Friday, September 9, 2011

Photograph Scavenger Hunt Through Nantes

On August 30, 2011, three days after arriving in France, the 25 Bates students participating in the Fall Semester Abroad in Nantes were sent out to find and rephotograph scenes of downtown Nantes. Each of the five groups had five scenes to track down. Some were quite easy to recognize; others had changed dramatically. Here is a small sample of what they found and the sometimes irreverent, sometimes lyrical, reactions the visits inspired. Keep an eye out for the time-traveling Jethro Trenteetun.


From Nathalie, Maud, Leena, Raina, and Ryan

Allée du Port-Maillard from the Château des Ducs de Bretagne

Evidently, the most immediately apparent change was the road that has filled in the river since the date of the postcard. The tram line of today’s Nantes has replaced the dirt buggy roads used by horse and carriages. Another noticeable difference between these two eras is that one dome of the LU factory has disparu. The moat is a more recent edition, as it is not seen in the original photograph. Its implementation and functionality is questionable, as one would not assume medieval attackers frequent the Chateau in modern day.

Allée de Turenne

Nantes, a major European port city during the 18th century, has clearly lost a significant part of its maritime essence. The architecture of the buildings has remained relatively untouched, with the original frames, roofs, chimneys, and balconies in place. However, the canal has been replaced, yet again, with pavement. This street has become a pedestrian hub, with frequent traffic and public transportation (as well as American students dashing between vehicles).


From Lila, Daniela, Destinee, Noah, and Olivia

This was our favorite site to photograph because of the similarity between present day and the post card photograph. We used the map to look for churches that might be in the background so that we knew the general area in which to look for this building. The church steeple seen on the side is kind of eerie but also very magical.

This is the photograph that least resembles the postcard, most clearly because the waterways no longer exist in this section of the city. In relation to the Chateau museum, we found it interesting that so much of Nantes’ history relied on the river trade and was even referred to as the ‘Venice of the West’. It was also known as the largest slave trading port in France. Yet, today, the only remnants of the waterway are the buildings, which line the street of what is now the tram, and also postcards, which depict the history, such as this one!


From Maddy, Max, Kristen, Kathy, Ciara

La Place Royale

Although most of the buildings were leveled by American bombers in 1943, reconstruction following World War II meant that this central location looks much as it did in 1865 when the fountain was built. The building on the left remains the home to cafes on the first floor. It was difficult trying to locate the angle from which the original picture was taken because another corner of the square had a similar look. The defining feature was the direction in which the seated woman on the fountain was facing. Place Royale is still bustling with life, despite its age.

A brief interruption for a Personal Reflection from a wandering Batesie:

During our visit to the museum of Nantes history at the Château on August 31, I found the exhibits “Trade and Black Gold in the 18th Century” to be the most fascinating, and thus, spent most of my time in the 18th century section of the Chateau des ducs de Bretagne. These seven rooms are dedicated to Nantes’ colonial trade, as Nantes was France’s largest slave trading port. The rooms not only depict the slave industry but also the influence of the slave trade both economically and socially on the development of Nantes. Population growth was one major effect of the prosperity brought by Atlantic trade.

Specifically, I was very interested in the horrific neck and ankle shackles that were used on the slaves. Due to my inexperience with the French language, I was unable to read much without the help of someone else. I fortunately worked around this obstacle and discovered that the shackles were only used in cases where a slave had previously tried to escape.


From Gretchen, Mikayla, Jordan, Orion, and Andrew

Standing bold and bright
Illuminated in night
Uncorrupted sight

Named after a French general of World War II, Rue du General-Leclerc-de-Hauteclocque is one of many beautiful scenic streets in Nantes. Unlike other historic places in Nantes that have gradually changed over time, Rue du General-Leclerc-de-Hauteclocque has managed to maintain its original form from when it was made, with the Hotel de Ville today seen as completely untouched and the Saint Pierre Cathedral resting eloquently right at the end of the street. Our group’s main observation expressed how the old photo of the street was practically identical to our own. With barely anything removed or remodeled, Rue de General-Leclerc-de-Hauteclocque is definitely a street that simply embraces how Nantes’ elegant past continues to grace the ever-changing present.

In the old center of town
Now the Colt’ Café

After using the map to navigate ourselves to Rue des Carmes, our group found a building on the corner of the street identical to the one in the postcard. It is now the Colt' Café, located in Le Bouffay. In the past this building was known as the "Apothecaries' House". The building still has the original timber-frame from the 15th century. It is now one of the few still standing timber-frame buildings in Nantes. The Colt' Café, painted a deep orange and cream color, is ideally placed near many stores, such as the department store La Fayette. In the past the Apothecaries' House was also ideally placed in the, now, old center of town. If you are looking for a break during a busy day of shopping, the Colt' Café is the place to go.


From Jethro, Josh, Kate, Nina, and Emma

Once upon a time, Jethro went to France. In France, he saw many things! He even did a little dance! He flew around with his wings! Then, Jethro found a magic postcard. It would take him to times before. Finally, he wouldn’t be en retard!

Historic building where music and culture collide, this opera house is a large source of Nantes’ pride!

Now, you’d think that the people of Nantes would potentially be able to recognize a part of their own city. Given, it WAS about 80 years out of date, but hey, it’s still their city. Most of our other pictures were easy to find and capture; and if we couldn’t find them, we had no problem asking some friendly local where La Rue de la Juiviere was. We stopped in at antique shops, had a bit of café au lait, and basically wandered around the centre-ville to our destinations. The hard part was this last photo. Not only had the 2 parts of the river been filled in, but the bridge featured prominently in the old postcard was no longer there. Oh, on top of that we had no address, only a mention of the Tour Bretagne, easily the ugliest thing in Nantes. Kate and Josh, after consulting with the concierge of the Adagio as to where the river had been filled in, set off to cover that ground. We ended up walking all the way up the river to 50 Otages , only to realize that we weren’t in the right place. A few blocks further and we were at the Tour Bretagne. We spotted the spires in the skyline of the photo and realized that we were exactly opposite of where we needed to be. So yet again, we trekked even further, searching for any building that looked like the ones in the photo. Eventually (we came almost full circle) to a spot we’d passed many times and twice earlier that day. We’d found our photo! There was much rejoicing. At least we only had a short walk back to the Adagio…

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