Text and Photography by Allison Connolly • Photograph Courtesy of Tourisme de Nantes Métropole
All the gastronomic delights of western France—crêpes, Muscadet wine, salted butter, seafood, and tea, yes, tea—are found in the city of Nantes, situated on the Loire River, 40 miles inland from the Atlantic Ocean. This birthplace of novelist Jules Verne is historically and culturally linked to both Brittany and the Loire Valley. Countless visitors descend on the city to visit the Château of the Dukes of Brittany, stroll along the banks of the river, admire beautifully preserved 18th-century architecture, and taste exceptional regional wines.
The French are learning to prize tea as they do their fine wines. As tea consumption grows in France, so too does interest in high-quality tea and unique tea experiences.
Proof of French passion for tea is Nantes’ tea-drinkers club—Le Club des buveurs du thé. Founded in 2002, the club currently has 30 active members who participate in various activities, including tea tastings, innovative tea and food pairings, meetings with tea authors, tea-infused meals, and excursions to other European cities to share and learn about tea. In addition, club members have the privilege of harvesting tea from the city’s garden of tea bushes, a gift from Nantes’ sister city Suncheon, South Korea. Enthusiasts will discover a range of tearooms and tea shops to quench their thirst for a proper teatime.