Finding Love in Nantes

Valentine’s Day is coming up and although I do not have any concrete plans, I do have valentines! They are not dreamy French men but two other IES students. I guess I’ll settle. My third valentine (I hope no one gets jealous) is my new city, Nantes! I wouldn’t say it was “le coup de foudre” (love at first sight) but more of a general feeling that has accumulated since arriving. I frequently find myself saying, “I love France,” or “I love Nantes,” for any number of reasons, although more often than not they involve food. It is hard to pinpoint exactly what it is I like most about Nantes but, in honor of Valentine’s Day, I have made a list of a few things I love about my new home.

Public Transport

In my city in the US, everyone drives everywhere. The city is more spread out so walking is also less common. But here in Nantes, I can walk many places because I live close to the center city, and I also live right next to a tram stop. The trams come so frequently during the day that I think five minutes is a long wait time. It makes me realize how much easier it is to be independent from a young age here, and how much easier it is to get out into the city and try new things!


white city train

The tram, as seen from the ramparts of the château.


Speaking of trying new things, I love the variety of activities available in Nantes. Every week there is something fun to do, be it a concert, a movie, a dance or theater performance, a museum, a new restaurant, or a sports event. I feel like I will never be bored in Nantes!


large crowd watching a five piece orchestral band placy

La Folle Journée (The Crazy Day)– a weekend-long classical music celebration held in Nantes every year

toast with roasted vegetables and cheese

My favorite restaurant, so far!


Sundays here have a very different feel than the rest of the week in France. Most businesses are closed on Sundays and people take the time to go to church or be with their families for the day. But despite the fact that there is no shopping to be done, the streets are still full of people. It is very common for families to take walks together. Sunday is truly a day to relax, repose, and spend time with family and I find that very appealing.

narrow cobblestone street lined with shops

A street in Bouffay, one of my favorite neighborhoods in Nantes



I love bread. And I love that the fact that it is customary to buy fresh bread every day, rather than buying a bag of bread for the week. I also feel obligated to try all of the pastries available at the local boulangeries. So far they have all been delicious. I don’t anticipate disliking any of them, but I think I should taste them all just to be sure.


London Center Building

Freshly baked bread at a boulangerie

The Nantais

French people have a reputation for being cold, but I have not found that to be the case at all. On more than one occasion, a stranger has struck up a conversation after hearing our accents and becoming interested in where we’re from and what we’re doing in Nantes. All of the inhabitants of my apartment building and the IES building say hello when I pass them on the stairs. And all of the French students I have met have been very friendly and welcoming.

I have now officially been in Nantes for a month and I truly love it! I am not looking forward to our inevitable breakup in May. Until then, I am enjoying every minute of our relationship.

large white ornate building

Lieu Unique– an old biscuit factory turned cultural center of Nantes


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