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Green news France: Nantes’ new ‘living’ bridge, Limoges city potagers

A ‘vegetalised’ bridge claimed to be first in the world, edible plants replacing flower beds could feed residents

The ‘planted’ bridge in Nantes is part of a plan to help fight against heat islands Pic: Dietmar Feichtinger Architectes

Eco-design approach to new ‘pont’    

A new ‘vegetalised’ bridge that will also act as a bustling “square” in central Nantes (Loire-Atlantique) is set to feature on the current site of the Pont Anne de Bretagne. 

The new bridge will incorporate the existing one – thus re-using approximately 2,600m3 of concrete and 1,300 tons of steel – and will be 3.4 times wider, giving it a width of 50 metres. 

Local authorities announced that the bridge will feature 1,270m² of green space (nearly 20% of the total surface) planted with local species of the Armorican massif (NW France) and Mediterranean varieties which are considered more resistant to global warming. 

This is part of a broader plan to “help fight against heat islands”. 

Read more: June heatwave in France prompts huge ‘cool cities’ budget, but no plan

However, 75% of the bridge’s area will be dedicated to pedestrians, bike lanes and a tram (future lines 6 and 7).

“This project will mark the landscape of Nantes,” says Mayor Johanna Rolland. 

“It’s a real square that will be created on the Loire... offering a new place to stroll, peaceful and festive, with multiple points of view and contemplation of a city and its metropolis that are reopening step by step to their river.”

In unveiling the project, the architect selected to design the new bridge, Austrian Dietmar Feichtinger, said: “I don’t think there is a comparable bridge in France, nor in the world, in terms of its width, its ratio of soft traffic/tram to car lanes, its status as a true public place on the water and its ecological ambitions.”

Groundbreaking ‘légumes’ for Limoges

Limoges has taken the innovative measure of replacing some of its public flower beds with vegetable patches. 

The first beetroot, leeks and lettuces have been planted alongside edible pansies in front of the town hall on the symbolic place Jacques Chirac. 

Deputy Mayor Nadine Rivet, told France Bleu: “We want to show that even with vegetables, we can achieve a beautiful harmony.”

Read more: ‘French towns should ditch hanging baskets and learn to love weeds’

Authorities made it clear that produce, if it does prove to be okay for public consumption, would not be available on a free-for-all basis – any harvesting will take place under the watchful eye of mairie employees in specific time slots on certain days. 

The mairie says it still needs to address a few practical and health issues: “We are not sure of the quality of the soil, of the use that is made of it because there is traffic, there can be dogs, cigarette butts. 

“But once all these points are clarified, why not consider consumption”, added the town’s “Green spaces” deputy director, Laure Marliac.

Night-time advertising banned in Paris 

In a major move as part of the French capital’s attempt to reduce energy consumption, illuminated advertising will soon be banned at night in Paris. 

The new law, banning luminous advertisements between the hours of 23:45 and 06:00, comes into force on December 1 and affects Clear Channel, the firm that manages electric or electronic billboards, digital, backlit or scrolling advertising panels. 

Meanwhile, French company JC Decaux, which manages Morris columns (cylindrical advertising columns), the backlit panels of press kiosks and bus shelters, will have to turn them off from 1am.

Read more: Why some French towns are switching off their street lights at night

Already, as of November 1, shops and offices are obliged to switch off illuminated signs and screens “when these organisations cease their daily activity and when their premises are no longer occupied”, or the companies will risk fines and administrative sanctions.

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