Centred around a medieval chateau along the Loire River, Nantes is the historical capital of Brittany. It’s home to fine museums and grand architectural landmarks, as well as a unique cultural park filled with artistically crafted machines.
Things to do in Nantes
The most prominent landmark in Nantes is the Chateau des Ducs de Bretagne, which served as a residence for the Dukes of Brittany between the 13th and 16th centuries. Admire its Renaissance loggias and ornate facades, then visit the Nantes History Museum to learn about the city’s 17th-century slave trade and 19th-century industrial developments.
Adjacent lies the Cathédrale Saint Pierre, a grand Gothic church built on the site of a Romanesque cathedral in 1434. Witness the tomb of François II and Marguerite de Foix in the right hand transept, then venture into the cathedral’s historic crypts.
Nantes’ former shipyards have been transformed with the fantastical Machines of the Isle of Nantes where you can jump atop a 12-metre-high mechanical elephant or ride on the aquatic-themed Marine Worlds Carrousel. Visit the Machine Gallery to learn about their construction or get a behind-the-scenes look at the ongoing building process in The Workshop.
Learn about the life and work of one of France’s most-loved novelists and playwrights at the Jules Verne Museum. It’s housed in a beautiful late-19th-century building overlooking the Loire River and features artefacts from his home and replicas of his inventions.
Getting around Nantes
Nantes is around 20 minutes’ drive from Nantes Atlantique Airport and is just over two hours by train from Paris. Trams and buses travel throughout Nantes and you can explore using its designated bicycle lanes.