Nantes travel guide

Nantes Tourism | Nantes Guide

You're Going to Love Nantes

Brittany's capital is a cultural center, a beautiful historical city, and well within range of the province's gorgeous coastline. Add in family attractions and superb food, and you can't go wrong with a visit to Nantes.

Top 5 Reasons to Visit Nantes

1. It Has Such a Rich History

By turns a Roman bishopric, France's major Atlantic port, an industrial powerhouse, and now a cultural magnet, Nantes has seen plenty of history. Be sure to find out all about it at the Castle of the Dukes of Brittany.

2. There Are Great Family Attractions

Nantes is a wonderful family destination, mainly thanks to the Machines de l'Île de Nantes amusement park. This outlandishly wacky workshop features huge robots and animal figures, as well as plenty of enjoyable rides.

3. There's No Shortage of Museums

If you enjoy museums, Nantes is the place to be. See paintings by Rubens or Brueghel at the Fine Arts Museum, check out the decorative arts at the Dobree Museum, and see 1.6 million specimens at the huge Natural History Museum.

4. The Breton Coast Is Very Close

If you want to hit the beach, La Baule is a few minutes from central Nantes, but it's even more rewarding to visit Pornic - a classic Breton fishing port with excellent eateries.

5. It's a Vibrant Cultural Center

From the street theater of the Royal de Luxe company (featuring gigantic puppets) to sculpture parks by the Loire and La Folle Journée, a winter classical music festival, culture is everywhere in Nantes.

What to do in Nantes

1. Les Machines de l'île: See Mechanical Wonders

A product of François Delarozière and Pierre Orefice's imagination, Les Machines de l'île merges Jules Verne's imagined worlds, da Vinci's mechanical masterworks and Nantes former industrial glory. The park features, among others, The Great Elephant; a 45-ton wood and steel mechanical structure, which can carry 49 passengers on a 45-minute walk; The Marine Worlds Carousel; a 25-meter-high carousel featuring 35 moving underwater creatures on three levels; and The Heron Tree, a 28-meter-high steel structure crowned with two herons that visitors can mount to fly over the hanging gardens.

2. Château des ducs de Bretagne: Revisit the History of Nantes

In the heart of Nantes, the Château des ducs de Bretagne is considered the city's most renowned building. A medieval fortress with 500 meters of curtain walls topped by seven towers, the palace (originally built in 1207) was constructed of sophisticated white tufa stone. The interior houses seven sequential exhibits which cover the history of the castle and the region, the city of the river and ocean, the black gold trade, the French Revolution, the industrial port, the world wars and the city today (and tomorrow...).

3. Jardin des plantes: A Green Paradise

Dating back to 1688 (the city's first botanical garden) Jardin des plantes is a former royal garden for exotic plants containing 11,000 species distributed along ponds, waterways, paths and an artificial mountain. The grounds feature a collection of statues, pavilions, fountains and cascades. Among the most remarkable specimens, you can find 219-year-old southern magnolias, 150-year-old tulip trees, giant sequoias, coast redwoods, 140-year-old horse-chestnuts and London planetrees as well as varieties of strawberry trees, hornbeams ginkgo trees and American sweetgums. The greenhouses host a remarkable collection of African and Asian orchids, citrus trees and cacti.

4. Musée des Beaux-Arts: See Its Timeless Treasures

Dating back to 1801, the Musée des Beaux-Arts was recently reopened after an extensive six-year renovation. The museum features more than 12,000 pieces, encompassing primitive to modern art and including masterworks by Claude Cahun, Fernand Léger, Gaston Chaissac, Georges de La Tour, Giuseppe Penone, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, Max Ernst, Nan Goldin, Pablo Picasso, Raymond Hains, Sonia Delaunay and Vassily Kandinsky among others.

5. Le Lieu unique: An All-in-One Cultural Center

The national center for contemporary arts and music, Le Lieu unique, housed in a former cookie factory in the city center, hosts visual arts, theater, dance, music, literature, architecture and cuisine exhibitions. The center is also home to a bar, a restaurant, a bookshop, a Turkish bath, a nursery and a gift shop, and it features a spectacular view from its iconic tower

1. Les Machines de l'île: See Mechanical Wonders

A product of François Delarozière and Pierre Orefice's imagination, Les Machines de l'île merges Jules Verne's imagined worlds, da Vinci's mechanical masterworks and Nantes former industrial glory. The park features, among others, The Great Elephant; a 45-ton wood and steel mechanical structure, which can carry 49 passengers on a 45-minute walk; The Marine Worlds Carousel; a 25-meter-high carousel featuring 35 moving underwater creatures on three levels; and The Heron Tree, a 28-meter-high steel structure crowned with two herons that visitors can mount to fly over the hanging gardens.

2. Château des ducs de Bretagne: Revisit the History of Nantes

In the heart of Nantes, the Château des ducs de Bretagne is considered the city's most renowned building. A medieval fortress with 500 meters of curtain walls topped by seven towers, the palace (originally built in 1207) was constructed of sophisticated white tufa stone. The interior houses seven sequential exhibits which cover the history of the castle and the region, the city of the river and ocean, the black gold trade, the French Revolution, the industrial port, the world wars and the city today (and tomorrow...).

3. Jardin des plantes: A Green Paradise

Dating back to 1688 (the city's first botanical garden) Jardin des plantes is a former royal garden for exotic plants containing 11,000 species distributed along ponds, waterways, paths and an artificial mountain. The grounds feature a collection of statues, pavilions, fountains and cascades. Among the most remarkable specimens, you can find 219-year-old southern magnolias, 150-year-old tulip trees, giant sequoias, coast redwoods, 140-year-old horse-chestnuts and London planetrees as well as varieties of strawberry trees, hornbeams ginkgo trees and American sweetgums. The greenhouses host a remarkable collection of African and Asian orchids, citrus trees and cacti.

4. Musée des Beaux-Arts: See Its Timeless Treasures

Dating back to 1801, the Musée des Beaux-Arts was recently reopened after an extensive six-year renovation. The museum features more than 12,000 pieces, encompassing primitive to modern art and including masterworks by Claude Cahun, Fernand Léger, Gaston Chaissac, Georges de La Tour, Giuseppe Penone, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, Max Ernst, Nan Goldin, Pablo Picasso, Raymond Hains, Sonia Delaunay and Vassily Kandinsky among others.

5. Le Lieu unique: An All-in-One Cultural Center

The national center for contemporary arts and music, Le Lieu unique, housed in a former cookie factory in the city center, hosts visual arts, theater, dance, music, literature, architecture and cuisine exhibitions. The center is also home to a bar, a restaurant, a bookshop, a Turkish bath, a nursery and a gift shop, and it features a spectacular view from its iconic tower

Where to Eat in Nantes

Nantes (and Brittany in general) is a great gastronomic destination. Upscale bistros like Pickles rub shoulders with even more expensive brasseries like La Cigale. LuluRouget is another great bistro, while Café Le Molière is an affordable alternative. In general, you'll pay between EUR20 and EUR40 for a good meal.

When to visit Nantes

Nantes in March
Estimated hotel price
$112
1 night at 3-star hotel
Nantes in March
Estimated hotel price
$112
1 night at 3-star hotel

Beach lovers should visit around July or August to enjoy Brittany at its best, but everyone else can enjoy Nantes at any time of year.

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Temperatures
Temperatures
Average
Celcius (°C)
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How to Get to Nantes

Plane

Nantes Atlantique Airport (NTE) offers low-cost connections to Paris and is close to the city. Take the TAN AIR bus (EUR7.50) or take a taxi for around EUR40-50.

Train

High-speed TGV trains run from Paris to Nantes in around two hours and can cost as little as EUR20.

Car

From Paris, take the A10 to Chartres then switch to the A11. Take the A10 north from Bordeaux, then the A83 at Niort.

Bus

Flixbus and Eurolines both run buses directly from Paris to Nantes, which take around 4 hours 35 minutes.

Airlines serving Nantes

Lufthansa
Good (2,377 reviews)
American Airlines
Good (4,508 reviews)
KLM
Good (359 reviews)
Air France
Good (439 reviews)
Delta
Excellent (3,167 reviews)
SWISS
Good (492 reviews)
Iberia
Good (965 reviews)
Qatar Airways
Good (1,319 reviews)
TAP AIR PORTUGAL
Good (598 reviews)
Finnair
Good (738 reviews)
Ryanair
Good (1,829 reviews)
Vueling
Good (399 reviews)
LATAM Airlines
Good (835 reviews)
ITA Airways
Good (156 reviews)
Aeromexico
Good (772 reviews)
Aer Lingus
Good (467 reviews)
easyJet
Good (631 reviews)
Aegean Airlines
Excellent (195 reviews)
WestJet
Good (585 reviews)
Royal Air Maroc
Good (147 reviews)
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Where to stay in Nantes

Place Graslin - the shopping center of Nantes, Place Graslin is the place to go to hunt down the city's finest food, with restaurants like La Cigale.

Popular Neighborhoods in Nantes

Île de Nantes - located on an island in the River Loire, the Île de Nantes is also home to the Machines de l'Île de Nantes - Nantes' finest family attraction.

Bouffay - part of Nantes' historic center, Bouffay is full of atmosphere - largely thanks to its high concentration of lively bars and clubs like Flemings and La Maison Café.

Where to stay in popular areas of Nantes

Most booked hotels in Nantes

Radisson Blu Hotel, Nantes
Excellent (8.2, Excellent reviews)
$202+
Aparthotel Adagio Nantes Centre
Excellent (8.1, Excellent reviews)
$114+
Campanile Nantes Centre - Saint Jacques
Good (7.9, Good reviews)
$99+
Appart'city Confort Nantes Centre
Good (7.3, Good reviews)
$91+
hotelF1 Nantes Est La Beaujoire
Good (6, Good reviews)
$60+
See all hotels

How to Get Around Nantes

Public Transportation

TAN provides buses, trams, and ferries along the Loire, and one-hour single tickets cost EUR1.50 on every form of transport.

Taxi

Expect taxis in Nantes to charge a meter drop of EUR3.85, followed by EUR2 per mile after that.

Car

Car rental companies in Nantes include Enterprise and Avis, where you can rent a vehicle for around EUR20 per day.

The Cost of Living in Nantes

Shopping Streets

Nantes' liveliest shopping street is definitely Rue Crébillon, which is home to department stores, fromageries, and craft stores, but walk on to reach the beautiful Passage Pommeraye, which is home to a cluster of independent boutiques.

Groceries and Other

Supermarkets in Nantes include Carrefour and Monoprix, where 12 eggs will cost you around EUR2.40.

Cheap meal
$20.62
A pair of jeans
$148.92
Single public transport ticket
$2.75
Cappuccino
$4.11