Destination Guide - Nantes.

 

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London City to Nantes
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Overview

Nantes’ strong identity is expressed in exciting architectural variety and a dynamic events scene. Capital of Brittany until WWII, it combines the splendour of its historical legacy with very modern cultural initiatives. The position of the ducal chateau facing a remarkable arts centre in a former biscuit factory across the Loire River illustrates this powerful contrast.

Creativity and confidence ooze from every pore of this great maritime centre which has re-invented itself to meet the challenges of contemporary life. It is now head of the Loire-Atlantique region, but offering all the best of Brittany at the same time.

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Our top five sights

Château des ducs de Bretagne

There’s the double attraction here in Place Marc Elder of a fabulous castle (free rampart walk) and the sophisticated museum of Nantes’ history it contains. Explore the horrors of the slave trade and the glories of the city’s commercial past.
4 place Marc Elder, 02 4048 6281More

Ile Feydeau

Admire the 18th-century houses built with the wealth of the slave trade in this part of Nantes which was once an island but now contains streets of lavishly ornate architecture decorated by sculpted ‘masks’.
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Les Machines de l’île

Situated on the Île de Nantes in former ship-building premises, this enterprise develops vast moving mechanical creations which deservedly attract the crowds. Fancy a ride around the site on or in a gigantic elephant? Not just for kids!
Boulevard Léon Bureau

Cathédrale Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul de Nantes

A building of striking luminosity thanks to limestone from the Loire, the cathedral is essentially of 15th-century origin, on the site of earlier versions. It contains the elaborate marble tomb of Duke François II and his second wife.
Place Saint-PierreMore

Passage Pommeraye

The opulence of mid-19th-century Nantes is apparent in the architectural spectacle of this covered shopping arcade, decorated to within an inch of its life with frills and foibles.
Rue de la FosseMore

Our top five activities

Sail the Erdre

You can hire an electric boat from Ruban Vert on the Île de Versailles and sail the beautiful Erdre River to the north of the city at your own pace.

Cruise on the Loire and Erdre

Bateaux Nantais (Quai de la Motte Rouge) offer a variety of themed evening cruises, with dining, dancing and entertainment.
02 4014 5114

Wine-tasting

The Maison des Vins provides a comprehensive introduction to the wines of the Loire region. Follow this with an established wine route to vineyards in the area to taste your favourites.
15 place du Commerce, 02 4089 7598

‘Mysteries and Legends’ night-time tour

Ask the tourist office for details of this fun tour of the city by night, with quite a few surprises along the way. Skilled story-tellers create a truly exciting atmosphere.

Turkish bath

This almost secret location below Le Lieu arts centre is perfect for a spot of indulgent relaxation. The oriental décor will get you in the mood!
Quai Ferdinand-Favre

Our top five events

June: Printemps des Arts

A spirited celebration of the baroque in theatre, dance, music and visual art to kick off the festival calendar. Events take place throughout the month in various city venues.
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August-September: Les Rendez-vous de l’Erdre

This is not just a jazz festival, but a wider celebration of the Erdre River with many events and informative activities. Artists from all over the world feature in the musical programme.
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July-September: Les goûts uniques

This is one for food lovers. An extravaganza of local produce, famous chefs, wine-tastings and general culinary indulgence. It ends with a 1,000-seat meal in the courtyard of the chateau.
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October: Celtomania

This festival showcases traditional themes and innovative trends in Breton and other Celtic arts. Expect plenty of music, singing (in various Celtic languages) and dancing as well as exhibitions.
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November: Les Utopiales

For sci-fi aficionados, Les Utopiales really is utopia. Get into the part in costume or simply marvel at all the fantastic beings attending the themed films, discussions and art.
More

Shopping

Shopping in Nantes is a real pleasure, whether you are seeking the sophisticated French boutiques of the Rue Crébillon or original souvenirs in the Passage Pommeraye, an architectural flourish of an arcade in lavish Baroque style. In a very arty city, Rue Jean-Jaurès is the place to browse for treasures or look out for LU biscuit memorabilia in Art Nouveau boxes. Nantes’ own wines can be found at the Maison des Vins de Loire (15 place du Commerce, 02 4089 7598). There’s a big flea market on Saturdays in the Place des Viarmes and a wide range of general stalls on the Quai de la Fosse on the same day.

Food & Drink

Probably the most famous place to eat in Nantes is the brasserie La Cigale (4 place Graslin, 02 5184 9494), going since 1895 and equally renowned for its seafood and Art Nouveau décor. It’s also a salon de thé, so good for people-watching if you can get an outside spot. L’Atlantide (16 quai Ernest Renaud, 02 4073 2323) has a well-deserved Michelin star for Jean-Yves Guého, making booking in advance advised to try the predominantly fishy menu. La Raffinerie (54 rue Fouré, 02 4074 8105) is another address of gastronomic excellence, highly regarded by locals. For a simple, well-cooked meal and good service, La Reine Margot (8 rue de la Juiverie, 02 4047 4385) is a reliable bet.

Nightlife

You’ll have no trouble finding entertainment at night in Nantes – simply head for the Quartier du Bouffay and take your pick of restaurants and bars, many with live music or impromptu jam sessions. Rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau is especially popular with young locals and students. If you’re looking for a good bop, the Hangar à Bananes (21 quai des Antilles, 02 4071 0879) sometimes has discos, or try Le Privilège (4 place Emile Zola) for electro/techno sounds. Le Lieu Unique (Quai Ferdinand-Favre) is great for contemporary culture in many forms, and when it reopens after renovation, the famous Théâtre Graslin will be well worth a visit.

Accommodation in Nantes

Nantes has a wide choice of accommodation, catering for all tastes and budgets. Lovers of traditional French style and spacious elegance should make for the 18th-century Hotel de France (24 rue Crébillon, 02 4073 5791), or for four-star contemporary opulence, the Mercure (4 rue du Couëdic, 02 5182 1000) with its lavish foyer. The sassy Hotel Pommeraye (2 rue Boileau, 02 4048 7879) is a well-placed, moderately-priced option with a young professional vibe. For an indulgent apartment break, spoil yourself at the Seven Urban Suites Cité de Congrès on the Île de Nantes (10 rue Konrad Adenauer) with free spa facilities, or try Park Suites (4 rue des Petites Ecuries, 02 2808 1020) in the lively Bouffay quarter.

Our favourites

 
Hotel Pommeraye Nantes

Hotel Pommeraye - 2 rue Boileau, Tel, +33 2 40 48 78 79

A decent two-star central hotel that isn't part of a chain? Hotel Pommeraye is cheap but has a sense of identity. Stylish, clean decor and furniture will fool you into thinking you've paid twice the price. There's Wi-fi access in all rooms

 
Hotel La Perousse Nantes

Hotel la Pérousse - 3 allée Duquesne, Tel: +33 2 40 89 75 00 

Central and funky, with designer furniture and glass wardrobes, this is boutique styling yet it is still affordable. It's the place to stay for someone who cares about whether the Barcelona sofa in the reception is original or reproduction. Even the meeting rooms have style.

 
Hotel Mercure Nantes

Hotel Mercure Nantes Central - 4 rue du Couedic, Tel: +33 2 51 82 10 00

Nantes isn't blessed with grand hotels in the way that other French cities are, but this reliable four-star hotel is smack in the centre of town yet still has ample parking and all the facilities you need for a business trip. The 162 air-conditioned rooms have Wi-fi and there are 10 meeting rooms and a restaurant.

Nantes is a wonderful place to explore on foot, but you may be glad of the efficient tram and bus service for visiting sights across the Loire River. Buy tickets at any stop and use them for both forms of transport or a quick boat taxi up the Erdre. Getting about by bike is a practical option: the Bicloo scheme allows you to pick-up and drop off all over the city.

If you’re interested in doing a lot of sightseeing, the Nantes Pass, available from the tourist office or online, will cut the cost of public transport and entrance fees. Unfortunately it excludes the 25-minute journey to the airport by shuttle bus.

Nantes Airport Information

Aéroport Nantes Atlantique

Website
www.nantes.aeroport.fr

Distance
The airport is located 10 minutes from the city centre.

Check-in
30 minutes prior departure.

Public transport
The Tan Air Shuttle links the centre of Nantes to the Airport with a journey time of around 20 minutes. A local bus service is also available and full details can be found on the airport's website.

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Car Rental
For exclusive discounts of up to 15%, rent from our exclusive car rental partner Hertz at Nantes Airport.

 
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Hertz Car Hire

Taxis
Taxis are available opposite Hall 1. Rates are approximately €25-30 to the city centre.

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