Destination the Loire Valley: why not choose… Nantes?
Fabulous scenery, an unbelievably rich heritage and vibrant and varied cultural activities. Come and discover this city steeped in art and history that is a great place to live. Get ready for an eyeful, from the Château des Ducs, to the surprising Machines de l’Île and the dazzling Passage Pommeraye.
An exceptional historical centre
The historical centre of the city of Nantes, with its Château des Ducs de Bretagne and a glimpse of the Middle Ages, simply cannot be missed. Situated within the walls of the fortress, the Nantes History Museum illustrates the past, present and future of the city. You can admire the cathedral of Saint Pierre et Saint Paul and the Chapelle de l’Oratoire, and don’t forget the LU Tower, where the famous biscuits were once made, but is now a vibrant cultural centre.
Then head for the Place du Bouffay, which was the city’s main square in the Middle Ages, and take a stroll through this lively quarter, with its numerous bars and restaurants that comes to life when evening falls.
A city centre that combines the old and the new
Continue towards the city centre, through the Place du Commerce, then the Place Royale, where you can admire the monumental fountain that reflects the city’s position on a river and near the sea. Then take the prestigious Rue Crébillon, with its luxury shops, that leads into the Place Graslin, which was recently renovated.
Most of the architecture in this part of the city dates back to the 19th century, as illustrated by the Passage Pommeraye, a magnificent example of a 19th century shopping mall and a symbol of modernity.
You will then reach the Natural History Museum, where the collections cover every field of zoology and mineralogy and place it amongst the leading museums in France.
Then, head for the banks of the River Loire and, before crossing, visit the memorial to the abolition of slavery, which bears homage to the millions of victims of the triangular trading system.
Enter a world of fantasy
Now you will enter the emblematic district of Nantes, home to the attraction that built the city’s reputation and success: the Île de Nantes and the Machines de l’Île. This exhibition and activity park is built on the site of the former shipyards and invites you to take a trip into the world of Jules Verne. An enchanting experience for children and adults alike.
The Quai des Antilles is the ideal place to wind down and enjoy a drink.
With almost 1,100 hectares of parks and gardens, including the Jardin des Plantes and the Parc du Grand Blottereau, Nantes also offers plenty of space where you can rest and relax.
Top 10 Must-Sees
The Château des Ducs de Bretagne: situated in the historical centre of Nantes, the Château des Ducs de Bretagne is the city’s most famous monument. Seen from the outside, the castle’s 500 metre long ramparts are separated by seven towers connected by curtain walls. On the inside, there is an elegant 15th century ducal residence made of tuffeau stone, with flamboyant Gothic styling that shows the first signs of Renaissance inspiration, and other buildings dating back to the 16th and 18th centuries.
The Nantes History Museum: from the Edict of Nantes, to the transforming events of the 20th century, colonial trade and the salve trade, the Nantes History Museum paints a picture of the city in relation to the great moments in the history of Europe and of the world.
The Cathedral of Saint Pierre et Saint Paul: facing east-west, in accordance with the Catholic tradition, this tuffeau stone edifice has late Gothic styling. The façade, which was completed in 1481, is flanked by two towers and crossed by three portals, whose finely sculptured arches feature innumerable icons.
The Chapelle de l’Oratoire: this 17th century building, situated just a short walk from the castle and the cathedral, was classified as a historical monument in the middle of the 20th century. And don’t miss the Baroque-inspired façade decorated with pilasters.
The LU Tower: on 1 January 2000, the former LU biscuit factory became an atypical arts centre: le Lieu Unique. Le Lieu Unique is Nantes’ national venue for artistic exploration, a melting pot of culture and conviviality, where different styles, cultures and audiences can come together.
The Passage Pommeraye: this gallery, built in 1843 to renovate a run-down district of the city, is a genuine architectural treasure, which surprises with its monumental central staircase and its style, a mixture of the neo-classical and Louis-Philippe. A magnificent venue, crammed with history that is sure to please shopping addicts.
The Butte Sainte-Anne: a former bastion of the workers from the shipyards and the factories on the banks of the Loire, the Chantenay district still dominates the city today. The Butte Sainte-Anne rises 30 metres above the quayside and affords a fine view of the river and the Île de Nantes.
The Memorial to the abolition of slavery: the 2,000 commemorative plaques on this green esplanade recall the slave expeditions that set sail from Nantes and the trading posts in Africa and America. A place to meditate, with quotes about slavery from all over the world.
The Jules Verne Museum: the large 19th century town house on the Butte Sainte-Anne is the home to a museum that invites visitors on a trip through Verne’s work, with its collection of books, documents, excerpts and illustrations, posters, games and other artefacts.
The Machines de l’Île: this unique artistic project consists of machines located at the crossroads between Jules Verne’s invented worlds, the mechanical universe of Leonardo da Vinci and the industrial history of Nantes. You can take a ride on the back of the giant mechanical elephant as its walks between the marine carousel and the gallery of machines.
A tradition of delicacies
How can we forget the petit beurre biscuits made by LU, or the famous pailles d’or that are so popular with French children. But the culinary tradition of the city of Nantes includes many other specialities. As the capital of market gardening, Nantes is famous for its abundant and diverse vegetables. And the nearby ocean is also a source of a wealth of fish and seafood. And don’t miss out on the soft and spongy gâteau nantais, with its fragrance of rum and almonds and a rich iced topping.
January-February: La Folle Journée de Nantes
A five-day festival of classical music frequented by numerous well-known musicians who play the works of one featured composer or the music from a particular period of history.
July-August: The tour of Nantes
A 15-kilometre urban, artistic and poetical journey through the city in 40 stages. The route is marked out by a line on the ground linking all the main cultural sites that host exhibitions, and temporary artistic or horticultural exhibits.
Late August-early September: The Erdre Festival
This river festival features traditional vessels and concerts along the banks of the River Erdre. Almost 80 free jazz, blues and electro music concerts, traditional or modern dance halls, and around 100 vintage vessels attract more than 100,000 spectators every year.
September: La Folie des Plantes
The largest exhibition of flowers and horticulture in western France and a regional showcase of plant diversity. An exhibition-sale of collector plants is held in the Grand Blottereau park, with 150 exhibitors, producers and horticultural clubs.
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Vols direct Nice - NANTES
Vols direct Nice - NANTES
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