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Nantes

Tourism, holidays & weekends guide in the Loire-Atlantique

Nantes - Tourism, holidays & weekends guide in the Loire-Atlantique
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Located at the confluence of the Loire and Erdre rivers, the city of Nantes is the historic capital of Brittany. Nantes old town is a great place to wander around, offering walkers such sights as the Gothic Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul cathedral, the castle of the dukes of Brittany dating from the 15th century, the ancient Bouffay district and its timber-framed houses, buildings of the 18th and 19th centuries, the Fosse quay lining the Loire River, and shipowners' buildings on the Feydeau island... Not to be missed: Passage Pommeraye, a beautiful 19th-century shopping arcade.

The city is also popular with those who love parks, with a Japanese garden on Versailles island with waterfalls, and the Botanical Garden with numerous plants. Art and history fans are also catered for with a museum of fine art, natural history museum, and the museum of the dukes of Brittany castle dedicated to the history of Nantes. The Jules Verne museum, located in a residence dating from the 19th century, exhibits a large number of souvenirs of the famous writer born in Nantes.

With its lively programme of festivals, the city is also a good place for partying and entertainment.

Additional information
Nantes

Nantes is the capital of the Loire-Atlantique department and the prefecture of the Pays de la Loire region.

With nearly 300,000 inhabitants, it is the sixth most populous commune in France (more than 600,000 with its urban community).

Erected upstream of the estuary of the Loire, Nantes was at first a medieval fortress before being chosen as capital by the dukes of Brittany who built there their castles in the fifteenth century.

But the city was also developed very early thanks to a very active commercial port.

The city was first linked to the Netherlands and the kingdoms of Spain and Portugal by the sea and the river before becoming at the end of the 17th century a starting point for trade to the Americas.

However, the peak of the port came in the eighteenth with slave trade when ships left Nantes to call in Africa where they embarked slaves for the new continent from where they returned with sugar or coffee.

The city continues to expand and gain population, and in the nineteenth, its industrialization related to the port (refineries, canneries, biscuits) is soon joined by metallurgy and shipbuilding.

The center of the city became bourgeois, but its suburbs were developed by the influx of manpower.

In the 20th century, several plans were made to beautify the city while fighting against the silting up of the Loire, and job losses in industry were offset by growth in tertiary activity.

Preserving its historical heritage, Nantes cultivates an art of living that allows it to retain its attractiveness and become also a major tourist pole, the question of its status as Brittany or not capital (culturally if not being Administratively) continuing to fuel a secular debate...

In its immediate vicinity, lily of the valley and white wine muscadet constitute the showcase of its soil.

Things to see and do

Labeled City of Art of History, Nantes is discovered and can be visited by foot or by bike (376 km of cycle network on its agglomeration), or by bus and trams. Many courses have been developed, thematic or general. Information on 0892 464 044.

The castle of the Dukes of Brittany, an ancient fortress with seven towers and buildings from the 15th to the 18th century, has been preserved, including the residence built of stone called "tuffeau".

Nearby, the medieval district of Bouffay has many houses with half-timbered facades, and in the city center, dating for the most part from the 18th century, numerous buildings or remarkable places punctuate the itinerary: the theater, the place Graslin, Place Royale, Place du Commerce or Place Foch, which has a column topped by a statue of Louis XVI.

Crossed by the courses Cambronne or Saint-Pierre, these districts of the center also accommodate the palace of Justice, the purse, the prefecture. Do not forget Feydeau Island, the Nantes equivalent of Île Saint-Louis, a small town in the city...

There is finally the Brittany Tower, erected in 1976, 144 m high or the new palace of Justice, work of Jean Nouvel.

The cathedral of Saint-Pierre-et-Paul in the Gothic style, due to the Dukes of Brittany (15th) and the Saint-Nicolas basilica, inspired by neo-Gothic, dating from the 19th century, are also worth visiting, Notre-Dame de Bon Port (19th century) decorated with a dome evoking the Invalides in Paris.

At Nantes, the industrial past has given rise to a revaluation of a singular heritage: the tourist can dwell on the transformation of the old tobacco factory (19th century) rehabilitated into offices and housing.

A detour is also needed by the passage Pommeraye (shopping mall of the XIXth), which has been classified, as is the brewery of La Cigale, type Belle Epoque.

After a break in the Jardin des Plantes (19th century), Procé Park, the Beaujoire Floral Park or the Petite Amazonie, a swampy site in the heart of the city, a reserve classified as Natura 2000, all the sites testifying that Nantes remained Green city.

A visit to the port areas can be interesting. It will include the Belem pontoon where the famous Trois-Mats is docked and the Wilson wharf reserved for large passenger ships: since 2015, one of them, assigned to cruises on the Loire, driven by a paddle wheel, Its ties.

Finally, a stay or a simple stop at Nantes can be the opportunity to visit one of the many museums of the city...

The Museum of Fine Arts (pictorial collections from the Middle Ages to the present) or the Dobrée Museum (works of art and archeology) are worth a visit.

In different registers, the Jules Verne museum is devoted to the visionary writer, and the museum of natural history offers very rich collections (zoology, fauna).

More recently, the museum-memorial of the abolition of slavery was inaugurated.

Places of interest

Information points
Leisure centres
Monuments
Natural sites
Performance halls
Transport

Events and festivities

At the beginning of February (several days in spite of its name), the festival of La Folle Journée offers a multitude of concerts of classical music in various places even unusual where the public is in direct proximity of the artists.

From mid-February to early March, the Hip Opsession festival features over 40 concerts and events (raps, dance, graph).

At the beginning of March, over three days, the literary festival Atlantide brings together some fifty authors at the castle, in bookshops and libraries where readings are also organized.

In July and August, the Voyage à Nantes proposes a series of animations highlighting heritage elements, all of the sites being connected by a line drawn on the ground. The opening of this "marathon" will take place on 1 July at the Nuit du Van (concerts, night tours of museums...).

From mid-July to mid-August, the Festival des Hours d'Eté organizes concerts, outdoor screenings, readings for varied audiences on themes that are as well.

At the end of August (or beginning of September), the Festival des rendez-vous de l'Erdre offers free jazz concerts.

The second weekend of September, La Folie des Plantes brings together gardening and horticulture enthusiasts (scholarship, exhibitions, fun activities).

During the second half of September, the Scopitone festival brings together multimedia artists.

On the second weekend of October, the festival "Des Lectures qui Résonnent" brings together writers and historians.

At the beginning of November, the international festival of science-fiction of the Utopiales sees converging authors, filmmakers and visual artists.

At the end of November, the 3 Continents festival attracts moviegoers (screenings, tributes to actors or filmmakers, etc.).

Detailed information

Voyage à Nantes trail
An art and poetry trail through the city of NantesFrom 1 july to 27 august 2017
Vines, wines and hikes in the Loire Valley
A wine tourism event combining hiking, sightseeing and fine foodSeptember 2017
La Folle Journée in Nantes
One of the biggest popular classical music events in EuropeFebruary 2017

Photos

Castle of the Dukes of Brittany
Castle of the Dukes of Brittany
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Erdre Basin
Erdre Basin
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Beaujoire the Floral Park
Beaujoire the Floral Park
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Moat (old bed of the Loire)
Moat (old bed of the Loire)
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Place Royale Fontaine
Place Royale Fontaine
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Cathedral
Cathedral
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Tomb
Tomb
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castle
castle
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Erdre in the fog
Erdre in the fog
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Floral Park
Floral Park
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Rose Garden
Rose Garden
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Rose Garden
Rose Garden
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Fountain Place Royale
Fountain Place Royale
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St. Nicolas Basilica
St. Nicolas Basilica
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Basilica of St. Nicolas - Nef
Basilica of St. Nicolas - Nef
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Holy Cross Church - Belfry
Holy Cross Church - Belfry
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Castle
Castle
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Castle - Well in the courtyard
Castle - Well in the courtyard
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Castle - Chapel
Castle - Chapel
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Castle - Old dungeon
Castle - Old dungeon
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Castle - Windows
Castle - Windows
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Tour LU (Lefèvre-Utile)
Tour LU (Lefèvre-Utile)
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School of Fine Arts
School of Fine Arts
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Visits, leisure and activities nearby

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