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explore Nantes, France

Explore Nantes, France

Explore Nantes the capital of the north-western  French region of Pays de la Loire. That said, Nantes has strong historical connections with the adjoining region of Brittany, and is the historical capital of the region (though not its official capital since the days of Napoleon).

There is an international airport in the south of Nantes (Nantes-Atlantique). Many cheap flights to Nantes, France arrive daily.

There are very good public transportation services provided by the TAN (Transports de l’Agglomération Nantaise). It consists of 3 tram lines, a BusWay (like a tram line and numbered as such but with buses rather than trams), many bus lines, and several Navibus (public boats) lines.  The trams start early and run till after midnight, later on Saturdays, however there are also several night bus lines.

What to see. Best top attractions in Nantes France

  • Château des ducs de Bretagne, (Castle of the Dukes of Brittany) – Nantes History Museum – Expositions.
  • Cathédrale Saint Pierreand its two crypts where the treasures and the history of the cathedral are displayed. Next to the Château des ducs de Bretagne.
  • Musée des Beaux-Arts(Fine Arts Museum), Rue Clémenceau. Very beautiful building with an excellent art collection and temporary exhibitions.
  • La Chapelle de l’Oratoire. Rue Henri IV. Near to both the Castle and the Cathedral.
  • Place Maréchal-Foch. Contains one of the few existing statures of Louis XVI, the beheaded king, left in France
  • Le Passage Pommeraye. A shopping mall between la rue Crébillon and la rue de la Fosse built in the 19th century.
  • l’Ile de Versailles, a peaceful island in the Erdre with a Japanese garden.
  • Le Cours Cambronne. A few steps from la place Graslin containing imperial buildings.
  • La Place Mellinet. Contains some of the restored architecture in Nantes and consists of eight perfectly symmetric houses built around an octagon. 200 meters from Port and from Maillé-Brézé.
  • Place du Bouffay. A pedestrian area between the Castle of the Dukes of Brittany, Saint Pierre Cathedral et la Place du Commerce; ancient medieval quarter of Nantesvieux known for its Breton culture and for the pubs and restaurants.
  • Ile Feydeau, magnificent architecture of the 18th century. Shipowners’ houses in the sculptured mascarons and the balconies of wrought iron illustrate the wealth accumulated at the time of the triangular trade.
  • Le Maillé-Brézé, a warship (which never saw a battle) which has been moored in Nantes for many years which is open to visitors
  • The Jules Verne Museum, on the Butte Sainte Anne, which has just been completely restored. Has a very good collection of memorabilia and objects associated with Jules Verne. There is also a very nice view of the port of Nantes.
  • The new Palais de Justiceon the Île de Nantes, designed by Jean Nouvel and built in 2000.
  • La Tour LU(The LU Tower) – a picturesque tower guarding the entrance of a former Lefevre-Utile biscuit factory.
  • The lieu unique, centre of atypical art shelters a restaurant, a bar, a shop, theaters, etc.
  • Musée Thomas Dobrée.
  • Le Jardin des Plantes(Garden of Plants), situated just outside the main train station (North exit).
  • Le Marché Talensac, the main town market, full of high quality local produce.
  • The Machines de l’Ile(Machines of the Isle of Nantes), an exhibition of fantastic mechanical animals including the Great Elephant on which you can take a ride. Take tramway line 1 to Chantiers Naval, then walk across the bridge. Price is around €6.

The beach, especially the resort town of La Baule, is only a short drive away or can be easily reached by train. You can also travel to the beach at Pornic, a very beautiful town and much less of a beach resort than La Baule. The salt swamps at Guerande, where Breton sea salt is harvested, are worth a visit, as well, and feature an exhibit on the salt-harvesting process.

Nantes has a rich gastronomic culture, certainly for its famous wine and seafood. Additionally, this region of France is famous as the birthplace of crêpes. For a more savory variant, try the galettes de sarrasin (buckwheat crêpes).

Nantes’s nightlife is concentrated in the Bouffay area, although there are also many bars and nightclubs near the Place du Commerce and the Théâtre Graslin.

You must also see

  • Guérande, a fortified city surrounded by Medieval walls. Guérande is also famous for its sea salt production.
  • Clisson, a small town with a ruined castle and an annual open-air heavy metal festival, Hellfest, in June.
  • Le Croisic, a small fishing town, also a short walk from the scenic Côte Sauvage.

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