I’m not going to lie. Last week took it out of me. Between the parties and insomnia, the socializing and the French lessons, and a perfect little shitstorm that erupted at the office Friday night, I was fried. The fatigue and emotional depletion almost took the joy out of my visit to Nantes. But in the end, there was just too much magic and inspiration in this little city.
The first sign that I still had a pulse was the happiness that spread from my taste buds to my toes when I found Maison Baron-Lefèvre and indulged in a leisurely three-course lunch. It started with a wonderful warm veggie salad with a perfectly poached egg.
For le plat principal, I had the cabillaud with leeks and tomatoes. A glass of Anjou and some fine bread complemented the meal.
Dessert was a pear crumble, served atop custard and beneath deliciously creamy vanilla bean ice cream.
The bill was served with regional cookies and a spot of Michel Cluizel chocolate. Too much!
The restaurant was adorable and decorated for fall in a way I’d expect back home, but, for some reason, not here.
Later in the day, I fell in love with the Musée des Beaux Arts. There was a super cool Brassai exhibition and I practically had the permanent collection to myself.
What an incredible collection of classics and new discoveries (Courbet, Kandinsky, Rousseau, Metzinger) and absolutely stunning architecture.
Sunday morning, I made my way to the Talensac Marché—as seemingly every local did, too—and which just might be the largest and best market I’ve been to yet.
Lots of seafood, as one would imagine in a town this near the Atlantic Coast.
Ohhh… my favorites! Dahlias.
And beyond the usual produce, meats, cheeses and flowers, there were sweet little finds like fresh pear juice and eggs.
Throughout the city, there is this wonderful blend of classic and pastoral architecture, along with contemporary buildings.
But the coup de coeur was La Galerie des Machines. Housed in an old hangar, a team of engineers, artists, builders and other incredible minds has constructed animal sculptures from the deep sea.
Imagine going to the Museum of Natural History and seeing all those old, gigantic skeletons come to life. And you could climb aboard and ride around in them.
There is also a 40-foot-tall, 45-ton hydraulic elephant that you can ride around in. I was so devastated that he was out of commission over the weekend—back on his feet this Friday. The models were cool enough.
Finally, before boarding my 6 o’clock train back to Paris, I cruised through the Jardin des Plantes. Another gem of beauty and wonder—one that I almost skipped.
Thank goodness I didn’t.