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Nantes Tourism And Travel Guide
11.5° C / 52.7° F
May to September
3 to 5 Days
Aeroport Nantes Atlantique
Gare de Nantes
The sixth-largest city in France, the administrative seat of Pays de la Loire region and the previous capital of Duchy of Brittany; Nantes is all that and so much more. Founded by the Celts sometime around 70 BC, Nantes enjoys a colourful history that has seen several reinventions of its identity and continues to remain a dynamic city even today, being one of the most desirable places to live in France. The arts and culture scene of Nantes holds considerable appeal for the contemporary youth population and draws tourists that are mostly made up of the same. Also named as the ‘most liveable city in Europe’ by Time magazine, Nantes combines a symphony of old-town values with new-age vitality to make this city a top contender in the ever-growing tourism industry. Here’s a brief travel guide for first-time Nantes visitors to help with planning a trip.
How to Reach
Aeroport Nantes Atlantique, previously known as Aeroport Chateau Bougon, is Nantes’ international airport with connections to several European cities. Since there are no direct flights between India and Nantes, travellers planning a trip from India can book connecting flights with stopovers in cities like Amsterdam, Munich, Paris etc. Airport shuttles can be used to reach the city centre or the train station from the airport.
Trains can be used to reach Nantes from European destinations like Paris, Lyon, Marseille etc. and are a cheaper way to travel; not to forget considerably picturesque as well. Rail networks like the high-speed TGV and the SNCF operate daily trains to and from Nantes.
For those fond of driving and willing to experience the scenic French countryside can hire cars from rental services all across European cities and drive to Nantes themselves. Alternatively, choose from a range of bus services like Eurolines, Flixbus and Ouibus etc. available from nearby cities to reach Nantes; buses can be booked online.
Weather & Best Time to Visit
Summer (June – August):
Packed with tourists almost all season long, summers are the busiest time of the year in Nantes. A pleasantly warm and sunny climate with minimal chances of rain ensures visitors the best opportunities for sightseeing and outdoor activities. Average temperature ranges between 15⁰C-27⁰C. Since it is peak season, expect to find higher rates in all commercial establishments.
Autumn (September – November):
Autumn trips to Nantes should be limited to the early months of the season, like September and the first half of October. The weather is still warm enough to enjoy all kinds of outdoor activities during this time while making the most of the lowered hotel rates and retreating tourist crowds. By the end of the season, the temperature dips to lower double-digit figures.
Winter (December – February):
Nantes winters are chilly with temperatures that range between 5⁰C-10⁰C. Winters also receive the most amount of annual rainfall, which should be kept in mind if planning a trip during this season. The main event that drives tourists to Nantes in winters is the annual classical music festival known as the La Folle Journee; the largest music festival in France.
Spring (March – May):
Spring is a great shoulder season to plan a short trip to Nantes. Initially cool, the temperature gradually grows warmer as summers approach. However, the weather is often unpredictable and a sunny afternoon can quickly get replaced by a rainy one, proving unfortunate for those with outdoor plans.
Things to Do
Tour the Chateau des Ducs de Bretagne:
This 13th-century castle is by far the most iconic monument in Nantes. The home of the Duke of Brittany for more than 300 years, the castle is surrounded by gardens and a courtyard that is free of charge for all to visit and a wonderful place to enjoy picnics on a warm summer afternoon. The top of the rampart offers panoramic views of the city from various angles, which appears even more exquisite with the impeccable lighting during night time. The Nantes History Museum here is a great place to learn more about the city’s heritage and its economic growth over the years.
Visit the Museums:
The Nantes Art Museum is the largest of its kind in France and includes collections of art from the 13th-century to the modern-day. The Natural History Museum consists of specimens from zoology, botany, ethnology and mineralogy, with a giant skeleton of a Rorqual whale being its major highlight. Fans of the writer Jules Verne, who was born in Nantes, can learn more about him in the Jules Verne museum; it is filled with the author’s personal belongings, original manuscripts of his work and other antique furnishings. Galerie de Machines is the place to head if you want to learn more about the workings of the animatronics on display at the Íles de Machines.
Enjoy a Picnic in the Parks:
Jardin des Plantes and the Íle de Versailles are two of Nantes’ most popular gardens, each with a distinct identity of its own. Jardin des Plantes features thousands of plant species along with trees that are a couple of hundred years old. The Palm House is a brilliant part of the park with exotic species of flowers and flora from around the world. The Island of Versailles is a great place to hang out that is, in contrast to Jardin des Plantes, relatively more peaceful and serene with lesser crowds as well. Visitors to this park will also find opportunities to enjoy boating and canoeing activities.
Where to Shop
A famous expression in Nantes is “crébilloner”, which is meant to describe window-shopping among the locals. The term has been derived from Rué Crébillon, the most iconic shopping street in Nantes that is located in the heart of the city centre. Visitors will find some of the chicest boutiques located here. Passage Pommeraye is a three-storey 19th-century building with a stunning design and some of Nantes’ fanciest shops, located close to Rué Crébillon. Shoppers on a budget should head to Rue du Calvaire, where they can purchase goods from France’s big-name retailers for a bargain. Place Bouffay is one of the oldest districts in Nantes, with tiny independent boutiques that are as much a treat for your eyes as they are for the shopping aficionado inside you.
Where to Eat
Nantes is packed with numerous cafes, bistros and restaurants that offer plenty of opportunities to travellers to try all kinds of local cuisine. Fish and different kinds of seafood is the region's speciality and go especially well with the locally-produced wines like Muscadet and Gros Plant. Top choices among French restaurants are L’Atelier d’Alain, Mademoiselle B, L’U.ni, and Les Pieds Dans le Plat.
Lulu Rouget is one of Nantes’ most innovative restaurants and was voted one of the best eateries in the region, while Le 1 brings together a fusion of Indian, Japanese and Chinese delicacies in a melting pot of cosmopolitan cuisines.