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.
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.
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 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 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.
Aéroport Nantes Atlantique
The airport is located 10 minutes from the city centre.
30 minutes prior departure.
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.