When I was a teen, I just couldn’t wait to leave Nantes. I had lived my entire life in the city’s downtown core and I was sick and tired of walking the same streets, shopping in the same stores and hanging out with the same people. Nantes is a sizeable city—the 6th largest in France, actually—but it has a small-town feel. I guess it can be a good thing, but when you are a teen, it’s not. I felt like I was suffocating. The day I graduated from high school, I felt a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I was free!
I wanted to see the world and I did. And now, I can look back and appreciate Nantes for what it is—a lovely city, really. I still wouldn’t live there again for many reasons, but visiting as a tourist feels great. Nantes is relaxing, pretty, affordable for a French city, artsy and historic, easily walkable, and has a lot of free tourist spots. Frankly, I’d encourage anyone travelling to France to stop by—and I’m not even being patriotic here.
After resting from the crazy trip from London, Feng and I took the time to revisit all the city’s main landmarks, from the majestic Gothic Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul to the Château des Ducs de Bretagne, from the Ile de Versailles and the Jardin des plantes to the famous Ile de Nantes, with its mechanical elephant and funky art projects.
The weather was much warmer than in London and it felt right to be in a familiar place. Being a tourist in my hometown is no longer strange or disturbing—it’s natural.