I was flying to a city called Nantes, where my meetings were on Tuesday morning. Well about ½ an hour outside of Nantes, but close enough. There were no direct flights, so I had to fly through Brussels. My connection was tight, and I almost didn’t make it. My flight was actually already boarding when we landed, and when I got off the plane the signage in the airport said it was a 23 minute walk from the gate we arrived at, to the one I needed to get to. And, for whatever reason, I had to go back through security and clear customs. No idea why – one of my pet peeves with European airports.
It did end up being almost half an hour, and I was the last one on the plane, but I made it. It was about 11:00 by the time the taxi dropped me off at my hotel in downtown Nantes. By far the worst hotel of my trip as well, but what can you do? I was exhausted, and didn’t really have the energy to go exploring.
I got up early and went for a run on Tuesday morning. As much to explore a little bit as anything. There’s an old castle right near the hotel, which I planned to explore after our meetings. I met one of our sales guys at the train station, and one of our partner’s employees picked us up for the drive out to their office. It was about half an hour, and we were there early, ahead of our 10:00 start time.
I did a full day of training with their team, and we ended up wrapping up at 4:00 p.m. – another very full day. Daniele and I took the train back to Nantes after the meetings, and I was back at the hotel by about 5:00. That gave me a few hours to explore the city.
Right next to my hotel was this beautiful little city park, and so I spent some time wandering. They had this interesting theme of clay pots, and had a whole series of different displays set-up, using pots in interesting ways.
There were also some interesting birds in the park, but I had the wrong camera with me to get any really good shots. I only spent half an hour or so in the park, but it was quite relaxing and enjoyable.
I then headed back to the castle – Château des ducs de Bretagne (Castle of the Dukes of Brittany), which was the residence of the Dukes of Brittany between the 13th and 16th centuries, subsequently becoming the Breton residence of the French Monarchy.
I didn’t go into the paid part of this one, but wandered around outside a little bit. It was pretty cool – nothing like Carcassonne, but impressive nonetheless. From there, I wandered a few blocks up the street to the main cathedral. I didn’t go in, but admired it from the outside, and stopped at a local pub for a drink.
After that, there wasn’t really much specific – I just kind of wandered the old part of the city, checking things out. It is a pretty typical European city – lots of narrow, winding streets, cool little cafes and restaurants, and lots of things to see.
One of the most interesting was a shopping mall – but not your typical mall. The Passage Pommeraye is a small shopping mall named after its property developer, Louis Pommeraye. Construction started at the end of 1840 and was completed on 4 July 1843. The Passage Pommeraye is a passage between two streets, the rue Santeuil and rue de la Fosse, with one 9.40 m higher than the other. Midway, there is a flight of steps and the mall then continues on another floor. It was quite beautiful, and while I didn’t go into any of the shops, I did very much enjoy the architecture of the building.
Eventually, I made my way back to the part of the old city close to the castle and picked a local spot to stop and have some dinner. It was nice to sit on an outdoor patio, have some food and a drink and just relax, after what had been quite a long day. I made one last stop at the Château des ducs de Bretagne, as the light was making everything glow pink. it was very cool.
Wednesday I was up very early, as my first flight was at 6:40 a.m., from Nantes to Lyon. From there I had another connect to Frankfurt, before the long flight home to Vancouver. I was pretty wiped by the time I got home, but very happy to be back.