Once a busy seaport in the estuary of the Loire, the fascinating city of Nantes was chosen in the old times by the dukes of Brittany as their historical capital. If the city still boasts a unique architectural heritage with its magnificent Château des ducs de Bretagne, a Renaissance-style castle nestled in a fortress, a medieval quarter and one of the highest cathedrals of France - it has been transformed in the last 20 years probably more than any other city in France. It is not only a vibrant and young metropolis often rewarded for its top-quality of life –Nantes was also Green Capital of Europe in 2013 – but a city where art has literally been integrated in all possible aspects, making it a true example of how artists can turn a city upside down!
The Nantes-born writer Jules Verne would most likely not believe how creativity has made its way in Nantes: from narrow streets to boulevards, walk along the 15-kilometre long green trail, literally painted on the ground to enable visitors not to get lost, and you will be amazed by an incredible diversity of styles, atmospheres and artworks. From 19th century Passage Pommeraye covered with an impressive glass-roof to the 20th design icon Station Prouvé; from the new Court House built by Jean Nouvel to the 18 gigantic rings of Daniel Buren (les anneaux!) displayed along the lively Quai des Antilles, on the banks of the Loire; and up to Le Nid, the panoramic terrace of the 32-floor high Tour de Bretagne, everything in Nantes is about transforming landscapes and visions into art. In which other city can you also ride a mechanical Elephant or a marine creature in a 35-metre high merry-go-round?
In Nantes, culture and art are contributing factors of cohesion, and creativity a tool for economic leverage. It does not only make inhabitants proud of their city, but make them feel actors of all changes, and ambassadors of Nantes’ spirit. And when it comes to culture, Nantes is among the first in France in terms of budget spending. It also hosts an increasing number of artists, and theatre troops like the world famous Royal de Luxe.
Le Voyage . Nantes - www.levoyageanantes.fr
The cultural project Le Voyage à Nantes not only encourages art and culture in the city, but invites every summer artists from all over the world to use Nantes as a playground for their creativity.
2017 has been rubber-stamped as the year of art with two major events; the re-opening of the art museum (June) and the Voyage à Nantes Event (July and August).
The Musée d’arts will reopen on the 23rd June 2017. Steered by the Stanton-Williams Agency (Royal National Theatre, Tower of London, Belgrade Theatre, etc…), it will house a total of 17,000 m2, several exhibition halls and an auditorium. In fact along with Grenoble, it is the only one outside of Paris able to present such an extensive and broad panorama of art stretching from the thirteenth to the twenty-first century. It has 10,000 works of art (paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints and contemporary installations), and several hundred masterpieces painted by De la Tour, Ingres, Courbet, Chagall, Kandinsky, Picasso...
Le Voyage à Nantes : 6th edition 1st-27th August :
Each summer the event brings the eponymous sensitive and poetic urban trail to life. Artists, designers, gardeners, cooks, DJs and graffiti artists are invited to express their creativity in public spaces. With 40 amazing steps to link up the whole cultural package, the town goes a little bit further off-beat than normal. Must see: the ephemeral installations, the works of art. Must experience: the places where it’s good to meet, coming together unexpectedly. Must try: the local produce grown in town centre vegetable gardens.
In the HAB Galerie: DANIEL DEWAR AND GREGORY GICQUEL
FROM 1ST JULY TO 1ST OCTOBER
Clay modelling, wood carving, stone cutting, tapestry, silk painting, ceramics ...the craftsmanship of the artists Dewar and Gicquel are happy to take on all these materials…as long as it is a sculpture to be experimented on. Continuing their re-reading of the history of art through pop imagery, the duo takes over the HAB Galerie in the manner of a non-classical (!) gallery of sculptures.
Estuaire Nantes–Saint-Nazaire - www.estuaire.info
Art and landscape. The Estuaire project, also run by Le Voyage à Nantes, is a unique collection of 30 artworks created by internationally renowned artists that enables visitors to discover the Estuary of the Loire and its diversity of landscapes, by boat, by car or bicycle. All along the 60 kilometre stretch of the estuary, between Nantes and the Atlantic port of Saint-Nazaire, the 30 artworks make this trail an absolutely original experience, and magnify a particular natural setting or landscape. The result is an unexpected combination of realizations and installations, like the Villa Cheminée of Tatzu Nishi, which seems to play with a neighbouring colossal power plant; or the Serpent d’Océan, a gigantic aluminium snake skeleton from Huang Yong Ping surging out of the sea, playing with the tides; and even the largest painting of Felice Varini, spreading over a 2 kilometre-long line that can be seen from a view point of a roof terrace located in the port of Saint-Nazaire.