Read about the city

Nantes is a city on the river Loire in the Loire-Atlantique region. With around one million inhabitants in the urban area, it is the largest city in northwestern France. Nantes' strategic location has made it a port city for the area throughout recent history.

The Dukes of Brittany resided in the city for many centuries, and their castle is today one of the great sights of Nantes. After the union between Brittany and France in 1532, it was the French monarchs who used the castle as a residence, and you can see a beautiful statue of Louis XVI in the city today.

There are many things to see in Nantes, where Jules Verne was born in 1828. You can follow in the footsteps of the famous author or take other walks along the Loire, to some of the city's great churches or to the city's museums where the Musée d'Arts is an excellent art museum.

From Nantes there are many opportunities for good excursions. A trip to the Atlantic coast is always exciting, and here you can visit cities such as Saint-Nazaire, La Rochelle and Brest, all of which offer sights and a maritime atmosphere. You can also enjoy the countryside along the Loire or go to Rennes, the area's second largest city.

Other attractions

Passage Pommeraye, Nantes

  • Passage Pommeraye: The builder Louis Pommeraye built this fine shopping center in the years 1840-1843. The center still functions as a shopping arcade and is located between the streets Rue Santeuil and Rue de la Fosse.
  • Jules Verne's House of Birth/Maison de naissance Jules Verne: The author Jules Verne is one of Nantes' famous citizens. He was born in the house with the address Cours Olivier de Clisson 4, and it happened on February 8, 1828. Today you can see a memorial plaque on the house.

Church of the Holy Cross, Nantes

  • Church of the Holy Cross/Église Sainte-Croix: This church was built in the 1680s, and it is especially the large tower that is characteristic of the street scene. The church is known as the place where Jules Verne was baptized in 1828.
  • Jules Verne Museum/Musée Jules Verne: At this museum you can experience the author Jules Verne's life and works. He is known for many titles such as Journey to the Center of the Earth, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Seas and Around the World in Eighty Days.

Place Marechal-Foch, Nantes

  • Marshal Foch Square/Place Maréchal-Foch: In the 18th century, this fine square was laid out and built in the contemporary style. In the center of the square you can see the monument Colonne Louis-XVI, which shows King Louis XVI on top of a high pillar.
  • Exchange Palace/Palais de la Bourse: The Palais de la Bourse was built in the years around 1800 as Nantes' stock exchange. The building is located on Place de la Bourse, one of the city's cozy squares.

Graslin Theater, Nantes

  • Graslin Theater/Théâtre Graslin: On March 23, 1788, this beautiful theater building opened, where both plays and operas are still performed. The theater burned down in 1796, but was reconstructed and reopened in 1811 in connection with a visit by Napoleon to the city.
  • St Nicholas Basilica/Basilique Saint-Nicolas: This beautiful basilica was built 1844-1869 in neo-Gothic style. You can see a nice and bright interior and many beautiful details in the decoration.
  • Our Lady Bon Port Church/Church of Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Port: This church is one of the distinctive features of Nantes' skyline with the large dome, designed with inspiration from the Dôme in Paris. The church is from the middle of the 19th century.

Dobrée Museum, Nantes

  • Dobrée Museum/Musée Dobrée: In this museum you can see a large collection of art and things that Thomas Dobrée collected in the 19th century. Dobrée designed the museum building as his residence and as an exhibition space for the works in his collection.
  • Le Lieu Unique: This is an interesting center for contemporary art, housed in the old cake factory of the company Lefèvre-Utiles. The place is today known for its many cultural activities and for the beautiful tower that was built in 1909.
  • Botanical Garden/Jardin des Plantes: The Jardin des Plantes is a botanical garden with many beautiful plants. The current garden was founded in 1806 and you can see a palm house, over 200 year old magnolia grandiflora and much more.
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Nantes, Loire-Atlantique, France

Top attractions

Castle of the Dukes of Brittany, Nantes

  • Castle of the Dukes of Brittany/Château des ducs de Bretagne: These are the Dukes of Brittany's large and beautiful residence castle. The dukes lived here through the 1200s-1500s, and then the place was the seat of the French monarchs in the city. Today, the castle is open as a historical museum.
  • Nantes Arts Museum/Musée d’Arts de Nantes: This art museum is one of the finest in France, and here you can see works by i.a. Jan Brueghel the Elder, Peter Paul Rubens, Pablo Picasso and Vasily Kandinsky.

Nantes Cathedral

  • Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul/Cathédrale Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul: This is Nantes' Gothic cathedral, built from 1434, but only completed in 1891 after centuries of construction. The cathedral is typical of Gothic architecture with impressive interior dimensions.
  • Machines of the Isle/Les Machines de l’Île: Les Machines de l’Île is the name of several fantastic, mechanical constructions that can be seen on the central island, Île de Nantes. The constructions include a mechanical elephant 12 meters/39 feet in height.
Trips in the area

La Rochelle, France

  • La Rochelle: La Rochelle is a port city on the Atlantic Ocean. The city is cozy and offers several sights which in addition to the atmosphere include the area and the towers of the old port, the city gate Grosse Horloge and the German submarine base in La Pallice.
  • Saint-Nazaire: The city of Saint-Nazaire is located at the mouth of the Loire in the Atlantic Ocean, and many famous ships were built at the city's shipyards; eg SS Normandy, SS France and RMS Queen Mary 2. Here is also a submarine base, which the German Kriegsmarine built during World War II.

Rennes, France

  • Rennes: Rennes is a major city in eastern Brittany, with a history dating back over 2,000 years. There are many things to see and do in the city, where you should see Rennes' town hall, opera house and cathedral. In several places you can also see the city's old defensive walls.
  • Angers: In the town of Angers there are several sights to see in the cozy center. Here is i.a. Cathédrale Saint-Maurice, completed in the 16th century, and the Château d’Angers castle with its residence and solid fortress walls.

Brest, France

  • Brest: Brest is a port city in the westernmost part of France. It is also a large naval town, seen in the area with many historic buildings named Arsenal de Brest. You can also see the impressive walls and towers of the castle, Château de Brest, and the tower Tour Tanguy from the Middle Ages stands opposite the castle.
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Shopping
  • Centre Commercial Atlantis, Boulevard Salvador Allende, atlantis-nantes.com
  • Centre Commercial Beaulieu, Boulevard Général de Gaulle, beaulieu.klepierre.fr
  • Centre Commercial Paridis, 10 Route de Paris, paradis.fr
  • Passage Pommeraye, Passage Pommeraye, passagepommeraye.fr
  • Shopping streets: Rue Crébillon, Rue de la Fosse, Rue Decré, Rue de la Marne, Rue de la Barillerie
  • Market: Marché de Talensac, Place de Talensac
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