Cultures contemporaines
Le Lieu Unique


The Ferdinand-Favre annex is one of the last architectural remains of the LU factory, an industrial empire established in 1886 by a pastry-making dynasty: the Lefèvre-Utile family. Throughout the 20th century, Petit-Beurre and Paille d'Or were made here. Today, the building, flanked by its 35-meter tower, is home to Nantes' scène nationale : le Lieu Unique.

From 1895 to 1985

In 1895, the Nantes-based biscuit makers Lefèvre-Utile (LU), famous for their petit beurre cookies, built a factory on Quai Ferdinand-Favre to develop new products. The structure, made entirely of concrete and metal, was innovative for its time and the two magnificent junction towers, which were added in 1909, make it one of Nantes’ most iconic buildings.

From 1986 to 1999

In 1986, and decades of expansion later, LU moved its production out of the city centre. Little by little, its factories were destroyed and only the annex of the Quai Ferdinand-Favre now remains standing. As of 1989, artists (in particular, the Royal de Luxe theatre troupe) began taking over the abandoned structure and turning it into a place of atypical creativity. In 1994, in this incredible abandoned building, the Centre de Recherche et de Développement Culturel (CRDC) / a national center for contemporary arts in Nantes, began to hold milestone cultural events: Les Allumées Le Caire (1994) ; Trafics (1996-97) ; Fin de siècle (1997-98- 99). On the strength of these successes, Jean Blaise, Director of the CRDC at the time, convinced the city of Nantes to preserve the building and transform it into a new type of living cultural space, that could also be a meeting place outside of exhibitions and performances. In 1998, new restoration work began, conducted by Jean-Marie Lépinay for the only remaining tower, as well as the rehabilitation of the factory by Patrick Bouchain.


Since 2000

January 1st 2000, le Lieu Unique was inaugurated and has become a utopian living space where conviviality meets the most contemporary forms of creativity, a space of artistic exploration, of cultural effervescence that mixes genres, cultures and people. Le Lieu Unique coordinates the Libre Usine, a rehearsal and production venue, which was inaugurated on December 4, 2021. This facility provides the scène nationale with a new production capacity to support emerging artistic forms.

Directions: Jean Blaise (2000-2010), Patrick Gyger (2010-2020) and Eli Commins (2021 to present). 

Le Grenier du siècle © Nicolas Joubard

Every year, le lieu unique offers: 
- over a hundred theatre, dance, and circus performances, as well as concerts, philosophical debates, etc. 
- over 200 days of exhibitions and residences for visual artists, 
- major events (festivals, great debates, etc.) 
With nearly 600 000 visitors (of which, 150 000 spectators for the artistic activities) le Lieu Unique must be experienced for anyone who wants to put their finger on the pulse of “la vie nantaise”.

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