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’.
More

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

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.

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 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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