Le Voyage a Nantes & la Nuit du VAN

Nantes, located on the river Loire at only 60 km from the Atlantic Coast, found large areas of its territory unused or badly highlighted and looked to Art to reinvigorate its urban landscape and cultural attraction. “Le Voyage a Nantes” was therefore created as a journey across the city introducing a series of harmonised cultural events and artistic installations.

Estuaire 2 @ Julien Grataloup

Estuaire 2 – Tous droits de reproduction reserves @ Julien Grataloup

A few years before this Voyage began, there was Estuaire, an artistic adventure between Nantes and St Nazaire. This biannual event (2007-2009-2012) was first created to go along with the political project which was to build the Metropolis of Nantes-St-Nazaire, once forming one of the main harbour of France. The idea of Estuaire was then, to tie the cities together focusing on the river and the estuary’s landscape interacting with the urban territory.

A dialogue has been settled little by little, between the river and the people living along the 60km of the estuary; temporal and permanent pieces of art have been appearing each summer, attracting local inhabitants as well as foreign tourists, and helping them to discover this rich territory through Art.

A few years later, le Voyage a Nantes was created in order to unify the thriving cultural offerings of the city of Brittany’s dukes.

Jean Blaise, artistic director of these summer events, launched the first instance on June 2012, with a 8,5km pink line drawn on the ground and passing through more than 30 artistic nodes spread across Nantes. Performances, exhibitions, workshops, convivial places and surprising rendez-vous started to flourish all over the city. By its second year, many of the festival’s pieces were already famous, bringing life back to some unused or forgotten corners.

A few places became iconic:

Les machines – a gigantic elephant wood made and automated, master of other strange creatures, emerging directly from Jules Verne’s mind.

© Franck Tomps / LVAN

© Franck Tomps / LVAN

Le Carrousel des Mondes Marins. Les Machines de l’ile. Nantes © Jean-Dominique Billaud/LVAN

Le Carrousel des Mondes Marins. Les Machines de l’ile. Nantes © Jean-Dominique Billaud/LVAN

The Nest – a panoramic bar at the top of Brittany’s tower, designed as the nest of a stork.

A panoramic bar at the top of Brittany’s tower

A panoramic bar at the top of Brittany’s tower © Constance Desenfant

The Nest

The Nest © Constance Desenfant

La Cantine du voyage – a huge open air canteen/cafeteria on the docks, welcoming all the visitors and local people in a chilled atmosphere.

La Cantine du Voyage

La Cantine du Voyage, dans le cadre du Voyage a Nantes 2015 – habillage du lieu par Appelle-moi papa © Matthieu Chauveau / LVAN

La Cantine du Voyage

La Cantine du Voyage, dans le cadre du Voyage a Nantes 2015 – habillage du lieu par Appelle-moi papa © Matthieu Chauveau / LVAN

The roof of Nantes’s school of architecture, receiving speeches each year, along with performances and art installations while the visitors enjoy the stunning view over the river.

 

Skate O drome,

Skate O drome, toit de l’ecole d’architecture (Ensa Nantes), une proposition de Unity 4 Ride et Fichtre, dans le cadre du Voyage a Nantes 2015 © Franck Tomps / LVAN

Le Voyage a Nantes

Le Voyage a Nantes. Image © Constance Desenfant

And the main places of the city (Place Royale, place du Bouffay etc) which have found a new meaning during Summer thanks to the clever and surprising ideas of selected artists (a one bedroom hotel build on the fountain of Place Royale in 2012, a weird house suspended at the top of a ladder on Place du Bouffay in 2013 etc)

Image 6a - Constance

Le Voyage a Nantes. Image © Constance Desenfant

This year’s event started a few weeks ago with an inaugural night called la Nuit du Van (Voyage A Nantes). During this night (3rd of July), a lot of nocturnal activities have been organised across the city:

Le Voyage a Nantes. Image © Constance Desenfant

Various “playgrounds” took place such as “walking on the moon”, which created a moonscape of bumps and hollows while a white light was projected onto the ground underneath the famous crane which adorns Nantes’ docks. Adding to the illusion, trampolines were embedded in the ground, giving the impression of weightlessness to the patrons bouncing across the scene. All the while, a model Earth slowly rotated above the crowd, suspended by the famous crane itself.

Detroit architectes

Detroit architectes et Bruno Peinado, “On va marcher sur la lune”, Parc des Chantiers, dans le cadre du Voyage a Nantes 2015 © Franck Tomps / LVAN

Another one was the feydball; this round football field along with its anamorphosis mirror trying to rectify geometry while players experiment this new way of playing football. Or the skateodrome, a wooden structure set up on the roof of the architecture school, and made by local artists who tried to combine a velodrome, with a skate park and an athletic track for the greatest pleasure of skaters and bikers. An open air banquet also took place in the middle of the night, with real chef cooking for everyone. And a lot of museum were having a nuit blanche (nocturne visits) during that night.

Image 8a

Skate O drome

Skate O drome, toit de l’ecole d’architecture (Ensa Nantes), une proposition de Unity 4 Ride et Fichtre, dans le cadre du Voyage a Nantes 2015 © Franck Tomps / LVAN

For just one night, this event truly transformed the urban experience, showing how artists, architects, urban planners and students can work together on a common project at a city scale.

Le Voyage a Nantes also finds a meaning in its way to reveal the social, cultural and urban potential of unused or forgotten places of the city.

Words: Constance Desenfant


One Response to “Le Voyage a Nantes & la Nuit du VAN”

  1. Lina says:

    Interesting article, thank you

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