Harold is loving Nantes! Except for the evening rainstorm that is happening right now outside our window, the weather has been lovely; warm enough to seek shade for an afternoon aperitif, cool enough to be comfortable for stuffties accustomed to Monterey summers.
Nantes is an ancient city, defended by the locals when Julius Ceasar’s troops showed up in the olden days. Of course, Caesar won, and the city became one of the most important import/export towns for hundreds of years. Jules Verne, father of all science fiction, was born here. The city’s cathedrals and ancient stone walls tell of this long and storied history, while its current development speaks to something else: sustainability.
Nantes has been awarded the International Green City award for 2013. Because of its dedication to public transport, in the form of rental bicycles, buses and trams, and even taxi- boats, it has lowered its emissions to near record levels for a European city. The city center is very tightly packed and walk able, with many buildings being multi-use, residential and business.
In many ways, Nantes feels like Portland, Oregon. It is an important shipping port that’s not actually on the ocean ( the river Loire is the connection); it is dedicated to using sustainable energy sources. Local produce is wonderful and featured in most of the restaurants, as well as sold for low prices in the markets. Bioswales, which we first saw in Portland, are here in a big way; along the Erdre River, which partly flows through tunnels now, are willow branch structures and plantings designed to filter street run-off before it goes to the river.
Although there aren’t many other stuffties here (Harold keeps his eyes open, you can bet!) it still is a very pleasant place. Harold and his people are having a sweet old time.
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