Located in Western France, on the fringes of Brittany and not not even close to the Western coastline, in france they town of Nantes isn't just one of the largest in France, but additionally probably the most overlooked. The place to find a stunning variety of eateries, a fantastic selection of museums, and more things you can do than you would have thought possible from an off the beaten path French destination, spending a weekend in Nantes couldn't be easier as an easy excursion from Paris.
And it gets better! Instead, Nantes is home to its very own airport terminal, which serves plenty of major European cities, in addition to some smaller airports across the region. The bus in the airport to the city centre is under an hour and affordable, while the Nantes main stop offers great transport links towards the remainder of France and beyond.
And, with regards to accommodation, there are plenty of accommodations in Nantes, and therefore the city would work for near enough every budget (this is especially the situation throughout the European shoulder seasons when the costs are lower- i.e. early in the year and autumn).
I personally stayed in Hotel La Perouse and was in no time charmed by this four-star hotel's central location and the charming views from my bedroom window- which were particularly beautiful come sunset time! Other great hotel choices in Nantes include this boutique hotel and this luxurious accommodation.
Friday Evening in Nantes
Arrive on Friday evening and allow yourself a several hours to refresh and check directly into your accommodation for the weekend. Unpack your things and relax before venturing out into town! To get the best food, my recommendation is always to head to the Bouffay district, where you’ll soon discover that this largely pedestrianised area offers a wide range of eateries, cafés, and bistros where one can grab a bite to consume.
When I visited the city, Personally, i started out my Friday evening by going to the Café du Passage (1 Place Félix Fournier), where I enjoyed a crisp glass of rosé in the shadow from the stunning Basilica by watching the planet go by. Even if you’re visiting Nantes on your own, you should know that it’s not unusual in France to sit down inside a café by yourself (though listed here are my best strategies for dining alone).
Afterwards, you can’t fail by heading to the cobbled Rue en Juiverie or rue du Ch^ateau, which both offer restaurants serving a wide range of cuisines. If you’re veggie much like me, then your noodles at My Little warung (8 Rue du Ch^ateau) are particularly delicious! I additionally particularly loved the food at Oncle Pho (9 Rue Saint-Léonard).
Saturday Morning in Nantes
Visit the Ch^ateau des Ducs de Bretagne
The very first thing you have to do whilst in the city would be to go to the Ch^ateau des Ducs de Bretagne (Castle from the Dukes of Brittany). Once upon a time, Nantes was the town where the Dukes chose to rule their Kingdom. Though the money is now administratively in the Pays de la Loire region of France, Nantes retains a distinctively Breton feel and is also where Anne of Brittany (twice Queen of France) resided.
To illustrate my point concerning the Brittany ambience from the city, when I was on a tour of Nantes (essential if you’re looking to learn more about its history), our guide for the afternoon asked us each to explain our first impressions of Nantes in only three words. The gentleman to my right answered having a simple “Brittany… or otherwise?”!! The ramparts of the Ch^ateau itself can visit, meander along, and offer one of the best views of Nantes.
During your time and effort at the Ch^ateau des Ducs, you should also visit the Nantes History Museum, which is housed inside the Castle walls. Spanning several rooms, the museum explores the city’s history, from Roman times right up until the present day. One area of the museum aims to educate visitors as to the part that Nantes took part in the slave trade.
Today, visitors can gain a sobering insight into the function the town played; Nantes was responsible for over 40% of France’s involvement within the transatlantic slave trade, an undeniable fact that the city finds it tough arrive at terms with. Around a ten minute leave, along the banks from the River Loire, Nantes presently has a Memorial to the Abolition of Slavery. Liberated to visit, this humbling underground urban path memorial has facts, figures, maps, and a timeline. More details concerning the Nantes slave trade can be found here.
Step inside Nantes Cathedral
Free to visit and simply among the best cathedrals in France, Nantes Cathedral is unique for the reason that it virtually burnt down during restoration works in the mid-twentieth-Century. As a result, much of a specific item today is really a reconstruction, including the majority of the magnificent stained glass which showers the ecclesiastical building in a variety of hues.
Luckily for the history buffs in our midst, some of the Cathedral survived the bombing of WWII and the subsequent (but unrelated) fire which happened during restorations. What's survived includes some impressive medieval doors, several chest tombs depicting effigies of those that lie beneath, not to mention, the crypt which has Roman roots.
Wander around the Bouffay District
After exploring all that the Ch^ateau and it is museum have to give you, take time to explore all that the Bouffay District provides during the daytime. Asides from the winding streets, independent shops, and hidden and forgotten courtyards, among the top things to discover may be the 'Eglise Sainte-Croix.
Boasting one of the most impressive belfries associated with a ecclesiastical building in the city, this church is free of charge to enter and is actually where Jules Verne was baptised, along with the location where his parents were married just a year prior.
Step inside at any given moment, and you'll soon also discover lots of stunning stained glass windows as well as a 19th-century traditional French Organ. Nearby, the Passage Sainte-Croix is definitely one of the best-kept strategies of Nantes and hosts unusual art exhibitions regularly.
Saturday Afternoon in Nantes
Head to Machines de l'Ile
To truly discover everything the Machines de l'Ile area of the city needs to cover, you'll want to dedicate a whole afternoon for this weird and wonderful tourist destination. So unique is that this Nantes attraction, that it’s singlehandedly places Nantes around the tourist map, with visitors from all around the world arriving within the city with the primary intention of discovering the Machines of the Isle of Nantes.
Since 2007, the La Machine production company continues to be producing impressively large constructions and fantastical mechanical creations around the former shipyards of Nantes. Particularly impressive projects of note include the 12-metre elephant on which 49 passengers could be transported over the island (be sure that you book your tickets ahead of time) and also the almost 25 metres high Marine Worlds Carousel.
Saturday Evening in Nantes
Enjoy a glass or two at Le Nid Nantes
End your entire day the proper way by taking in the very best view in Nantes. Found at the very the surface of the Tour Bretagne, Le Nid Nantes offers an indoor bar, as well as a wrap-around terrace that provides panoramic 360-degree views from the entire city.
Though the drinks really are a little pricier than at other venues across the city (and you’ll have to pay EUR1 for that privilege of using the lift and entering the bar), the vista a lot more than comprises for the fact! Standing at a dizzying height of 32 floors, in the top you may enjoy a bird’s eye outlook during the Cathedral, the typically Nantes architecture, and more.
Sunday Morning in Nantes
Explore the great finds which Nantes needs to offer
If you truly need to make probably the most of the weekend in Nantes, you very well may consider delving a deeper into the city on the more local level. What this might well mean will be on the lookout for some of the best-kept secrets and great finds that the French settlement has to offer.
Among the best from the beaten path places to find out include the hidden courtyard and garden of los angeles Psalette (a medieval mansion and secluded courtyard near to Nantes Cathedral), La Porte Sauvetout Medieval Gate (all that’s left from the once-grand medieval fortifications all around the city- nearby you can grab some of the best coffee in Nantes at GLAZ), and the free to visit secret gardens around the Ile de Versailles.
Go looking for new and vintage books
After you’ve wandered through Passage Pommeraye and discovered a few of the lesser-known gems the city has to offer, why don't you dive into newer and more effective and used bookshops and discover the town from the new perspective (and also to purchase some souvenirs to bring back home!)
During my solo visit to Nantes, I was particularly enthralled to discover an abundance of historic, quirky, and different bookshops in Nantes, and even were able to pick up several local history books for a very affordable price!
A personal favourite of mine was Coiffard Books, which is set across two sides of the pedestrian-only street. Boasting features for example oak panelling and books stacked from floor to ceiling, I had been particularly enthralled through the expansive travel section! Find all the details for opening times here.
Sunday Afternoon in Nantes
Take an excursion to Clisson
For people who desire to experience the start of the Loire Valley, a simple day trip from Nantes is Clisson. Pretty, picturesque with its own set of crumbling ruins and wealth of medieval history, this beautiful town has more than enough to entertain any traveller during the period of an afternoon.
From Nantes, it requires just under 30 minutes to achieve Clisson (should you choose to take the fast train). Otherwise, your way will stay around the same price and take under an hour in each direction. However you reach Clisson, then, some of the top highlights include going through the Italianate style Domaine de la Garenne Lemot & La Villa Lemot & La Maison du Jardinier and taking in the quiet ambience of the town.