Nantes, Brittany

City Guide


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Nantes © Allan Macdonald


Attractively situated on islands in the estuary of France's mighty Loire River, the city of Nantes exudes an air of importance and historical significance which makes it an interesting holiday destination. Although not officially part of Brittany any longer, Nantes has always been regarded as the Breton commercial and maritime centre, once a springboard for exciting colonial expeditions, shipbuilding and trading. Today Nantes remains a wealthy industrial port, with its architectural heritage reflecting its past achievements, from the medieval remnants in the narrow streets of pedestrianised Bouffay, near the castle of the Ducs de Bretagne, to the magnificent stained-glass windows of its impressive cathedral. The city also has some good museums, including its own Musée des Beaux-Arts, which has a fine collection of sculptures and paintings from the 12th to 19th centuries, and the Musée de Jules Verne, which contains memorabilia of the famous futuristic novelist, who was born in Nantes. There is a lot to see and do in this historic, busy city and there should be something for everyone. One of the most fun attractions is Les Machines de L'ile which is a creative combination of the invented worlds of Jules Verne, the mechanical inventions of Leonardo da Vinci, and the industrial history of the city itself. It is located in the former shipyards.