not take a bath in the fountain—this is a major difference. I mean, public water fountains aren’t clean, silly you.
In Downtown Nantes, the most famous fountain is probably the one Place Royale. Built in 1865, the three-level fountain symbolizes Nantes’ connection with the four local rivers (Erdre, Cher, Loiret and Sèvre) and the Atlantic Ocean. This fountain has always been a gathering point for demonstrations and public parties. This year, as part of the yearly art project “Journey to Nantes,” artist Michel Blazy and the engineer in charge of maintenance altered the way the fountain works, so if you’re walking or standing nearby, you may be sprayed by a jet of water. It’s actually pretty funny and it’s a good way to cool off, although you may have to stand around for a few minutes before being hit by a random jet.
The water mirror by the Château des Ducs is a two-centimetre deep pool reflecting the castle—or a fountain with 32 vertical jets (depends on the time of the day!) This spot is always packed in the summer and it’s very popular with kids because it’s basically a shallow artsy splash pad.
Finally, in the posh Place Graslin, right in front of Nantes’ most famous French restaurant and the opera, there’s a new fountain built in 2013.
I don’t think you’re supposed to play in that one.
Unless your mom decides to throw you into the fountain.
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