The city turned upside down by art, do the Voyage à Nantes
Playful and creative, vibrant and young, Nantes has been totally turned upside down by art! Located in the south of Brittany, it is just 45 minutes away from the Atlantic Ocean. One of the best ways to discover Nantes is by walking a green line that is literally painted on the ground throughout the city and that leads you to explore architectural, artistic, cultural and historical highlights. Visit its magnificent castle of the Dukes of Brittany, follow the footsteps of Jules Verne (born in Nantes) and ride on the Grand Elephant or on the mechanical spider at Les Machines de l’île. Enjoy a collection of 30 contemporary artworks displayed in the city and along the Estuary of the Loire!
To do, to see
The Castle of the dukes of Brittany
In the heart of the city’s medieval quarter, the Castle of the Dukes of Brittany now houses the Nantes History Museum, with an exhibition featuring hundreds of objects and interactive multimedia displays. In Room 32, the French artist Pierrick Sorin takes an unusual look at the history of the city.
The Machines de L'ile and the Sea World Merry-Go-Round
Located in the naves of the former shipyards, the Machines de l’île were set up as an artistic project and now consist in 3 different attractions: the Gallery, the Grand Elephant as well as the Carrousel (See Worlds Merry-Go-Round). This outstanding project merges the imaginary world of Jules Verne, the mechanical universe of Leonardo da Vinci and the industrial history of Nantes. It is now the top tourist attraction of the city.
“Art and landscape” This art trail is a unique collection of 30 artworks created by internationally renowned artists that enables visitors to discover the Estuary of the Loire and its diversity of landscapes, by boat, by car or bicycle. All along the 60 kilometre stretch of the estuary, between Nantes and the Atlantic port of Saint-Nazaire, the 30 artworks make this trail an absolutely original experience, and magnify a particular natural setting or landscape. The result is an unexpected combination of realizations and installations, like the Villa Cheminée of Tatzu Nishi, which seems to play with a neighbouring colossal power plant; or the Serpent d’Océan, a gigantic aluminium snake skeleton from Huang Yong Ping surging out of the sea, playing with the tides.
The Memorial to the abolition of slavery
This meditative path, unique in France, was designed by the artist Krzysztof Wodiczko and the architect Julian Bonder. It is punctuated by quotes in over 50 languages, from all ages and all places. 2,000 commemorative plaques serve as a reminder of every expedition ever made by slave ships from Nantes as well as slave trading posts in Africa and the Americas.
The Cathedral of St Pierre and St Paul
>The construction of this imposing building was spread over 457 years. This gothic style monument holds within its walls the tomb of François II and Marguerite de Foix, dukes of Brittany and parents of Anne de Bretagne
The Passage Pommeraye
Welcome to this 19th century architectural masterpiece, one of the most beautiful covered shopping arcades in Europe. As the new link between the Graslin cultural quarter and the retail quarter it has re-found its glorious past as well as its former décor after 2 years of renovation.
The Graslin Opera
Major work by Mathurin Crucy built in 1788. Pivotal to the town planning of the Graslin Quarter, it stands proud with 8 Corinthian columns supporting 8 muses all beautifully lit-up at night.
La Cigale Brasserie
For over 100 years, (opened in 1895) no artist and star with a show on in Nantes has missed coming to sit at one of the tables in this 1900 French brasserie. The setting and décor Art Nouveau of this listed restaurant is quite simply stunning. And the local food menu is up to standard too!
The Isle of Nantes
The isle of Nantes: Jean Nouvel, Daniel Buren, Jean Prouvé, Christian de Portzamparc… to name but a few, are some of the biggest international names in architecture who have drawn the outlines of this regenerating isle. Former industrial premises, now fully refurbished, stand alongside new buildings. The isle of Nantes is one of the major urban projects in France and now hosts most of the creative industries and new start-ups which flourish in the metropolis.
The lieu unique
Located alongside the Canal St Félix and close to the train station and the city centre, the former biscuits factory LU lives to the rhythm of an atypical art centre: the lieu unique. Trendy and lively, the place constantly organises exhibitions and concerts. A bar, a shop, theatres, a hammam as well as a day nursery can also be found.oof-top view of the town…
The ‘Tour Bretagne’ / Le Nid
Enjoy a stunning view over the city from Le Nid (the Nest), a roof-top balcony designed by the local artist Jean Jullien. Weighing 80,000 tons and soaring for 475 feet / 144 m, the Tour de Bretagne is the highest building of Brittany. The 32nd floor offers a 360° view over the metropolis. Le Nid provides a fun atmosphere: a huge white bird curls around the terrace, surrounded by egg-shaped furniture.
The former fishermen and sailors’ village of Trentemoult lies on the left bank of the river, opposite the port of Nantes. You can cross the Loire by Navibus and lose yourself in the colourful village, with its winding narrow alleyways and small restaurants with music and dancing. It’s a place where the Nantes locals come to get away from the city life.
The river Erdre
François I, called it the most beautiful river in France. On foot or by boat, let yourself be charmed by the remarkable natural scenery.
This tributary of the river Loire provides some beautiful walks between calming nature - with manor houses and stately homes popping up along the way - and the town. The river’s presence in town is an occasion to practice a variety of water sports and discover the river by canoe or paddle boat.
Festival La Folle Journée: February
Festival Hellfest (Clisson), June
Le Voyage à Nantes, Summer, July and August
Nantes becomes even more animated than usual with Le Voyage à Nantes, a poetic and surprising event that literally turns the city upside down by art!
Rendez-vous de l’Erdre, August - September
Noël au Château : December
Noël aux nefs: December
Nantes is tasty, with numerous markets offering a great diversity of local seafood, from langoustines to oysters, but also cheese, fresh vegetable, pastries and other delicacies. Many creative chefs have settled in Nantes and continuously reinvent the local cuisine.A few minutes outside the city, the vineyards are renowned for their refreshing, complex and expressive Muscadet wines.
Things to know
The savoury flavours: Vegetables (lamb’s lettuce, carrots, leeks..) - Seafood (crabs, scampis, oysters, mussels…) Fish (sardine, sea bass…) fish from the Loire - River (pike, pike perch, eel, elver…) Cheese (Curé Nantais, Mâchecoulais..)
The sweet flavours: BN or LU biscuits,berlingot sweets,rigolettes - and caramels with salty butter, fouace and Gâteau Nantais, chocolate, nantillais…
White wine: The Muscadet
Close to the Ocean, covering about 11,500 ha, the vineyard of Nantes is the cradle of the famous Muscadet wine and covers the largest wine producing area made from a single variety of grape anywhere in the world. The cellars are small, family run businesses; like the winemakers themselves, the wines are lively, cheerful and genuine.
Visit Nantes with City Card (Pass Nantes) 24h, 48h, 72h
Free admission to the main tourist spots / Travel free of charge on public transport
Coming to Nantes
By train / TGV : 2 hours from Paris – Montparnasse train Station, 4 hours from Lille and Bordeaux, 4 hours and 1/2 from Lyon, 5 hours 10 from Strasbourg
Nantes-Atlantique airport : 1h35 from Liverpool, 1h10 from London, 1h30 from Amsterdam, 1h30 from Brussels, 1h25 from Düsseldorf, 1h25 from Mulhouse-Bâle, 1h20 from Geneva, 1h35 from Milan, 2h05 de Barcelona, 1h30 from Madrid
As soon as you arrive, the airport shuttle takes you to the heart of the city ( 15 to 20 minutes).
Tel + 33 272 640 479 (from abroad) / Tel 0892 464 044 (0,34€/mn from France)