Palais de Justice

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“Justice palace”, this is how French call courthouses. The junior high/ high school I attended for 6 years from age 12 to 18 was located in the center of Nantes, stuck between the main courthouse, the police station and the jail where suspects were held by the police before their trial. The Banque de France was in a nearby street and the back of the building was facing our schoolyard. Many of us joked that we should just find a way to the Banque de France and lay hands on a few thousand crisp banknotes. Tales of digging tunnels to the bank kept us busy at recess. But at the same time, the perspective of getting caught and to visit (in that order) the police station, the courthouse and the jail, prevented us of doing anything.

Now, the old-fashioned courthouse is closed and a brand new one was built in another location, on the bank of the Loire River. The building, a huge black cube, is very controversial. Many saw in it the sign that France was turning more repressive and was not living up to its “liberté — égalité — fraternité” ideals. The general consensus was that a courthouse should not look like a jail.

You can follow our French trip here on Flickr: France (2010).

Looking towards the Loire River

Reflection on the floor

Inside the palais de justice

Reflection in the windows outside



Inside the palais de justice

Salle d'audience

Behind the bars

La vérité et la justice...


About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.


  1. Is it just me or does the new Palais de Justice kind of look like the Ministry of Magic from the fifth Harry Potter movie? Maybe that’s where they got the inspiration! It definitely does look a lot more like a prison than a courthouse probably should…

  2. the palais looks different from the other buildings reflected in the windows. it’s too bad, because the architecture of nantes looks very pretty.
    justice shouldn’t look dark and forbidding. but even so, the building has a certain beauty of its own, even if a bit cold and imposing.

  3. @Agnes – Yeah I know… believe it or not, it was a good school!

    @Soleil – Does it? Ah, that’s funny! I have to see Harry Potter again now to check that.

    @khengsiong – This is in Nantes.

    @Rich B – Oh, an American with French culture – love it! 🙂 And no, I’m not being sarcastic 😉

    @Seraphine – It is certainly unique, although there is no way I could work there – too depressing!

    @Nigel – I relaly don,t know what they had in mind!

  4. Ah! A little trip to Nantes. I haven’t been to that place I no longer call home for quite a while but each time I go back I find the city transformed.
    I guess by your description that you went to Jules Verne, so did I, although I probably finished when you started…

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