Destination: Nantes, France


Concluding my Easter (and birthday) vacation last weekend, my final stop was in Nantes, France!

While not actually in the Brittany region (actually in that of Pays de la Loire), it was not too far from Rennes, about an hour’s drive without traffic. The reason that I chose to visit wasn’t because I had heard that it was a beautiful place (in fact, I hadn’t known much about it at all before going), but rather the fact that one of my French professors from college came from there, and so I was *sort of* paying tribute to that. Might as well, eh? 😛

Any case, I left Rennes in the afternoon, after saying goodbye to my Couchsurfing host and thanking him for the two-night stay. I took the metro over to the meeting point of my BlaBlaCar rendezvous, met my driver, and was off to Nantes at 14h30. Arrived around an hour later at the outskirts of the city center, where I took the tram over to my Couchsurfing hosts’ place, located in a quiet, town-house kind of neighborhood, which was very pleasant. The fact that I saw individual houses and town houses in that area was quite a new experience for me, since so far in many cities that I’ve been to in France (let alone Europe), it has been nothing but apartments, really. Exceptions are the small towns like the one that I live in (where there’s more space and less people to build actual houses), but for a big city like Nantes, it was rather surprising.

I arrived at my Couchsurfing hosts’ house, and they greeted me warmly. That was the first time that I was staying with a Couchsurfing couple (a man and a woman; let’s call them Fred and Kate, respectively). They also weren’t French, but rather New-Zealanders who were, like me, teaching English in France. So we ended up speaking English during my stay with them (we did a little in French, but perhaps ten percent of the time). 😛

We spent the next two to three hours just talking, getting to know each other and whatnot. Super friendly couple, especially Fred, who was loud, opinionated, and super jolly; Kate was a bit more reserved, but equally cheerful as well. I hate to admit it, but it was quite nice to be speaking English with Anglophones again, especially after speaking French in Brittany and through my BlaBlaCar rides (’cause speaking in a foreign language is exhausting, and I am at that period again when I’m not really confident in my French-speaking skills. I swear, it comes and goes in waves…). And we had plenty of stimulating conversations, about politics, French culture, and general differences between New Zealand and the United States (Fred and Kate were very interested in learning about U.S. culture, asking me questions about its school system, politics, and so forth).

Eventually, we had dinner (that was the time when daylight savings went into effect, and so it was still light outside at 19h00!), which consisted of pizza, minestrone soup, and bread and butter. Even helped roll out the dough for Kate, who made the pizza. Good stuff, and afterwards I watched a bit of Community with them (awesome show, by the way; it had been a long while since I had watched it) before showering and turning in for the night. Slept in their French roommate’s room, since it was offered to me and that the roommate was out for the night, anyway.

I woke up the next day around 8h50, and had breakfast with the hosts. Kate made some pretty good zucchini fritters and around 11h30 or so, we left to take the tram to the city center, so that I could see a bit of Nantes before I left (I was only staying one night with them, leaving at 14h00 that day to return to Normandy). Basically spent about an hour, an hour and a half in the center of Nantes, since there wasn’t much time, but I was able to see the nice, cobblestone streets, the canal, the Château des ducs de Bretagne (a castle), and the cathedral. Unfortunately, it was Easter that day, and so les Machines de l’île, an art exhibition, was not opened. Was quite interested in seeing the large elephant machine, but oh well…next time. 😦

Château des ducs de Bretagne.
Château des ducs de Bretagne.
Inside the château.
Inside the château.
Along the canal.
Along the canal.
Nantes Cathedral.
Nantes Cathedral.
The streets of Nantes.
The streets of Nantes.

Bought some food at a boulangerie (surprisingly, there were a lot of places opened in the city center on Easter!) for the road, and took the tram over to the meeting point with my BlaBlaCar driver. Kate took the same tram as me, but got off at an earlier stop. Thanked her (as well as Fred, who was at home) for the brief, but fun stay.

Got my BlaBlaCar ride at 14h00, and arrived at Rennes around 15h00. Had a 30-minute gap between the previous ride and the next one back to Normandy. Got my next BlaBlaCar ride at 15h30, and was off! There was traffic along the highway near Caen (as usual; didn’t help that people were also coming back from the Easter weekend, either), but in any case, I was fortunate enough that my BlaBlaCar driver dropped me off exactly in front of my flat (as it was one of the stopping points along his journey) around 19h30. I was finally back in the comforts of my living space…ahhh…

That concludes my long weekend in Brittany and Nantes! Overall, I found it to be quite nice; even though it was rainy and windy, I was surprisingly not incredibly bothered by it- perhaps living in Normandy, with similar weather, has made me accustomed to it!

More travel adventures to come! Look out for them soon. 🙂

— The Finicky Cynic

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