Nantes is the capital city of the Pays de la Loire Region in the west of France. It's a lively and pleasant city that offers a good range of things to see and do. The long history of the city has left many sites of historical importance to discover, and the industrious spirit of the inhabitants of Nantes makes the city in constant evolution.

    Nantes is a city full of interesting landmarks like the castle and the cathedral, with plenty of trendy venues and technological fantasy to enjoy too. Besides its manmade attractions, Nantes is famous for its vineyards that produce Muscadet white wine. This pairs well with the seafood caught 60 km away on the Atlantic coast.

    What are the best things to do in Nantes?


    Castle of the Dukes of Brittany

    Step into the history of Brittany

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    • History
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    Nantes’ most notable building is the Château des Ducs de Bretagne (Castle of the Dukes of Brittany). Located in the center of the city, at walking distance from the train station, it’s a Renaissance-style fortress that houses an urban history museum. From genuine historical objects to modern multimedia installations, you’ll learn a lot about Nantes and the region, in a fun and educational way. The castle features 7 towers linked by a walkway that you can walk on. For additional fun, don't miss the slide going down the side of the castle.

    Location: In the center of Nantes

    Open: Courtyard and rampart walk, daily from 8:30 am to 7 pm. Museum from 10 am to 6 pm, closed on Mondays.

    Phone: +33 (0)2 43 48 19 19


    photo by Otourly (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified


    Passage Pommeraye

    Explore an out-of-the-ordinary vintage shopping mall

    Located in the heart of Nantes, in Rue de la Fosse, the Passage Pommeraye is a covered shopping street built in the mid-19th century. Designed in a classy Renaissance-style, it's classified as a historic monument, and is especially famous for its splendid marble staircases, statues and glass ceiling. The Passage Pommeraye hosts over 25 elegant stores on 3 floors of clothing, accessories, perfumes, jewelry. The boutiques are in line with the stylish atmosphere of the place.

    Location: The Passage Pommeraye links La Fosse and Santeuil Streets in the center of Nantes

    Open: Daily from 8 am to 8 pm


    photo by François de Dijon (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified


    Place du Bouffay

    Hang around the oldest district of Nantes city center

    Bouffay is the oldest district of downtown Nantes. Located 250 meters west of the Castle of the Dukes of Brittany, this pedestrian area features many quaint streets and lanes that spread out from Place du Bouffay, a cobblestoned square that is a pleasant spot to have lunch or simply have a drink at one of the cafés and restaurants with outdoor terraces. Bouffay district is filled with boutiques selling all types of items, from clothing to shoes to mobile phones, and more.

    Location: In the center of Nantes, 250 meters west of the Castle of the Dukes of Brittany


    photo by Pj44300 (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified


    Talensac Market

    Shop at a genuine French food market

    Talensac is the main and largest market in Nantes. Located near the center of the city, it hosts over 200 stalls in 3 separate sections: covered, semi-covered and open air. Here, you’ll find mostly anything from fresh vegetable and fruits to meat and fish to clothing and artisanal products. Sundays at Talensac Market are liveliest. Tourists and locals alike come here to purchase groceries and ready-to-eat goods from recognized food professionals.

    Location: On Talensac Street, just north of the eastern end of Cours des 50 Otages

    Open: Tuesday to Sunday from 7 am to 1.30 pm. Closed on Monday


    photo by Ben Paulos (CC BY 2.0) modified


    The Machines of the Isle of Nantes

    Enter a world of dream and fantasy in a vintage shipyard

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    • Unusual

    Satisfy your inner-child with a visit to the Machines of the Isle of Nantes. Inspired by Jules Vernes’ novels, Leonardo Da Vinci’s visionary inventions and the industrial history of Nantes, this artistic and cultural project takes you to a true world of fantasy. The mechanical Great Elephant is the star of the place and the gallery of machines showcases a true bestiary of apparatus: giant mechanical spider, ant and heron, just to name a few. It’s best to pre-book the ride on the Great Elephant on the internet beforehand to avoid long queues.

    Location: On Beaulieu Island in the center of Nantes

    Open: Nov - March from 2 pm to 6 pm; Apr - Oct from 10 am to 7 pm


    photo by Duch (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified


    Le Lieu Unique

    Enjoy Nantes' national center for contemporary arts

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    • History
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    Based in LU factory, an old famous biscuit factory, Le Lieu Unique is a complex that hosts Nantes’ national center for contemporary arts. It’s a place where you can see all types of art, from live music concerts to theatre to literature to painting and more. In addition to the art exhibitions and events, Le Lieu Unique features a bar, a restaurant, a hammam, a day nursery, a bookstore and a gift shop. Blending cultures and styles, it’s a great place to meet people from all horizons in a cool venue.

    Location: 300 meters west from Nantes train station’s south entrance

    Open: from 12 pm to 7 pm. Closed on Sunday and Monday

    Phone: +33 (0)2 40 12 14 34


    photo by Erwan Corre (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified


    Jardin des Plantes

    Take a stroll in Nantes' Botanical Garden

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    The Jardin des Plantes is a green oasis next to the train station’s north entrance in the heart of Nantes. The botanical garden covers an area of over 70,000 sq m which includes 800 sq m of greenhouses that contain an outstanding collection of African and Asian orchids. With over 11,000 species of plants and flowers displayed between waterways and ponds, as well as beautiful statues, fountains and a large children’s playground, Jardin des Plantes offers a peaceful place to take a break from the hustle and bustle of Nantes city center.

    Location: Opposite Nantes train station’s north entrance

    Open: Daily from 8.30 am to 5.15 pm


    Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul

    Visit the largest religious building in Nantes

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    • History
    • Photo

    Nantes cathedral is a splendid Flamboyant Gothic landmark located near the center of the city, 150 meters north of the Castle of the Dukes of Brittany. Started during the 15th century, it was achieved at the end of the 19th century. Apart from its outstanding size and architecture, the 2 things you should not miss when you visit Nantes Cathedral are the splendid tomb of Francois II and Marguerite de Foix, the parents of Anne of Brittany, and the 11th-century crypt which houses a permanent exhibition about the history of the cathedral.

    Location: 150 meters north of the Castle of the Dukes of Brittany

    Open: In winter from 8.30 am to 6 pm and in summer from 8.30 am to 7 pm.


    La Comédie des Vins

    Discover local labels in a cool wine bar

    Nantes region is reputed for producing light-bodied and crisp white wines such as Muscadet and Gros Plant. A pleasant venue to sample these regional labels is La Comédie des Vins, Rue Suffren in the center of Nantes. Unpretentious and often busy, this wine bar has an impressive choice of top-notch wines on offer. The staff are knowledgeable and passionate, and you can accompany your wine degustation with a plate of tapas or cheese.

    Location: Rue Suffren, a stroll away from Place Graslin in the center of Nantes

    Open: Tuesday-Saturday from 6 pm to 11.45 pm; closed on Sundays and Mondays

    Phone: +33 (0)2 40 73 11 68


    La Cigale

    Feast on seafood in a historic monument

    • Food
    • Couples
    • History
    • Luxury

    La Cigale is one of the longest-established restaurants in Nantes and it’s classified as a historic monument for its Art Nouveau architecture and décor dated back to the year it opened, in 1895. Located on Place Graslin, in the center of Nantes, you can sample a wide variety of classic French dishes at La Cigale, including fresh seafood from the Atlantic Ocean which lies 60 kilometers away. From scallop to oyster and from langoustine to cod, the selection is top-notch, and even more appreciated when accompanied by a glass of local Muscadet wine.

    Location: Place Graslin, in the center of Nantes

    Open: Daily from 7.30 am to 12.30 am

    Phone: +33 (0)2 51 84 94 94


    photo by Jean-Pierre Dalbéra (CC BY 2.0) modified

    Stephan Audiger | Compulsive Traveler

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