Travelling is one of the best ways to broaden your horizons. It encourages people to see new perspectives and embrace different cultures. When I travel, I find myself interested in exploring the pop culture identity of a new place. Recently, I travelled to Nantes and saw a wide range of geeky goodness. Situated in the Loire Valley, Nantes is a sci-fi hub of the world. I’ve put together a pop culture guide for anyone who’s interested in visiting.
Les Machines De L’ile
Nantes is the birthplace of Jules Verne and he’s considered to be one of the founding fathers of science fiction. His novels are filled with wonderful creations such as the Nautilus submarine. Les Machines D L’ile has brought Verne’s machines to life in vivid detail. The Machine Island is a must-see for steampunk fans because it features a cavalcade of cogs, brass and Victorian designs.
The Machine Gallery contains a variety of steampunk animals, from a mechanised spider to a giant hummingbird. The gallery doubles as a workshop, as the staff are working on a new exhibition called the Heron Tree. Set for 2021, the exhibit will feature giant steampunk herons that will fly visitors around. I got to be carried around by one of the herons and the experience was a true delight!
The island’s main attraction is the Grand Elephant, a majestic machine that can carry up to 50 people. The design was inspired by Verne’s novel The Steam House, which featured a steam-powered elephant. Having ridden the behemoth, I can tell you it’s an amazing experience.
If you’re looking for a place to shop for pop culture statues and memorabilia, then you’ll want to head over to Geek Store. Found near the Place Du Commerce, the shop is marked by a giant Batman statue in the window. Walk inside and you’ll find shelves stacked with Funko Pop figures. In addition, the shop sells t-shirts, mugs and board games.
Geek Store caters to comic, anime and manga fandoms, so there’s something for everyone. The shop doesn’t sell comics, as I discovered when talking to the staff. The guy at the counter was friendly and happy to point me in the right direction.
A Plein Reves
For anyone who wants to buy comics then you’re best bet is to head over to A Plein Reves. The shop features a great mix of English and French graphic novels, so you’re bound to find what you’re searching for. The shop has mainstream and indie titles, adding to the variety. The shop also sells figurines and other merchandise. Best of all, the prices are reasonable, meaning you could buy three or four graphic novels and it wouldn’t set you back.
Jules Verne Museum
Steampunk fans should check out the Jules Verne Museum, as it celebrates the life of one of history’s most influential writers. The museum can be found inside a 19th century building that overlooks the Loire River. Inside you’ll find a collection of artefacts and invention replicas from Verne’s novels. The museum is split up into different themes, such as the drawing room, which contains china that Verne received as gifts from foreign writers.
Nantes is an ideal city for pop culture geeks. If you have any travel recommendations for comic fans then I’d love to hear your thoughts!