Second day in Nantes, our only full day.
Saturday, February 11 2017
Nantes, part 2/3
Our plan for the second day in Nantes was to do some shopping and visit the castle, and see what else on the day itself. So obviously we slept in a little before showering, getting ready and having breakfast (we had a breakfast included hotel stay). The breakfast in the hotel was actually pretty nice. Sure, the seating space was limited, but we found a table for two. Even though the buffet was small, it was really varied, they even had gluten free options, featuring savoury and sweet things (even cakes), bread rolls, pastries, cold cuts, cheeses, fruit, cereal and a variety of drinks. There was definitely enough choice and you could definitely eat enough not to be hungry 'till lunch time.
Having eaten, we set out to go to the castle, taking some photos along the way,
and popping in Les Galeries Lafayette when we passed it by. I did see some things I wanted to buy, but I figured I'd come back for them later. I did ooh and aaah over several things in the Disney Store, especially as it was the last week of sales in French and there were some serious reductions going on, but in the end I decided to be smart and not buy stuff just because it was pretty and on sale, as I wouldn't actually do anything with it.
The castle is actually pretty cool. Le Château des Ducs de Bretagne (the dukes of Brittany castle) has been completely restored and remodelled on the inside to be a museum depicting the history of Nantes. Not just the nice and fluffy bits, but also the dodgy dark parts including slavery and WW2.
It was really well set up, and it was cool to see it go from clockpunk, into steampunk into dieselpunk eras. With a lot of parts on display that nicely fit into the styles too. And we found out that LU is not a Belgian brand of biscuits, but in fact a French one, from Nantes. But they do have a factory in Belgium AND dinosaur cookies were originally Belgium only (they were released back in 1992 as an edible homage to the opening of the first dinosaur section of the Natural History Museum). So there you go.
We both really liked the castle. You only have to pay entrance to access the museum, but you can access the entire outer walls and the court yard for free.
And of course everyone can go into the shop as well. I didn't buy much, just a souvenir coin and ...a copy of Jules Verne's Around the World in 80 Days. In French, which I didn’t have already. It's the super pretty edition from a few years ago as well, for an anniversary of his death, they re-released most of his oeuvre in France, with an updated version (as in: not linen but otherwise the same) of the original covers. I found the special edition box of 20,000 Leagues in Amiens last year, but I hadn't been able to get my hands on 80 Days, so understandably, I was thrilled to find it and I grabbed whilst I could :D. I also bought a postcard for Nick, which I still haven't sent.
Here, Nick, have a scan so you can at least see what it looks like!
Because the weather was really nice, we decided to have lunch (which we had brought in our backpacks, we had bought lunch at Monop the day before) at one of the picnic tables on the castle walkway. And you know, they have pigeons in Nantes, but they are actually really well behaved. Here they can be quite brazen if you feed one or two of them, but there they just showed up and patiently waited a few meters away from you 'till you threw food at them. Very civilised I thought.
Back out in the street outside the castle we saw the tourist office, so popped inside to see what was interesting. With still some time left in Nantes, it could have been good. We did consider visiting the Japanese garden, but decided the against it, not because it was a half an hour walk, but because we figured it wouldn't be at it's full potential in winter. Seeing we're going back for the unveiling of the heron tree at Les Machines in a few years anyway, in summer, we decided to wait 'till then instead. I did pick up a few free handy maps and flyers as souvenirs. Because, why not right?
It was actually later than we thought it was when we got out of the tourist office (we weren't in there long, but we spent ages in the castle) we decided that with so few hours left in the day, we'd just visit the cathedral and stick to shopping.
Because we knew where it was (just follow the signs), we decided to visit the cathedral. Which was pretty disappointing to be honest. Normally a cathedral is well worth it for the architecture and art, but this one was just a building with really bog standard church bits and bobs and butt ugly stained glass windows. I hadn't expected it to be as amazing and awesome as the cathedral of Amiens, or even Carolus Borromeus church in Antwerp, but this was utterly underwhelming.
We went back to Galeries Lafayette and got the cookies I wanted to get, as well as travel jars (of course, now they sell those EVERYWHERE, but back in February, that was the first place where I saw them other than M.A.C. In a “travel jars only” kinda deal I mean.) I also discovered a big The Balm counter, so we lost half an hour easy, with me looking at stuff and swatching it. I didn't end up getting anything, because I didn't love anything enough, and when I did, it was basically a dupe of things I already own. So no need to spend money on that, really.
The day before we had discovered there was a little steampunk store not too far from our hotel. It was closed that day, but we knew it'd be open now, so we went and had a look. It was very quaint and nice, but they didn't sell anything I really wanted, so I didn't buy anything. I did take a photo of the shop, of course!
We did, entirely by accident, come across the other Sephora store in town (which is like 2 streets away from the other one) and I went in, wanting to buy another stinky panda eye stick (it doesn't smell nice) because it is just so damn awesome. So I wanted a spare. I also ended up getting a Benefit Roller Lash mascara in travel size, because everyone hypes over it (I don't see why, it irritates my eyes! The wand is great though, but I can't stand the product), as well as a spare for my favourite red lipstick, which is by Sephora. The French one doesn't contain parabens or MIT, the US one does contain parabens. Vive la France!
I also found a little double eye shadow single for Lora, with two greens. It was a limited edition one in a sales basket, but exactly what I was looking to get her. So yay! :) (and she likes it tons, so huzzah!).
Obviously, I used my other coupon. I hadn't actually brought it with me, but Sephora has your coupons programmed on your card, so that's no matter, they can still give you your discount if you have your card on you (I must say, I really do love my Sephora Black card!).
Afterwards we wandered some more and went to Monop again to get food for the next day. On Sunday, much like in Belgium, nearly everything is closed in Nantes, so if we wanted to find food for sure, now was the time.
We also ended up getting a bunch of cookies for people back home, three bags of Haribo CrocoPik!, a can of wet food for Loa and a can of green beans for Shinto.
And chips/crisps in a Darth Vader bag.
Because we still wanted to go for dinner, and didn't want to lug a full shopping bag about (I had bought a shopper because it was cheap [€1,50], huge and had a cool tag line, so perfect to take to painting class and stuff all my stuff in there :D) around. So we dropped our shopping off in the room, and went for food.
We had seen a steakhouse wandering up to Les Machines the day before, so we wanted to have dinner there (for they had burgers). Because it was still a little time 'till the shops closed, we decided to have a look in Natures et Decouvertes in the Passage Pommeraye (very crowded, still nice, didn't buy anything) and in FNAC (where we also didn't buy anything).
What was a little disturbing, at least we thought it was, was that there was a LOT of law enforcements in the streets all of the sudden. And a black hawk helicopter was literally hovering for AGES above the city centre. We figured it was because of the riots in Paris, and the fact that there had been unrest in Nantes the week before. No one around us seemed to give a damn about it, and so we ignored it even though it was rather disconcerting.
Turned out the steakhouse didn't open 'till 7pm (?! dahell) so we went back to Les Machines to have a drink in their café (where we, by luck, had the last available table when we wandered in), where it was cozy and warm. We also popped in the shop to browse one more time. I ended up buying this beautiful notebook with vintage Japan themed art all throughout it. It was only € 6 too, which is a bargain for something like that.
By the time we got back to the steakhouse, it was open. I got a cheeseburger and Bert got a steak. My burger was fine, but his steak was more like a burnt sole than a steak XD.
It turned out to be one of those really turn around places, where they basically want you to pay and leave the second you are done eating. Which wasn't that cool, but eh, it was what it was (this is also the reason why Bert and I don't eat at Da Giovanni in Antwerp btw).
Because by the time we left, everything was closed, and we didn't really know anywhere to have drinks (bar Les Machines's café, which closed at 8PM), we decided to go back to the hotel, have some drinks in our room, eat some chips/crisp, watch Netflix and go to bed in time.
All my photos of Nantes are here.
Part 1 of our trip is here.