The second day of our visit was a short excursion into the main town of Nantes. Nantes was largely flattened by the Allies during WWII, so the architecture is mostly modern, and therefore, almost by definition it seems, ugly. But the chateau is intact and is worth seeing, housing a museum of the town of Nantes. It gives a detailed and fascinating account of the evolution of the town from medieval centre of political power, through busy port, (active in the slave trade), industrial manufacturing city, up to its current incarnation as centre for tourism and bureaucracy.
There is an interesting publication on display; a book called The Black Code. A treatise on the ethical treatment of slaves, its purpose was to reconcile the "Christian" concept that "blacks" are "Children of God" with the idea that they were at the same time an item of household property like a table, horse or barn. It considers questions like "Who do the children belong to, if the father is owned by one master and the mother by another?", or "Can you adopt your children by a slave?" or " Is it OK to mutilate a slave?", and other burning questions of the time. It is a thick little book, densely typed, which perhaps attest to the difficulty of its stated objectives.
Moving out of the castle into less offensive subjects, there was, in the middle of town, quite the finest coffee shop I have ever been in. It was Italian. Featuring genuine hot chocolate drink (28 flavours!), the kind of ice cream for which Italy is justly famous, and coffee strong enough to paralyse a small horse, it was the ideal place to recover.