France and Portugal Vacation: 3 May 2023 - A Day in Nantes


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Wednesday, May 3 - A Day in Nantes

Ginger always wants breakfast included at European hotels, and this trip was no different. The Hôtel Mercure's buffet breakfast didn't disappoint: after getting up around 7:00, we got downstairs around 8:00 to a spread of hot and cold dishes, yogurts, cheeses, breads, sliced meats, and coffee and tea, all served in a beautiful, pick-your-own-table casual style lounge.

Photos from Wednesday morning (8 images)

One drawback of our budget mobile phone carrier at home is that their network doesn't have service outside North America, so we decided just to go without talk/text/mobile while in Europe rather than trying to buy sim cards, pre-paid phones, etc. We did make use of Google Maps' "offline" maps feature, though, downloading maps of our cities while on wi-fi at the hotel and using them offline as we walked around – this plan worked pretty well!

It was decided we'd meet Michel and Monique again in Place Royale at noon, so we had the morning to ourselves. We started with a stroll of the city including a free entry visit to the Château de Ducs de Bretagne. Free entry includes the ability to walk all the way around the base of the castle (what was likely the moat) as well as a complete circuit of the upper ramparts and the grounds inside the walls.

Photos from the Château (57 images)

From the castle, we walked North, past the city's cathedral, Cathédrale Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul de Nantes. It was closed for renovation, but is impressive from the outside. After stopping at the art store Rougier & Plé, we strolled through the parks surrounding the Feydeau area, including Square Jean-Baptiste Daviais. Walking through Cours Cambronne, we saw the open air art installation of multiple stations of three black and white photos or descriptions on boards placed in triangular formations. We continued on to Place Graslin, passing the famous La Cigale restaurant, a Nantes restaurant of iconic renown, then shopped our way through the Passage Pommeraye. After exchanging some US dollars for euros at Change Graslin in Place Royale, we met Michel and Monique, who took us on a bit more of a walk through the city, since the only parking spot Monique had found was a short distance away.

Photos from Wednesday mid-day (41 images)

For lunch, Monique had prepared a roast bird called a pintade, a Guineafowl and relative of the turkey, served with a light brown sauce with soaked raisins. Monique also served baguette slices with foie gras, salad, cooked peas and carrots, and for dessert fresh strawberry sherbet from Pornic and wafer cookies. Conversation was long and welcome, catching up on how life had been treating everyone since Ginger had last been in touch with Michel and Monique.

Ginger wanted to visit the botanic garden (Parc de la Gaudinière) near their house, so we set out on a stroll with Michel... not knowing it would turn into a 3+ hour excursion! We hiked through the park and then down a couple of roads to the entrance to something of a nature walk, a pathway following a small river, Le Cens, which was beautiful but exhausting! At least it wasn't too hot! By the time Monique picked us up, it was about 7:00 pm, and back at their house while she prepared a light dinner, we passed out on the couch and lounge chairs for a nap!

Dinner was delicious, like all French meals! Monique made gallettes (similar to crêpes but made with buckwheat instead of flour) filled with ham, cheese, and egg. The standard salad and bread were also served along with chocolate pudding cups for dessert. More conversation ensued, ending with us being dropped off near the hotel after exchanging hugs and words of thanks for everything.

Photos from our time with Michel and Monique (25 images)

On to the next day >