Sitting on the banks of the Loire River, the sleepy, picturesque appearance of Nantes belies its cultural prowess. Quaint cobbled streets and quirky half-timber houses hark back to the city’s medieval past in the beautiful Bouffay Quarter of the city. But, with cutting edge museums, galleries, tourist attractions and a buzzing nightlife, this former maritime powerhouse boasts a rich historical and cultural heritage.
The stunning Chateau des ducs de Bretagne is the city’s most prominent architectural spectacle and is also home to the Nantes History Museum with over 850 historical artefacts. Many cultural events are held here throughout the year.
The Cathedral Saint Pierre Saint Paul is a stunning gothic masterpiece while on the Canal Saint-Felix, an old biscuit factory has been transformed into a avant-garde art centre, the Lieu Unique, complete with bar, theatre and even a Turkish hammam. With panoramic views of the city, this is somewhere visitors can while away a whole day.
Other prominent cultural attractions include the Jules Verne Museum, the majestic Theatre Graslin with its impressive Corinthian columns and marble and gold interior, and the Museum of the Abolition of Slavery – a very well thought out and interactive exhibition. The Machines de l’ile is another fascinating sight that transports visitors to a world of magic and dreams. Three major artworks; the Great Elephant, the Merry Go Round of the Marine World and the Huge Heron Tree; are said to be a vision of the worlds created by Jules Verne and Leonardo da Vinci.
Those craving sanctuary and tranquillity need go no further than the incredible Jardines des Plantes. With over 1000 hectares of lush open green space, this gardener’s paradise is home to over 1 million species of plant life.
More art can be found along the Estuarie Nantes stretching all the way to Saint Nazaire. Individual pieces of work by world renowned artists line the route, with over 30 works to see on this fascinating trail.
Whether looking for a bargain or searching for designer labels Nantes is a shoppers dream. The Rue Crebillon is the city’s most famous shopping street with designer names emblazoned on its shop fronts. The exquisite 19th century arcade, Passage Pommerye, also boasts many chic boutiques while Galleries Lafayette is a large mall that offers shopping at more reasonable prices. Be sure to visit the Marche de Talensac, the town’s biggest market, for some friendly haggling and wonderful local produce. Every Saturday on Rue Jean Jaures, a giant flea market kicks off the weekend.
Spend evenings in Nantes fine dining, tasting local wines or dancing the night away. Alternatively, visit the Planetarium and embark on a journey through space and time in this unexpected and exciting city on the Loire.
The following information is correct as of January 2015 and is subject to change. Please check with the airline directly for complete accuracy.
Nantes Altantique Airport is located just 5 miles from the centre of Nante and takes just 20 minutes by car. The TAN bus service links the airport to the city centre in 20 minutes while pubic bus 37 connects with the towns tram network. Shuttle buses and taxis are also available outside the terminal building.
What you need to know
Currency: The Euro (€)
Visas: UK and EU nationals do not require a visa to enter France. A passport valid for three months beyond the date of departure is required. Nationals of other countries may require an entry visa. More information can be obtained at a local embassy or on the Foreign Office website.
Laws: The legal age for consuming alcohol is16 for beer and wine and 18 for spirits. Here is a smokng ban in force that prohibits smoking in all indoor public places including bars, cafes, restaurants, clubs and hotels and on all public transport.
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit Nante is June, July or August when the sun shines every day. This is also peak tourist season so those wanting a less crowded holiday should wait until September and October when the weather is a little cooler. Winters in Nante do not get very cold so this is a lovely tranquil season in which to visit and with much cheaper flights. March, April and May are also enjoyable times to visit with clear skies and dry weather. Icy winds come to Nante in winter so bring plenty of jumpers if planning a visit between November and January.
Summers in Nante bring many festivals and activities from jazz music and sculpting to literature and science fiction. The Festival of Three Continents in November and December bring a taste of Africa, Asia and Latin America to wintery France.
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