With the showcase of the American TV series Nashville and the new trendy studios of Jack White and Dan Auerbach (The Black Keys), the capital of the state of Tennessee are experiencing a period of renaissance, without losing their country roots. Between the organic restaurants of East Nashville and the bars in the city center, there are two worlds as exciting as the other to discover for a weekend.
DAY 1: TRADITION
10 a.m .: Country stars
Who says Nashville says country music. In order to understand its place in the history of American popular music, a visit to the Country Music Hall of Fame is essential. Nashville has propelled the careers of Ray Price, Patsy Cline, Hank Williams, Loretta Lynn, Wanda Jackson, Dolly Parton and Johnny Cash. Closer to our time, it is also the city of Kings of Leon and Taylor Swift. Modern and interactive, the museum brings together a host of objects, including a guitar by Johnny Cash and the famous golden Cadillac by Elvis Presley. The current temporary exhibition pays tribute to Alan Jackson. The museum also offers a guided tour of the famous Music Row, the street on which most major studios are located, where Elvis and Dolly Parton recorded respectively Are You Lonesome Tonight and I Will Always Love You.
222.5th South Avenue
11:30 am: Merchants Restaurant
In downtown Nashville, it is best to choose your restaurant so as not to be bitterly disappointed. For a reasonable price, the Merchants Restaurant offers a pleasant journey back in time. Founded in 1892, the establishment, housed in an old brick hotel, serves carefully cooked southern dishes. Prefer the atmosphere on the ground floor and have a dish of fried fish, a Cobb salad or a pulled pork sandwich. If you prefer to have lunch in a good old “dinner”, stop at Arnold’s Country Kitchen.
Merchants Restaurant: 401 Broadway
Arnold’s Country Kitchen: 605.8th South Avenue
1:30 p.m .: Red Neck Comedy Bus Tour
Put your ego aside and go back to the Country Music Hall of Fame. Two men in jeans overalls and wearing John Deere caps stroll in front of an army-colored minibus. The youngest, Brian, hosts the Red Neck Comedy Bus Tour. Sit in the front, even if it means being called frog. Don’t worry, everyone will pass by. The concept: a guided tour full of self-mockery. Informative and entertaining.
3 p.m .: Ryman Auditorium
A legendary Nashville venue, the Ryman Auditorium offers behind the scenes guided tours in the footsteps of Dolly Parton, Elvis Presley and Minnie Pearl. A host of photos and stage clothes adorn the visit of around sixty minutes in every corner of the building. From 1943 to 1973, the Ryman presented the famous evenings of the Grand Ole Opry (which now take place in a complex on the outskirts of the city). The room stands out with its exceptional sound system. Despite its modest size, many artists are keen to perform there, both country musicians (Vince Gill, Brad Paisley) and indie-rock groups (The National, First Aid Kit).
116.5th North Avenue
4.30 p.m .: Third Man Records
Third Man Records serves as headquarters for Jack White. It brings together a studio, the offices of his record company and a store where Neil Young, Wanda Jackson and The Kills have already set foot. A treasure chest for lovers of vinyls and rock objects of all kinds. As for Dan Auerbach’s Easy Eye Sound studio, from The Black Keys, where Lana Del Rey recorded her most recent album, it boils down to an anonymous brick building that is not open to the public.
623, 7th South Avenue
5.30 p.m .: BB King’s Blues Club
Music bars live, there are plenty of them in downtown Nashville. Here, hello abuse and exit snobs. Suggestion: BB King’s blues bar, on 2nd Avenue. There are always excellent musicians on stage. The relaxed atmosphere perfectly complements an aperitif after a long day of visiting.
152, 2nd North Avenue
7 p.m .: The Southern Steak & Oyster
Nashville offers several good restaurants, including the Capitol Grille, the Husk and the Farm House. Chance led us to the counter of the sumptuous bar of the Southern Steak & Oyster. A mountain of oysters and a shared ribs dish confirmed our choice. Once night falls, you are free to go to bed, end your evening in a country bar or see a show at the Ryman Auditorium, at the Grand Ole Opry or in the loft of the Cannery Ballroom, where we saw the group English Alt-J.
150, 3rd South Avenue
DAY 2: THE RENEWAL
10 a.m .: Farm products
Your hotel is most likely located in the city center. Before crossing the east side of the Cumberland River, take a stroll at the Nashville Farmers’ Market to see where organic and farm-to-table restaurants are sourced from East Nashville.
900, Rosa L. Parks Boulevard
12h: Artisan Foods Market
The British daily The Guardian published an article last year on the many rock bands emerging from the East Nashville neighborhood, where bikes, gay bars and organic restaurants are proliferating. Even the New york times recently reported on the East Nashville food scene. First stop: the Artisan Foods Market, where the menu changes with the seasons. Save yourself room for a pastry creation and choose a good wine from the card displayed online. For lack of space, go right across the street to the Margot Café.
1000 Main Street
2 p.m .: Shopping
The Artisan Food Market is located at the famous “5 Points” intersection of East Nashville, one of the few corners of the neighborhood where you can park your car for several hours. If you are in a group, this is the free period of the trip. We stroll in the Art & Invention gallery, we thrift stores to find a pair of cowboy boots (Hip Zipper, Wonders on Woodland). We will secretly eat the famous hot dog of the restaurant I Dream of Weenie, or else, on a whim, we will get a tattoo at the Kustom Thrills studio.
4 p.m .: Portland Brew East
To move between the two nice corners of East Nashville, you have to walk about 2 km on a path with more or less pedestrian virtues. Young trendy adults – and many gays and lesbians – who take over the neighborhood travel by bicycle. As Nashville remains a city of cars, you have to plan your bus route so as not to waste your time. Once in port, at the corner of Eastland and Scott avenues, have a coffee at Portland Brew East.
1921, Eastland East
8 p.m .: Silly Goose
This area of East Nashville includes several restaurants, bars and even an excellent ice cream counter. Two suggestions for supper. First the excellent Silly Goose, whose products have followed the path “from farm to table”. Beautiful decor, friendly service. An excellent kale salad with caramelized squash and a plate of Portobello mushrooms with goat cheese and tomatoes; our experience was memorable. If you spend more than two days in Nashville, the vegan restaurant The Wild Cow, located in the same building, is also worth a visit.
1888 Eastland Avenue