Jules Verne and Nantes


Story of my boyhood

Nantes, his native city, provided the author's imagination:

Nantes, the Loire river and its islands. The harbour and the ships. The bustle of the Quai de la Fosse, the calling of the unknown. The Jardin des Plantes and the exotic richness of the Nantes vegetal heritage. All these ingredients left a long lasting mark on Jules Verne. The city of Nantes was the source of the dream and the point of inspiration for the Extraordinary Voyages.

Excerpt from Jules Verne's article « Story of my boyhood ».

“[...] I was born in Nantes, where I spent nearly the whole of my childhood. The son of a father who was half a Parisian, and of a mother who was quite a Bretonne, I lived in the maritime bustle of a big commercial city which is the starting-point and goal of many long voyages. I still see the river Loire, whose numerous arms are connected by a league of bridges, its quays encumbered by freight in the shadow of huge elms, along which did not then run the double railway track and the tramway lines.

Ships two or three rows deep line the wharves. Others sail up or down the stream.

No steamboats were to be seen in those days, or, at least, very few of them. But there were many of those sailing-vessels, the type of which Americans were shrewd enough to retain and improve into clippers and three-masted schooners.In those days the only kind of sailing-vessels we had were the lubberly merchantmen. What memories they recall ! In fancy I climbed their shrouds, triced their maintops, and clung to their sky-rakers. I low I longed to cross the swaying plank that connected them with the quay, and set foot on their deck !

But, childishly timid as I was, I did not dare. Timid ? Aye, I was indeed ; and yet I had already seen one revolution, the overthrow of a regime and a new royalty founded, although I was only two years old ; and I still hear the rattle of the musketry of 1830 in the streets of the town, where, as in Paris, the people fought against the royal troops. [...]”