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Nantes Travel Guide - Nantes, France

Visit France's Sixth Largest City

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Nantes, France: Location Map showing Nantes

James Martin
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Nantes: Chateau

James Martin, Europe Travel
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Nantes Picture: Passage Pommeraye

James Martin, Europe Travel

Where is Nantes?

Nantes was historically part of Brittany, but now is the capital of the Pays de la Loire région of northwestern France. Nantes is located on the Loire river at coordinates 47°13.00N, 1°33.50W in France.

What is the Population of Nantes?

Nantes city center is composed of about a quarter million people, with almost 3/4 of a million people inhabiting the metropolitan area of Nantes. Nantes is the 6th largest city in France, and is considered one of the most desirable places to live in France, especially for young professionals who enjoy the arts and don't want to live in Paris. For the traveler, this means the nightlife in Nantes is quite lively.

Getting There

Nantes is served by many train lines, including the TGV line from Paris Montparnasse. There is an airport, Nantes Atlantique Airport. A shuttle connects the airport with the city center and Sud railway station, making the trip in about half an hour. There are a variety of hotels near the train station, backed by pleasant botanical gardens. Nantes has the largest and one of the longest-running tram systems in France.

Saving Money: The Nantes Card

The Nantes Card may save you money when visiting Nantes attractions and taking guided tours. The Nantes Card is available in three durations, 24, 48 and 72 hours. Read more on the Nantes Card.

Eat and Drink

The region's vineyards produce wines such as Muscadet and Gros Plant, both excellent with fish and seafood. Try oysters with the local Muscadet. Fromage du curé nantais is a cows milk cheese developed by a priest near Nantes, and is also excellent with Muscadet.

Near the Passage Pommeraye and the Place Royale is the Maison des Vins de Loire, the Loire Valley Wine Center, located in the former "wine port" of Nantes, where you can buy the local wines of the Loire Valley. The Nantes Card gives you a 10% discount.

Seafood, from the sea or from the Loire (pike, perch, and eels) is a local specialty, often doused in beure blanc, a regional treatment for fish. Also try a gâteau nantais, a cake that's a mixture of sugar, almonds, butter, and antilles rum.

A restaurant recommended highly is Brasserie La Cigale 4, place Graslin (face à l’Opéra) in Nantes.

You can find more restaurants at les Tables de Nantes.

Getting around Nantes

The historic center of Nantes is easily walkable, or, if your hotel is close to the train station, you can just hop a tram. The cost of a tram ticket was 1.50 euro. You can buy a booklet of 10 tickets for 12,70€. The bargain may be in the 24 hour ticket for 4.20 euro. List of (current) Prices (Tarif)

Where to Stay

We stayed at the Hotel de la Gare (book direct) near the train station and botanical gardens of Nantes. While the hotel isn't really special, the new owners, Mr. and Mrs. Archer, are extremely dialed in to the history and attractions of Nantes, and were extraordinarily helpful to getting us to the main attractions.

If you don't land near the train station, I highly recommend the Hotel Pommeraye (book direct), not so far from the Passage Pommeraye in the center of Nantes.

If you prefer an apartment in town or a rental in the countryside, try HomeAway's Nantes Area Vacation Rentals (book direct).

Nantes Tourist Attractions

One of our favorite trips was lunch at La Cocotte in Verre on the Ile de Versailles, then a short walk to the docking station of the Bateux Nantais for a relaxing tour down the Erdre river, with its famous mansions on both sides and lots of folks enjoying the water on a summers afternoon. See our picture gallery for more.

Other Recommended Attractions of Nantes

  • Nantes Cathedral Saints Peter and Paul - Begun in 1434, the Gothic cathedral wasn't finished until the end of the 19th century. After a 1972 fire the interior was restored. Inside the cathedral's 11th century crypt is a museum of religions.
  • Château des ducs de Bretagne (Castle of the Dukes of Brittany) - Nantes' castle has recently undergone restoration, and is the second oldest building in Nantes after the Cathedral. The inner courtyard is built in the Renaissance style with blistering white tufa. The Nantes History Museum is inside. Nearby is the place du Commerce, a largely pedestrian area that offers a good array of restaurants. We enjoyed Le Petit Bacchus, in the shadow of the Chateau.
  • Passage Pommeraye - a passage between two streets with different elevations, the rue Santeuil and rue de la Fosse, begun in 1840, now containing interesting shops and cafes.
  • The Museum and the native house of Jules Verne - If you like the writing of Nantes own Jules Verne, don't miss the museum with mulimedia exhibits on the Butte Saint-Anne, 3, Rue de l'Hermitage in Nantes.
  • Musée des Beaux-arts - The highly celebrated fine arts museum is built around an airy courtyard and features works ranging from the Italian Primitives to contemporary artists.
  • La Tour LU (LU Tower) - a picturesque tower built in 1905 and restored in 1998 near the entrance of a former Lefevre-Utile biscuit factory. You can visit inside to see a panoramic view of Nantes.
  • Ile de Versailles - an island you can easily reach by food with a Japanese garden. You can also take boat rides down the Erdre river. See our picture galleries below for more.

Nantes Virtual Tour - Nantes Pictures

Take our Virtual Tour of Nantes: Nantes Pictures.

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