For the Voyage à Nantes, majestic trees in the heart of the city: News

Monumental branches that seem to burst through the ground to invade the city, a wooden staircase to approach the flowers of a magnolia: the Voyage à Nantes begins on Saturday and places the trees back at the heart of the city.

Place Graslin, in the city center, is invaded for the summer by immense branches imagined by the Brazilian artist Henrique Oliveira. Emerging from the paving stones, they crawl up to the columns of the theater.

The artist was inspired by the film “Fitzcarraldo” (1982, by Werner Herzog), which tells the story of the destructive will of a man passionate about lyrical art who wants to build an opera in the middle of the Amazon forest. He imagines a “revenge of the jungle”.

A little further on, in the heart of Cours Cambronne, young Nantes designers Nicolas Barreau and Jules Charbonnet have installed a colourful staircase that invites visitors to climb up to breathe in the scent of the magnolias in bloom.

“The magnolia is a tree linked to the history of Nantes: it was brought back from America in the 18th century on the ships of shipowners who took part in the triangular trade,” Jules Charbonnet told AFP.

The two designers were inspired by naval carpentry to build a staircase with curved railings, reminiscent of the shape of hulls.

In the trunks or alongside them, the works in this new edition “draw attention” to “these trees which are real riches in cities, at a time of climate change”, explains Jean Blaise, artistic director of Voyage à Nantes.

“Entrance doors” in its 81-stage route, including around forty new features, monumental works have been invited to the streets.

Place Graslin, Cours Cambronne but also Place Royale, where a five-metre-high child with a palm tree head sits, designed by the artist Jean-François Fourtou.

Near the castle of the Dukes of Brittany, a hand carved with a chainsaw from a sequoia trunk by the artist Max Coulon seems to be embracing the “lying pine”, which grew horizontally to escape the shade of the neighboring American honey locust.

More discreet, several trees in Nantes and the neighboring vineyard are this summer displaying glass “jewels” designed to attract the attention of walkers to exceptional specimens.

As every year, some works will be perpetuated, notably the wooden giant designed by Fabrice Hyber installed in the botanical garden, from which trickles of water flow.

The Journey to Nantes will end on September 8.

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