Located in western France near the Atlantic coast and capital of the Pays de la Loire region, Nantes is filled with hidden delights and spectacles. Sitting on the banks of the Loire River and holding strong ties to the province of Brittany, the city’s history is there for all to see.

Originally founded as a town by the Namneti Celtic tribe about 70 BC, it was soon conquered by Julius Caesar in 56 BC and renamed Portus Namnetus. The city’s early history was chequered by invasions by the Saxons, Franks, Britons before Alain Barbe-Torte removed the last invaders, the Normans, and founded the duchy of Brittany.

With a reputation as a great trading point since the eighteenth century and a host of universities and college, Nantes belies its seeming provinciality and offers plenty more to the visitor.


The Cathedral Saint-Peter Saint-Paul has enjoyed a colourful history, even having suffered during the wars and requiring restoration, it remains an impressive sight, hosting the tomb of Francois II of Brittany.

The city’s attachment to Brittany is visible in the Chateau des Ducs. Built by two of the last rulers of Brittany, Francois II and Duchess Anne, the Chateau has been host some famous and infamous guests and prisoners, including the political theorist Niccolo Machiavelli, Bonnie Prince Charlie (preparing for Culloden) and Gilles de Rais (Bluebeard), who was publicly executed in Nantes during 1440. With museums also available and fine picnic spots just outside, it’s a must-see area.

Plenty of galleries and museums are available to visit. The Musee des Beaux Arts on the rue Clemenceau provides a selection of renaissance and contemporary works, including pieces by Chagall and Monet. On the Rue Voltaire, the Musee d’Histoire Naturelle can be found and, further down, the Palais Dobree mansion claims to have Duchess Anne’s heart in a box!

Football is the predominant sport in Nantes, with the main team, FC Nantes Atlantique, plying their trade in Ligue 1 and counting former players like Didier Deschamps and Marcel Desailly. Tickets can be acquired at the Stade de La Beaujoire-Louis Fonteneau.


The main, and most picturesque, spot for shopping in Nantes is the passage Pommeraye. A small shopping mall off the rue Santeuil, the Pommeraye offers fabulous shops and an interior containing renaissance style sculptures.

Markets are scattered across the city, with the main one located at the Place du Bouffay and specialising in antiques.

One of the most unique shopping attractions is associated with the Lefevre Utile Biscuit Factory. Home of the famous Petit Beurre biscuit, the factory is of interest to antique hunters, as the commissioned boxes and advertising for the LU used well-known Art Nouveau artists. Today, these works are worth a great deal, particularly those by Alfons Mucha.

Nightlife and Eating Out

Restaurants in the city provide a mixture of local cuisine and foreign alternatives including Algerian, Italian and Chinese. The most attractive restaurant is La Cigale Brasserie in the place Graslin. Situated opposite the Opera and with a fabulous Art Nouveau interior, its one of the main hotspots in the city and the fish is a particular delight.

Bars and pubs can be located in the same area as well as the place du Commerce and the rue Marechal Joffe. For concerts, L’Olympic on boulevard de la Liberte is the place to go.

Tourist Information

Nantes Metropole Tourist OfficeBP 6410644041 Nantes cedexTel: +33 (0)272 640


Nantes Atlantique Aiport is situated in Bouguenais, and a shuttle bus (Navette Tan Air) connects to the centre every half an hour. Regular connections to Paris, Lyon and other French cities are available as well as to international destinations. British Airways run from London Gatwick and Ryanair from London Stansted.

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