Feydeau is an island in the heart of the city — a status this neighbourhood once claimed before being annexed into Nantes, along with another former island, l’Île Gloriette. In spite of this, it has kept the contours of an urban islet, thanks to its untouched 18th century style architecture.

Even though Feydeau has ceased to be an actual island since the arms of the Loire around it were filled between 1926 and 1946, this neighbourhood’s particular atmosphere makes it a place unlike any other. Just take a step, a stroll, or watch the passersby click their heels on the cobblestones of Rue Kervégan (the island’s main avenue) and you’ll instantly feel it: this strange sensation of being elsewhere. Even though the constant hustle and bustle of the city is right next-door, this feeling is palpable in every corner of Feydeau. The restaurant and bistro owners, along with the businesses and neighbourhood locals, also speak of “un village Feydeau”… When night falls, the surrounding mood only confirms that feeling.

Despite this timeless ambiance — one that invites you to daydream while stretched out on the grass in the first rays of spring or summer sun — the history of this neighbourhood has strong historical ties the Atlantic slave trade. The massive buildings recall the opulent lives of the ship-owners who struck it rich during the maritime trade of the 18th century. Through their splendour, these homes illustrate the magnitude of Nantes’ past as a commercial hub. From the 16th to the 19th century, two major sources of wealth guaranteed the city’s opulence: Africa and America. The ships that were built and equipped here ensured the the trips between the port of Nantes, France’s then-biggest port, the Guinean coast, and the West Indies.

Feydeau is a neighbourhood one should discover looking up – but also always looking back at yesterday.

So as to never forget.

 

The Atlantic slave trade district

This district contains the former mansions of slave ship owners. Proof of how prosperous this activity was for Nantes, France’s largest slave port in the 18th century.

Façades of distinction

Temple du goût 16, allée Duguay-Trouin
Built in 1750 by the ship merchant Guillaume Grou, this façade has a central doorway and high arched windows with three balconies, all decorated with beautiful wrought ironwork growing increasingly narrow as they ascend.

Immeuble Perraudeau 13, allée Turenne
This building has a triangular pediment and three grand centered arches letting light inside the ground floor spaces. The first floor is decorated with a balcony set on a console.

Hôtel de la Villestreux 3, place de la Petite-Hollande
One of the island’s oldest and largest buildings has 108 windows and doors. It was built on two plots and is the only one with a gateway for vehicles.

Hôtel Grou 2, place de la Petite-Hollande
Remarkably decorated with stone masks. You will easily recognise Neptune surrounded by the four elements: earth, air, fire and water.

Balconies
Allée Turenne: nos 3, 8, 9, 10, 11
Place de la Petite-Hollande: nos 1, 2, 3
Rue Kervégan: nos 9, 18, 30
Allée Duguay-Trouin: nos 8, 9, 10, 15, 16

Mascarons
Allée Turenne: nos 3, 8, 9, 10 et 10 bis, 11, 13
Place de la Petite-Hollande: nos 2, 3
Rue Kervégan: nos 9, 13, 28

“Mascarons” are stone door or window ornaments sometimes portraying wild or hideous faces. The island seems to have been particularly inspired by colonial maritime trade and the mythological: spirits of the sea, bearded winds, haloes of shells, a figure in a crown of stone…

Not to be missed

4, cours Olivier-de-Clisson
February 8th 1828, Jules Verne was born here.

Rue Kervégan
The island’s main street. It heads west to Place de la Petite-Hollande, which evokes the Dutch colony of Nantes.

Cour ovale
9, allée Turenne
This courtyard is only accessible during guided tours with Le Voyage à Nantes (check with our advisors).

#LVAN works of art

More about the slave trade