The LU of Nantes!!!

This is a very unique monument of Nantes in the Pays de la Loire region of my belle France. We have walked by here several times and seeing briefly the museum but never really saw it per se. However, writing about the biscuits of another blogger (views from the back) got me to bring this one out of the vault with the picture I have left. The text is new but the pictures are from 2013! Hope you enjoy the new post on the LU biscuit factory ,and the Lieu Unique cultural center.

Well by now you should know me, I love the history of the places and the architecture that surrounds them so this text will be long but worth it me think. Enjoy the LU of Nantes!!!

nantes la tour LU my13

This is a bit of history on the LU Factory !

It was from the 1860s that the biscuit industry took off in France, and particularly in Nantes and Bordeaux. The fall in the prices of sugar and fats makes it possible to switch the biscuit from the bakery to the pastry shop, to transform it into a luxury product.

The history of the LU factory begins with the arrival of Jean-Romain Lefèvre, a pastry chef from Varennes-en-Argonne, in Nantes, in 1846. Jean-Romain is employed in a pastry shop on rue Boileau. In 1850 he married Pauline-Isabelle Utile, and the couple decided to buy the pastry shop to turn it into a “Factory of Reims biscuits and dry sweets.” Success was quickly achieved and the couple opened a second store in 1854, under the company name “Lefèvre-Utile”. At the end of the 19C, biscuits were sold in bulk. Louis opts for a more modern packaging, in metal boxes, called “tin boxes”

The brand’s identity was already created in the 1860s by chosing the allegory of Fame to affirm the quality of their products and a certain conquering desire. At the end of the 19C, packaging became an advertising medium. Subsequently, in 1892, the company developed a line of lithographed boxes. The illustrations are mainly inspired by Brittany with, for example, the Retour de la Pêche cookie box dating from 1892, the Régates de la Loire in 1894 or the Breton Banquet dating from 1902. They bought an old spinning factory in 1885. on the grounds of the Ile de la Madeleine, opposite the Château of the Dukes of Brittany and close to the train station.  On February 1, 1887, Louis Lefèvre-Utile joined forces with his brother-in-law Ernest Lefièvre and together they officially founded the Lefèvre-Utile company. In 1897, Louis sent his son’s sketches to Firmin Bouisset who made him the Little Schoolboy (pétit écolier biscuits fame). And in 1905, at the time of the company’s golden age, Lefèvre-Utile released the Paille d’Or. The biscuit alone represents a graphic medium; in 1903, painted a portrait of Sarah Bernhardt for the advertisement of LU. The company’s advertising boards are true works of art. Inspired by Art Deco, they are available in posters, mural advertisements painted on the gables of buildings, on billboards attached to trams or exhibited at major events such as world exhibitions. The company participated in the Universal Exhibition in Paris in 1900, for which it was asked of  Auguste Bluysen to build a tower 36 meters high. Inspired by lighthouses, this tower became an emblematic element of the brand since two towers were subsequently built in Nantes. The idea of ​​these achievements is to show that the company is a beacon for the city. Inside the pavilion, earthenware by Eugène Martial Simas adorns the walls in a resolutely Art Deco style.

nantes chateau to LU building apr08

At the beginning of WWI, the three main biscuit factories of Nantes, LU, the Biscuiterie Nantaise (BN) and the Biscuiterie de l’Union, were requisitioned for the production of war bread. WWII allowed the factory to restart production of war bread and cookies.  In the early sixties, faced with the invasion of American products on the market was the main reason that in 1969, LU merged with Brun to become LU-Brun. This restructuring heralds the end of the family business. A few years later, in 1975, LU-Brun associés was bought out to form the Céraliment LU-Brun group. The name changed again in 1978 to Générale Biscuit and in 1987 a new factory was built in La Haye-Fouassière, near Nantes.

The history as above can be found in French at the Château des Ducs de Bretagne (castle of the dukes of Brittany-see post) webpage:

There is a LU Museum, where you will find all the history, know-how and iconic cookies of the LU Brand! In the old stables of the Château de Goulaine (see post), you will also be able to discover or rediscover the famous advertising and artistic works that have marked the history of the Lefèvre-Utile family, from 1846 to the present day. The Creation, Puzzle or even Memory workshops will allow families to spend an entertaining moment around the most beautiful works of the Museum. webpage:

The current LU weppage with more on its history and product line can be found in French here:

Now what is there now near for us that walked to it the Château des Ducs de Bretagne! Well ,there is the Le Lieu Unique is a contemporary culture center created on January 1, 2000 and installed in the former premises of the LU biscuit factory, whose initials are also those of the cultural center. Le Lieu Unique is located in the Champ-de-Mars district, on the banks of the Saint-Félix Canal, at the eastern end of what was once Gloriette Island. The castle of the Dukes of Brittany, the Cathedral, the Congress expo center and the SNCF train station are within 500 meters from it.  You get there walking from the castle as we did. On public transport tramway line 1 and Busway line 4, stop/arrêt Duchesse Anne. Also, Chronobus C3, stop/arrêt lieu unique.

The two towers, built in a style close to Art Nouveau, aim to assert the power of the company by creating a perspective in the extension of the Saint-Pierre and Saint-André courtyards and by responding to the towers of the castle of the Dukes of Brittany. In 1943, the bombings of WWII which ravaged Nantes also affected the towers but did not destroy them completely. These will be beheaded during major works in 1972. Only the one located to the west was completely razed during the 1980s to make way for a hotel.  The rest of the plant continued to operate until production and the 450 employees who worked there were transferred in 1986 to the new site at La Haie-Fouassière.

The Nantes LU factory was then decommissioned. Its buildings were then gradually destroyed and only the annex to the Quai Ferdinand-Favre remained. The city of Nantes bought the Ferdinand-Favre annex in 1995. The southern part of the buildings of the LU biscuit factory were then razed to make way for a building complex built around the new cour du Champ-de-Mars, notably housing the headquarters of Nantes Métropole regional government. The remaining northern part between avenue Carnot, quai Ferdinand-Favre and rue de la Biscuiterie, where cultural activities take place .  In 1998 began a project to rehabilitate the old factory to restore the only remaining tower. Since December 30, 1999, there is a national stage which offers shows, concerts, events, exhibitions, conferences … as well as a café / bar / club, a restaurant, a bookstore, a crèche and a hammam.  The old LU tower that was kept is 38 meter high, and surmounted at the top by a lantern identical to that presented by the LU pavilion at the 1900 Universal Exhibition and is topped with a metal spire. The dome is made up of six oval-shaped windows topped with carved eagles. The body is decorated with a fame, angel wielding a trumpet and surrounded by six of the signs of the zodiac. At the top of a 130-step staircase, the tower offers a breathtaking view of Nantes.

I finally becomes the “Le Lieu unique” in 2000. The unique place is today internationally recognized for its spirit of curiosity in the various fields of art: plastic arts, theater, dance, circus, music, but also literature, philosophy , architecture and digital cultures.

The official webpage of the Le Lieu Unique cultural center:

The Nantes tourist office on the Le Lieu Unique

There is a nice restaurant inside le lieu unique with a separate webpage here:

So, there you go folks another nice place to visit in nice Nantes and close to many interesting things to see. The Lieu Unique or Lu factory is worth the detour! Hope you enjoy the post and do eat those biscuits!! love them!!

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

2 Comments to “The LU of Nantes!!!”

  1. There’s a LU factory in Herentals. Sometimes you can smell cookies from afar.

    Liked by 1 person

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