Visiting Nantes - What to See and Do

(Nantes Atlantique Airport NTE, France)

Nantes is the unofficial historic capital of Brittany, even though it is actually found within the neighbouring region of Pays de la Loire. All the same, this is a major air gateway to north-western France and the city itself offers more than you would think in historic value when exploring Brittany.

Tourists who want to jump right into sightseeing in France's 'Anglais-ised North-west' needn't look beyond the Place du Commerce and the Butte St. Anne. Plenty of awesome attractions dominate the centre of Nantes, providing memorable sights for tourists. If that shopping itch comes around, head to the historic Decré department store or the Rue de Crebillon, where plenty of unique local items are found on sale.

If there is one thing this city is famous for, it is the ample number of drinking and dining spots across the centre. Les Quai des Antilles, the Place du Bouffay and the Quai de la Fosse all provide safe and energetic nightlife spots. Of course, before the sun goes down, tourists have plenty of time to explore the historic and cultural sites of the city, including the Museum of Fine Arts and the Cathedral of St. Pierre.

Ten things you must do in Nantes

  • The number one attraction in Nantes is certainly the Chateau des ducs de Bretagne, otherwise known as the Castle of the Dukes of Brittany (or simply Nantes Castle). This magnificent step-back-in-time is particularly beautiful at night, when a network of lights illuminate the structure. The fortification provides stunning views of the city too.
  • The breathtaking Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul is a huge structure that profusely catches the eye. Established in 1434, this Gothic Roman edifice boasts a high nave that is flanked by two massive towers in front. Both towers stalk the city skyline, standing some 63 metres / 207 feet high. This marvellous structure is very close to the city's castle.
  • No attraction in Nantes radiates such cultural and historical significance like the Museum of Fine Arts. The Cacault collection was the first to grace the gallery in 1801. Today, there is a great variety of artwork from modern times all the way back to the 13th century. Eugene Boudin, Georges de la Tour and Claude Monet are just some of the artists on show.
  • Located within a stunning mansion perched over the River Loire, the Jules Verne Museum is a must-visit site for anyone interested in classic literature. The museum focuses upon the life and work of one of France's most famous writers, who was born in this very city in the year 1828. Collections include inventions, artefacts and memorabilia that influenced the work of this great author.
  • There is no place more interesting to explore and dine within Nantes than the Place du Bouffay. This historic pedestrian district is part of the Old Town, and so tourists will be able to experience the scenery of the city's past. The area is also a popular place to enjoy a night out, Brittany style.
  • Shoppers will be delighted with the Passage Pommeraye in more ways than one. The structure was first built in 1843 and is now an important historical monument of Nantes. The elegant design of the building is coupled with dozens of fascinating fashion stores. Interesting additions to the building are the Renaissance statues that hover atop the interior railings.
  • A taste of France's military might can be experienced in Nantes too. The Maille-Breze, a decommissioned naval destroyer, has been transformed into a navy museum that sits along the city's waterfront. The ship has been operating as a cultural and historical attraction since 1988, but sailed the waters of the world for some 30-odd years before retiring to its current position.
  • The city's botanical garden, locally known as the Jardin des Plantes de Nantes, is the ideal location for tourists needing a break from the streets around Nantes. It was first landscaped and constructed in 1806, although parts of the park have been operating since 1688. More than 10,000 different species of flora reside within this lovely garden.
  • Situated upon the banks of the Loire River, Trentemoult is a fascinating bastion of Brittany's old way of life. Visitors can embrace the cosy atmosphere and absorbing architecture of the village. A strong maritime ambience lingers through the air of Trentemoult village. From the heart of Nantes, this settlement is just a short shuttle bus ride across the Loire River.
  • The Natural Museum of History boasts both temporary and permanent exhibitions of local and regional species. The most fascinating display in this museum is its monstrous whale skeleton, although many would say that the collection of living snakes is more of a crowd puller. The museum is inexpensive and will appeal to travellers of all ages. However, the site is only open from 10:00 till 18:00, Monday to Wednesday.

Nantes Airport NTE

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