Nantes is a fun-filled destination with things to do for the whole family, no matter what you and your little ones are interested in. When you visit, you'll find a seemingly endless array of activities including museums, parks and picturesque gardens you won't want to miss.

    A family vacation to Nantes can be just as educational as it is fun, with opportunities to see significant historic sites as well as detailed exhibitions. Try it all out for yourself with some of the best family things to do in Nantes for an unforgettable vacation adventure.

    1

    Machine of the Isle of Nantes (Les Machines de l'Île)

    Visit a theme park and museum

    • Families
    • Unusual

    Machine of the Isle of Nantes (Les Machines de l'Île) is a fascinating theme park and museum where you and your family can explore an array of giant machine animals. The museum portion here features several mechanical animals including a heron with a 2.4-metre wingspan and a giant spider.

    Outside, you and your family can see and even ride the giant mechanical elephant, which is larger than any actual living elephant. You'll also find a carousel here to enjoy. It's all located along the banks of the Loire on the west side of Ile de Nantes.

    Location: Parc des Chantiers, Bd Léon Bureau, 44200 Nantes, France

    Open: Monday–Friday from 2 pm to 6 pm, Saturday–Sunday from 2 pm to 7 pm

    Phone: +33 8 10 12 12 25

    Map
    2

    Botanical Garden (Jardin des Plantes)

    See exotic plants

    • Families

    The Botanical Garden (Jardin des Plantes) in Nantes is one of the best in France, with vibrant greenery and some exotic plants you wouldn't normally find in Europe. The garden dates back to the early 19th century and features plenty of trees and grass easily accessible via well-maintained walking paths.

    One of the most alluring features here are the greenhouses. They feature quite a few exotic plants including African and Asian orchids and other epiphytes. American plants are located in the central pavilion while citrus trees can be found in the Orangerie. There's even a cactus collection here. It's all located just east of the city centre.

    Location: Rue Stanislas Baudry, 44000 Nantes, France

    Open: Daily from 8.30 am to 6.30 pm

    Phone: +33 2 40 41 65 09

    Map
    3

    Nantes Museums

    Discover history and culture

    • Families
    • History

    Nantes museums have much to offer the whole family, whether they're interested in history, culture, art or a variety of other fascinating topics. The local history museums are quite comprehensive, with some focusing on the history of the city and others expanding to the entire world. The natural history museum even explores the history of life and the planet.

    Some of the museums in town are quite unique, offering opportunities to explore more niche topics. Nantes has a Jules Verne museum, for example, but you can also visit a museum focused on the history of the printing press. You'll find museums all throughout town, though they're concentrated mostly in the city centre.

    Read more

    Location: 44000 Nantes, France

    4

    Jardin Extraordinaire

    Visit a garden in an old quarry

    • Families

    The Jardin Extraordinaire is a stunning garden that was created in the remnants of an old quarry where you can see vibrant plant life. Inside, you'll find plenty of plants native to France, but there are some more exotic plants here as well.

    Designed as a garden for visitors, the walkways are specifically designed for stunning views of everything the garden has to offer, which includes a massive waterfall and stepping stones across a waterway. You and your family can enjoy it all right across the river from Trentemoult west of the city centre.

    Location: 1 Quai Marquis d'Aiguillon, 44100 Nantes, France

    Open: Daily from 8.30 am to 6.30 pm

    Phone: +33 2 40 41 65 09

    Map
    5

    Le Lieu Unique

    Experience a cultural center

    • Families
    • Nightlife

    Le Lieu Unique is a stunning cultural center that often hosts art shows and musical performances the whole family can enjoy in a historic setting. The building itself is a converted biscuit factory, so it's always been an important part of the city's operation.

    When you visit this cultural center, you'll find not only regular concerts and art exhibitions, but there's plenty to eat and drink as well. Just make sure to check their local program to see what's going to be on during your vacation. It's located in Madeline-Champ de Mars by Erdre east of the city centre.

    Location: 2 Rue de la Biscuiterie, 44000 Nantes, France

    Open: Sunday from 3 pm to 8 pm, Monday from 11 am to 8 pm, Tuesday–Wednesday from 11 am to midnight, Thursday from 11 am to 2 am, Friday–Saturday from 11 am to 3 am

    Phone: +33 2 40 12 14 34

    Map

    photo by Martin Argyroglo (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    6

    Naudières Park (Parc des Naudières)

    Discover a thrilling theme park

    • Families

    Naudières Park (Parc des Naudières) is a stunning theme park with 6 different kinds of adventures to enjoy and something for everyone. The adventure section offers children's rides and games along with a pony trek. The inflatables let visitors enjoy bouncy castles and obstacle courses.

    If you're looking for something a bit more adventurous, try out the adrenaline section with roller coasters and slides. The exploration section has games for kids while the climb section lets kids test their strength. Finally, the mini-farm features actual animals like sheep, ponies and alpacas. It's all located less than 10 minutes from Nantes in Sautron.

    Location: 1 Les Naudières, 44880 Sautron, France

    Phone: +33 2 40 63 21 05

    Map
    7

    Goulaine Castle (Château de Goulaine)

    Tour an old castle

    • Families
    • History

    Goulaine Castle (Château de Goulaine) is a late 15th-century structure you and your family can explore to get an idea of what life for the wealthy was like. It's considered to be the first castle built in the Loire Valley, and a lot of the later additions to the castle weren't built until the 17th century.

    When you and your family visit, you'll find examples of historic opulence within and among the design of the castle itself. Tours can be guided as well, which always offer additional information about the castle and artifacts within. You'll find it all a few miles east of Nantes.

    Location: All. du Château, 44115 Haute-Goulaine, France

    Phone: +33 2 40 54 91 42

    Map
    8

    Versailles Island (L'Île de Versailles)

    Visit a Japanese garden

    • Families

    Versailles Island (L'Île de Versailles) is perfect for families looking to relax a bit, as it offers a Japanese garden designed to create feelings of zen. You'll find well-kept walkways that take you through Japanese buildings and vibrant greenery with unique Asian plants along the way.

    The island that the garden is on is artificially created, and you can learn a bit about its history during your visit as well. Of course, the star of the show is the garden itself with its alluring lanterns and cloud pruned trees. It's located in the River Erdre north of the city centre.

    Location: 44000 Nantes, France

    Map
    9

    Planetarium

    Look to the stars

    • Families

    The Planetarium in Nantes is state of the art, allowing you and your family to explore the actual positioning of stars using high tech equipment. The dome of this planetarium is 8 meters in size, making it one of the largest you'll find in the country.

    When you and your family visit this attraction, you'll be able to see 90,000 different stars all sorted into their actual proper positions. You can even see planets and their moons with a time-lapse going back 100,000 years. It's all located along the Loire river west of the city centre.

    Location: 8 Rue des Acadiens, 44100 Nantes, France

    Open: Hours may vary

    Phone: +33 2 40 73 99 23

    Map

    photo by DanielaudeonEN (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    10

    Grand Blottereau Park (Parc du Grand Blottereau)

    Explore natural landscapes and French styling

    • Families

    Grand Blottereau Park (Parc du Grand Blottereau) is a stunning park that's immaculately maintained with a fascinating greenhouse collection your family won't want to miss. This landscaped garden is set up opposite an 18th-century mansion with similar opulence.

    The greenhouse collection here tends to be one of the most popular aspects of it all. You'll find several exotic plants within, including banana trees along with Mediterranean rockery. The park is easy to get to, being located in southern Doulon-Bottiere just east of the city centre.

    Location: Bd Auguste Peneau, 44300 Nantes, France

    Phone: +33 2 40 41 90 00

    Map

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