Nantes

Travel guide - Nantes

A refreshing getaway, Nantes charms wanderers, wins over travellers heading for the shores of the Atlantic and leaves all its visitors in agreement. Between the Machines de l’île, the Passage Pommeraye, the Château des Ducs de Bretagne and the Musée d’Arts, Nantes is a city full of surprises, which you will discover as you stroll through town. Historic, prestigious, creative and above all dynamic, the city’s identity is inextricably linked with its gentle, pleasant way of life.

Nantes, a playground for children and adults alike

Nantes may be quite a large city, but it is still really a child at heart. Overflowing with ideas of new ways to welcome visitors, Nantes has a mischievous, impish spirit. Put on your seven-league boots and head to the Machines de l’île. A groundbreaking artistic project, this curious site is an absolute must-see during your stay. Gigantic machines powered by complex mechanical workings will leave you speechless. Hop on board the emblematic Grand Eléphant, built of 48.4 tons of steel and as tall as a 4-story building, to discover Nantes and its former naval workshops from a unique perspective.
The more observant among you may notice a green line marked on the city centre’s cobblestone streets and alongside the Lieu Unique, the old LU factory that has been converted into an unusual space for artistic exploration. This is another example of Nantes’ creativity: the line traces a path linking the city’s most important sites along a 12-kilometre trail. Follow this path if you don’t want to miss any of the city’s treasures!

Rich heritage in the historic centre

It is time to make your way to the Château des Ducs de Bretagne, where you will learn about the history of France and the destiny of Anne de Bretagne, twice named queen of France after marrying Charles VII and later Louis XII.
The home of French kings in Brittany, this castle was built starting in the 15th century by François II, the last independent Duke of Brittany before the two kingdoms were unified, and was later taken over by his daughter Anne. The heart of this stunning example of Flamboyant Gothic architecture—with a few elements of Renaissance style—is today home to the Musée d’Histoire de Nantes, dedicated to the history of the city from its origins to today. Still in the city’s historic centre, you can visit another monument: the Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul. This impressively large site is a testimony to remarkable human enterprise: no fewer than 450 years passed between the moment construction began and the day the religious building was finally inaugurated in 1891. Next it is time to get to know Nantes’ botanical side with a visit to the Jardin des Plantes, an English-style park that covers seven hectares and welcomes some two million visitors per year.

Travel through time, from the Maison Radieuse to the Passage Pommeraye

In addition to being home to a large number of impressive architectural works, Nantes travels smoothly from one time period to the next. For a change of scenery, take a look at the Maison Radieuse, designed by Le Corbusier in 1955, not far from the city. Art lovers will have plenty to keep them happy at the Musée d’Arts de Nantes, which now includes the Cube, a new building dedicated to modern art. To complete your view of the city, don’t forget to visit the Passage Pommerarye, one of the few shopping centres to have been named a historical monument. Built in the 19th century, this covered passage is one of the first of its kind, and adds a final touch of charm and elegance to the city.

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