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Venice of the West

Venice of the West

Located at the confluence of rivers Loire, Erdre and Sèvre, picturesque Nantes was chosen as the European Union’s ‘Green Capital of 2013’.

Picturesque Japanese Gardens at the l’île de Versailles

Picturesque Japanese Gardens at the l’île de Versailles

Green all the way… Nantes was the first city in France to reintroduce electric tramways to provide ‘green mobility’ and its wide, tree-lined roads are pedestrian and cycle-friendly. The city employs Tri’sac (a waste collection and recycling system) and Neptune Plans (an eco-friendly water management system). The development of a solar-powered eco-district is underway on the Île de Nantes, which promises to be an important milestone in the city’s sustainable architectural philosophy.Ecological Heritage… Nantes boasts countless ecological assets. These include the botanical gardens of the Jardin des Plantes, the scenic Japanese gardens at L’île de Versailles and Petite Amazonie (protected wetlands brimming with aquatic life). The Villa Déchets (Waste Villa), built entirely from recycled urban waste is one of the highlights of Nantes’ green renaissance.Le Passage Pommeraye bustling with shoppers

Le Passage Pommeraye bustling with shoppers

Art de Vivre…  Over the years, Nantes has evolved from a quaint town into a cultural metropolis. Le Passage Pommeraye is a renaissance-style structure that has been transformed into a shopping mall, while Rue du Château is lined with upmarket boutiques and cafés. Exhibitions are held throughout the city, and this year’s highlights included Machines de l’Ile, a striking display of animatronics based on the novels of Jules Verne (who was born in Nantes, and whose memorabilia is showcased at the Jules Verne Museum) and Aéroflorale II, a ‘flying greenhouse’. The recently restored Castle of the Dukes of Brittany houses the Nantes History Museum which is a major attraction.

A taste of Nantes… The cuisine of Nantes primarily includes vegetables and seafood (mussels and Loire fish are a specialty), topped with Beurre Blanc sauce and the delectable Gateau Nantais. Most Cordon Bleu restaurants use organically grown produce, sold at Le Marché Talensac, the town market.

In a nutshell… Nantes is an enterprising, futuristic city, with traffic-free boulevards, magnolia-filled squares and plenty of tourist attractions, making it an ideal cultural – and green – destination.

– Ayesha Shaikh

First published in the Real Estate section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on December 1, 2013.