Hello and welcome back to all our fav travelers. After exploring Paris and having rested enough to recover all the energies, we are ready to start a new journey. Today we are headed to Nantes. Let’s present it.
Nantes is the capital of the department of Loire-Atlantique (Breton department of the French Republic) and is divided into seven cantons. Because of its many islands and canals, it gets the nickname of western Venice. Historically, the city has so much to tell and there is much to see and walk around. As a matter of fact the city there is a prevalence of green areas that will allow you to stay in close contact with nature. There are also always many events and lots of art. Anyway we don’t want to reveal everything now, we will do it slowly during our tour; however we want to start our adventure in this way, showing you the motto of the city (very inherent in what we are dealing with) that is: “Favet Neptunus eunti”, it means Neptune favors the traveler. What better motto to start our journey!
Per sapere di più (dove mangiare, cosa mangiare, dove divertirsi, dove acculturarsi…) continuate a leggere.
To find out more (where to eat, what to eat, where to have fun, where to learn…) read on.
Are you ready? We start with the beauties to visit in the city.
PLACES TO VISIT (MUSEUMS/THEATERS…)
- Cathédrale Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul de Nantes: it is the cathedral of the city in Gothic style and is classified as historical monument. The interior has light and bright colors that make this sacred place very beautiful, also having the characteristic of being minimal in its architecture but rich in valuable content. The external facade, despite the restoration phases, hasn’t lost anything of its original beauty. If you would like to visit other churches, maybe because your personalized tour requires it, certainly this cathedral is not the only place of worship in Nantes but there are other beautiful churches to visit such as: Basilique Saint Nicolas, Saint-Clément or Église Sainte-Croix de Nantes.
- Château des Ducs de Bretagne: Castle of the Dukes of Brittany is a medieval-renaissance style building located on Place Marc-Elder. The castle is built in granite and white tuff, which gives it an elegance and a refinement of other times but also that fabian air that always makes you return a little children. What you see outside is only a part, once you enter the first thing you will notice is its large courtyard with its beautiful towers more visible from that area. The castle also houses a museum about the history of the city of Nantes.
- Musée des beaux-arts de Nantes: the city’s art museum which houses a vast collection of works ranging from primitive to contemporary artists. The collections mainly concern European painting and in particular Italian painting. In addition to this, there are also several sculptures in the museum. The interior of the building is very bright thanks to its predominant white color which gives it a great elegance.
- Le lieu unique: center for contemporary culture is housed in an ancient biscuit factory in the city center (where the city’s famous biscuits were baked, but we will tal about this later). It is a very effervescent place full of culture and where there are several sectors simultaneously: theater, music, philosophy, literature, architecture, digital culture; this place is home to many events and shows indeed, it also houses a bar. The structure itself has kept the appearance of the factory, but not one of the industrial ones, it looks like more artistic. Beautiful!
- Mémorial de l’Abolition de l’Esclavage: it is an underpass filled with testimonies, dedications, captions, historical notes, all referring to slavery in the world and its subsequent abolition from many parts of the planet (it is a very strong topic). It is a very interesting and reflective place, a real meditative journey that will surely strike you.
- Musee d’histoire naturelle de Nantes: the city’s natural history museum. Where you are, it is clear from the entrance where above the main door there are illustrated some pelicans and just as architecture suggests the place you are about to enter. Inside there is a world; historic rocks, fossils, dinosaur skeletons, birds, polar bears and other showcase animals (replicated so well that they almost seem alive!). If you are a lover of this kind of things or you are in the sector or if you have children this is certainly for you.
- French destroyer Maillé-Brézé (D627): it is a destroyer, a ship that has now become a museum and historical monument. It has also recently been the site of a film about the Second World War directed by Christopher Nolan. This ship has a lot to tell, so to hear its history you just have to add it to your list!
- Planetarium of Nantes: the Nantes planetarium, located on the right bank of the Loire, shows astronomical themes and offers visual sessions and each of these sessions is adapted to a certain type of audience, based on age or level of knowledge. Inside there are three large meteorites, showcases with models, robots, rockets and so on. The planetarium offers rocket models, “3D” postcards, sky maps, real meteorites, themed books and various gadgets. The planetarium also intertwines a network among local actors such as the University of Nantes, the Natural History Museum… The exterior looks like a dome flanked by a small courtyard. There are many beautiful things to see and learn, go there!
- Psallette: is a palace classified as a historical monument located in the city center, behind the Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul cathedral. The building is in tuff and granite (as we have seen, this type of architecture is very present in the city). The visit offers an interesting historical and architectural reading of the facade. The Psallette Garden is also part of the structure, a very nice and well-kept garden to visit.
- Château de la Gobinière: if you want to visit a beautiful castle, this place is right for you. Just a few minutes away from the center, the castle offers the opportunity to admire a vast amount of very original exhibits breathing some royal air.
- Unité d’Habitation de Rezé: it is a building located on the outskirts of Nantes, you could say why this palace is so particular? Well, we are about to find out. Externally the skyscraper is gray except in the internal parts of windows where each apartment has its own color. It has eighteen floors and is placed in the center of a green area. Internally the apartments are identical to each other, with an inverted “L” composition and in addition you will have the opportunity to visit one of them. The corridors on each floor are really wide. Anyway, the structure not only houses apartments but also various rooms including, a kindergarten, a gym and in addition an outdoor auditorium, a gymnastic path, a solarium that we recommend you to visit as the view up there is truly wonderful, a beautiful part of the palace. Here nothing is left to chance but everything studied in every detail and all this we owe to the architect Corbusier.
- Le gru Titan: these are two disused cranes located west of the Ile de Nantes, in the former shipyard along the banks of the Loire. These cranes are testimony to the industrial history of Nantes. We have the yellow crane and the gray crane that today are owned by the city of Nantes and are classified as historical monuments for two main reasons such as: the historical criterion linked to the development of the region and the representative criterion of industrialization. So even what may seem “banal” cranes have a bit of history to tell.
- So, we want to close this session by letting you know the famous “green line” of the city. What is this? It is a line that crosses the city, as well as a guide that will lead you step by step towards the unmissable and most important treasures of Nantes. All you have to do is trust and follow this smart line that will take you right where you want or need to go.
As for the theaters we have: Théâtre Graslin, Théâtre de Poche Graslin, Le Grand T, Théâtre du Cyclope, Cité des congrès de Nantes.
Le lieu unique
Les Machines de l’Île
One world: entertainment!
- We start this session with Les Machines de l’Île which represent a tourist attraction of the city. It is a series of mechanical creations depicting animals such as elephants, dinosaurs or large birds. These represent the industrial history of Nantes. These structures can be visited but they are not free, however if you do not want to go up there, it is still worth the visit. It is perfect if you have children too, they will surely love all this.
- Jardin des plantes de Nantes: it is a botanical garden located at Rue Stanislas Baudry and is open every day for free. Today the garden contains more than a thousand species of plants, bushes in shape of animals, ponds, waterways (such as fountains and waterfalls) and various paths and pavilions. There is also a beautiful greenhouse that contains cacti and trees including citrus trees (we can’t list the others because we don’t remember them all haha!).
- Jardin Ile de Versailles: it is a beautiful japanese style public garden, very well-kept, with beautiful colors and lots of peace. A perfect reconstruction of the gardens of the oriental countries with lots of small temples, small gardens, water nymph ponds. The garden is located on the Isle of Versailles, in the center of the Erdre river which goes through Nantes. We take this opportunity to tell you that there will be the possibility of renting a canoe or boat for a pleasant trip on the river. What a unique opportunity!
- Parc de la Gaudiniere: to the north of the city there is this beautiful wooded park full of colorful flowers (especially the magnificent rhododendrons) and trees with lots of nice paths. In addition to this, the park has a castle and an area where you can have a picnic and where occasionally you can meet some goose or peacock. Fauna and flora, perfect combo. Like this, other nice parks to go to are: Parc de Procé, Park La Beaujoire, Parc de La Morinière and Parc du Plessis-Tison particularly suitable for those who have children as the area offers an outdoor swimming pool for the little ones.
If you are a lover of wild nature, pure nature, wide nature… ok you got it, go to the Petite Amazonie de Nantes and you will surely be fascinated by it.
- You can give yourself a tour with the possibility of excursions, small “cruises” at les bords de l’Erdre, the most beautiful river in France as considered by the french themselves. You can also stop for refreshment and choose to have a picnic or eat in the nearby restaurant. If you have time not so far from here, you can visit La Maison de blanche Neige, a truly fairy place, it will seem to be in fairy tale. Such a beauty!
- Belvédère de l’Hermitage: this belvedere is very particular. It is a wooden structure, with the shape of a kind of nest supported by a narrow and long walkway. Of course it is for those who do not suffer from vertigo because you have a truly free, clear, wide vision of the city. What a show!
- Going far and wide through the city you can meet some of the following places: Tour Bretagne, a skyscraper located in the center of Nantes, an unknown part to visit. Place Royale, the large square that encloses the historic center of the city (with a fountain in the center and the bell tower of Saint Nicolas behind it) from which some main streets branch off. Quartier Bouffay, a charming area with medieval streets. Passage Pommeraye (it is a wonderful gallery) or Rue Crebillon or Galeries Lafayette for a full of boutiques and ateliers. The Porte Saint-Pierre is the city gate, which almost reminds the entrance of a castle and think that it is a true find, one of the city’s remains that is still intact. Éloge du Pas du Côté, a particular statue with one foot outside and one inside and is located at the Place du Bouffay. Furthermore, you have to visit Marche de Talensac at Place de Talensac, which is the largest market in the city which takes place once a week; also on weekends there is a flea market around Place Viarme.
- If you plan to start a path on foot or by bike, the material here is very wide: Sèvre Nantaise, a path along what is the main tributary of the Loire. The river runs through some important places and through its paths there will be local fauna, fishermen, windmills and so on. All this as for land; “by sea” Nantes offers several panoramic excursions on the Loire and Erdre admiring the sunset or enjoying an excellent dinner on board. For example, you can rely on the Marine et Loire Croisières a company which will also take you to Estuaire, a place full of contemporary art to live a dreamlike, a surreal dream. If all this is still not enough, we suggest you an excursion to the Île Forget. However if you want something funny to do but in the city, the escape room John Doe Escape Game Nantes is for you.
Nantes has a lively and young nightlife, ready to satisfy everyone. One of the most popular neighborhoods is Bouffay district.
Let’s see in detail the different places:
- Le Floride: night club.
- Le Royal: night club.
- Attika Club: disco.
- Club CO2 Origin: disco.
- Le Bilboquet: night club.
- Warehouse: night club.
- SC Club Nantes – Bar Club lounge
So now we just have to find out something about the typical dishes of this french city.
- Gigot d’agneau à la Bretonne: it is a meat dish, to be specific it is a lamb roasted with beans, tomatoes, garlic and onion.
- Moules marinières: surely you have tasted this dish at least once in your life, but maybe not in this way. The dish is based on mussels cooked in white wine with the addition of onion, butter and parsley. Particular and good!
- Le rillettes: this dish is in spreadable form and this compound contains pork and goose, there is also a variant made of salmon, seasoned with other flavors. It is often served on bruschetta or absolute to accompany a dish. Think that it is a protected geographical indication and so how can you not try it?!
- Tarte Tatin: it is an apple pie but a little particular. The apples on the surface are caramelized in butter and sugar before cooking the cake, which gives the cake a different appearance from the traditional one. All this, is the result of a legend, of a “wrong” procedure. Such a pleasant mistake!
- Petit Beurre: the only and inimitable biscuit, the symbol of Nantes. We have already mentioned this before, it is a dry biscuit produced in the former LU factory (that we saw before). In addition to being tasty, its shape is not random, it is edged with 52 teeth (like the weeks in a year), has 4 corners (like the seasons), measures 7cmx7cm (like the days of the week) and presents 24 dots (like the hours in a day). This biscuit is studied in detail that almost seems a pity to eat it!
WHERE TO EAT (RESTAURANTS/CAFE’…)
To taste some typical dishes we must go to some good place to do it, and here they are:
- Le Bistro des Enfants Nantais: French cuisine.
- Le Lion et L’Agneau: French, European cuisine.
- Le Reflet Nantes: French cuisine.
- Cuit Lu Cru: French, European, vegetarian cuisine.
- Le Bistrot Basque: French, European cuisine.
- Le Bouquet Garni: French, European cuisine.
- Creperie Ker Breizh: French, European, vegetarian cuisine.
- Bagel Corner: fast food with French, vegetarian cuisine.
- Le Nid: bar with a paronamic view.
We have come to the end of our trip to Nantes, despite this, the French one is not over yet. Where will we be headed for our next adventure?? Just guess!
Let us know your opinions about this place. If you liked it or not, if you’ve been there or you’re going to go there? What you liked the most or least? We’re curious to read your opinions.
A big kiss to everyone.
Below we will list the accommodations that you can find in Nantes.