The best local dishes from Nantes epitomize French cuisine that’s celebrated all over the world. Some of them are also popular must-tries when visiting the city. Nantes’ location in the Loire estuary makes for unique dishes, and you won’t find it better anywhere than its home.

    With seafood from the Atlantic, freshwater fish from the Loire, and famed French dairy farms surrounding Nantes, you’ll easily understand why the food here is special. Add to this the famous Nantes wine, muscadet, and you end up with truly exquisite flavors. Learn more about the famous food locals love to eat in Nantes below.

    1

    Filet de Sandre au Beurre Blanc

    Fresh fish from the Loire cooked in butter sauce

    Filet de Sandre au Beurre Blanc (zander fillet with white butter sauce) is a favorite among Nantes locals. The Loire is known for zander, a freshwater fish, which lends itself perfectly to the French white sauce.

    Typically prepared is zander fillet sauteed with carrots and shallots, cooked in butter for a white wine sauce. The light flavors are delicately balanced, and if cooked with locally sourced Muscadet wine from the Loire valley, the taste blends perfectly. Usually served with potato and garnished with parsley or chives, it’s a simple yet delicious meal.

    2

    Crêpes Bretonnes

    Sweet or savory crêpes for breakfast

    Crêpes Bretonnes are a Nantes specialty treat and among the best breakfast dishes to try in France. You'll see crêperies everywhere you go in Nantes. You probably won't be disappointed, whichever one you choose.

    Crêpes Bretonnes can be found sweet or savory, with the savory ones known as galettes. Galettes are made with buckwheat and are normally filled with ingredients like ham and cheese, or eggs and mushrooms. If you haven’t tried a savory crêpe before, you have to in Nantes. They’re a perfect accompaniment to your morning coffee.

    3

    Le Canard Nantais

    Challans duck mixed with Muscadet wine

    Le Canard Nantais is a local variation of one of France’s favorite duck dishes. On the surface, it’s a fairly simple preparation. The 3 major ingredients are duck, muscadet wine and apples. But with authentic local produce and a skilled chef, it can taste incredible.

    Traditionally, Challans duck would be used for the dish, mixed with Muscadet wine and apples from a nearby orchard. Challans and Nantes are both arguably best known for these ingredients, and when they combine into a dish, it becomes really special.

    4

    Oysters and Muscadet wine

    Atlantic oysters served with regional wine

    Oysters and Muscadet wine is a wonderful match when it comes to French coastal cuisine. Fresh oysters are caught and sold daily all over Nantes, and Muscadet is this region’s answer to the traditional champagne and oysters. Some say it’s even better.

    Oysters are perfect for an aperitif, a romantic treat, or simply a way to soak up the day with a glass of wine. The citrus hints of the Muscadet go perfectly with a slice of lemon, and the oysters come straight from the Atlantic.

    5

    Le Gâteau Nantais

    Nantes’ favorite local dessert

    Le Gâteau Nantais is a cake from Nantes and one of the best local desserts. Having been coined as everything from a traveller’s cake to a high-end dessert, Le Gâteau Nantais is something everyone can enjoy.

    Traditionally, it’s a spongy, almond flavored cake topped with a thin layer of icing and often glazed with lemon, orange or rum. There are other variations derived from the introduction of Caribbean ingredients back in the 1800s, giving it the “traveller’s cake” name. Nantes is known for its desserts, so we’d certainly recommend hunting a few of these down on your next visit.

    6

    Lard nantais

    Braised salty pork with hearty vegetables

    Lard nantais is a favorite dish among locals in Nantes, and although there are many variations, it always follows some basic principles. Sometimes called “Sunday pork” in Nantes, Lard Nantais is often eaten as a hearty Sunday meal and at times looked forward to all week.

    You get some pork, braise it in bouillon (often with Muscadet wine, of course), throw in some onions and vegetables, and voila! Although it sounds simple, it’s anything but plain on the taste buds. Best cooked slowly, lard nantais suits that Sunday mood.

    7

    Les Bottereaux

    Sugary doughnuts that are eaten on Mardi Gras

    Les Botteraux is a type of small doughnut that is traditionally eaten on Mardi Gras. Each region has their own name for the treats – you’ll find ‘Nantes boots’ all over Nantes during carnival season.

    Mardi Gra, translated as “Fat Tuesday, is the final day before Lent, and traditionally a day of gorging before the fast. Therefore, it’s the perfect excuse to eat as much butter and sugar as you can. All the locals do this in Nantes every year, and with the ‘little boots’ on every corner, you’ve gotten to get involved.

    8

    Les rigolettes nantaises

    Sugar-coated jam-based candies

    Les rigolettes nantaises are a type of confectionery that has been loved across Nantes since a local candymaker started producing them in 1902. They're a fruity, jelly based sweet that were named after the confectioner's cat, and you can't miss them if you're visiting Nantes.

    The outside of the candies is a shell made of sugar. Inside, you’ll find a natural fruit jelly filling. There's no sugar added, but it isn't needed with the delicious French jellies. The sensation when they burst in your mouth makes you understand why Nantes is a capital for confectionery.

    9

    Salade nantaise

    Smoked salmon and shrimp with a white wine dressing

    Salade nantaise (Nantes salad) is a light and refreshing dish that showcases the best of the region's ingredients. The unique qualities of each come together to create a great salad that's loved by locals.

    The bulk of the salad is fresh shrimps and smoked salmon, with cooked asparagus tips. The shrimp are lightly boiled, which along with the asparagus, brings a lovely contrast of textures with the salmon. The real touch of Nantes comes in the dressing though, with the region’s Muscadet exquisitely complementing the seafood flavors.

    10

    Petit-Beurre Nantais

    Nantes’ world-famous butter biscuit

    Petit-Beurre Nantais is a shortbread-type biscuit that's been made in Nantes since 1886. The biscuits are famous worldwide, and there are a few producers of them, with LU being the most celebrated.

    The maker of Petit-Beurre envisioned a sweet treat that could be eaten every day, and so decorated them with 52 'teeth' around the outside, representing the 52 weeks of the year. It’s hard not to eat them every day when you visit Nantes – they’re available everywhere. If you’re lucky, you might even find a freshly baked version in one of the many bakeries.

    John Frodsham | Contributing Writer

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