“La Cigale!” was the very first thing out of everyone’s mouths when I was compiling a Nantes to-do list. Everyone mentioned the celebrated brasserie with sparkles in their eyes. And I was instantly enamored by this powerhouse, Art Nouveau brasserie : the warm woodwork, the mosaic lobsters on the walls, the uniformed garçons and the overall theatrics of fine dining. I was easily tempted by the complete prix fixe menu at a cool 17 euros (cold zucchini and mascarpone soup, onglet, et crème brûlée). But my dining companion, also known as mon mari, ordered maquereaux marinés, marinated mackerel, off the menu. And I have been thinking of it ever since. And it looked a little something like this…
In attempt to milk every sweet moment of les vacances before la rentree, I tagged along on mon mari’s business trip. And this time around, Nantes is my oyster! Oh shucks.
Late last night we checked into the très design La Perouse Hotel. Considering our last hotel had seahorses on the walls, this ecologically responsible boutique hotel requires a little bit more than my humble liberal arts education to navigate. There is no line that defines where the shower begins and where the wet floor ends. And before I hopped out of bed in anticipation for the organic continental breakfast, I pondered “Why is there an ice-cube tray on the wall?” By George, it just so happens to be a fancy, fancy design lamp! After circling a few sights on my map with a complimentary biodegradable pen, I was off! And the colorful discoveries were many…
Ifthe Seine is to Paris what the Loire is to Nantes, surrounded by water is île de Nantes, an island just South of the city center.La Machine, a monumental collaborative production company has evolved with the urbanization of île de Nantes since the company’s creation in 1999. And La Machine’s fantasy land of enormous puppets and installations create a surreal participatory amusement park. Le Carrousel de Mondes Marins, a three-story carousel christened in July, takes La Machine’s ingenuity under the sea. Crab claws can pinch, fins can flap, boats can steam, no detail is spared on this mesmerizing whirlwind for any age.
Additionally, watch your step! 3 times the size of the real deal, La Machine’s elephant casts like a ship delivering passengers between the museum and the carousel.
Thankfully open to the public, the best part was taking a peek into the magic of La Machine’s workshops where artists, designers, and technicians painstakingly collaborate and craft. 5 cows were spared in the creation of each of those elephant’s ears!
After a coffee and an impulse buy (Guillaume Long’s brilliant food comic and cookbook A boire et à manger) at Le Lieu Unique, I explored the immense contemporary arts space converted from the LU biscuit factory.
Finally, here is a little second-hand stained glass from the Gothic Cathédrale Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul de Nantes.
Nantes by night, here I come! La Cigale is already on the books, but what should I see tomorrow?