Nantes: France’s Most Livable City with a Plethora of Surprises to Offer


Explore the beautiful city of Nantes in Western France with a rich history, arts scene, and a unique blend of modern and ancient architecture. Discover top attractions like Château des Ducs de Bretagne and Les Machines de l'île, and uncover hidden gems like Île de Versailles and Passage Pommeraye.

Nantes is a beautiful city in western France, located on the Loire River. It is a city with a rich history, culture, and arts scene. The city is full of surprises and offers a great mix of modern and ancient architecture, green spaces, and trendy cafes. Nantes has been voted as the most livable city in France, and it’s easy to see why.

There are so many things to do and see in Nantes, making it a must-visit for travelers. From the magnificent Castle of the Dukes of Brittany to the famous Les Machines de l’île, this city has something for everyone. In this article, we will explore some of the top sights and little-known places that make Nantes such a special destination.

Top Sights in Nantes

  1. Château des Ducs de Bretagne – The Castle of the Dukes of Brittany is a must-visit when in Nantes. The castle was built in the 15th century and is now a museum that tells the story of Nantes and Brittany. Visitors can explore the castle’s ramparts, towers, and impressive courtyard, which are all beautifully preserved.
  2. Les Machines de l’île – This unique attraction is a must-visit in Nantes. It’s an art installation that combines mechanical sculptures with fantasy elements. The star attraction is the enormous mechanical elephant that takes visitors on a ride through the city. This is an attraction that’s sure to leave a lasting impression.
  3. Jardin des Plantes – This beautiful botanical garden is the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. The garden covers 7 hectares and is home to a wide variety of plant species. Visitors can also explore the greenhouses, which are home to tropical and Mediterranean plants.
  4. Musée d’arts de Nantes – This museum is a must-visit for art lovers. The museum has an extensive collection of paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts from the 13th century to the present day. It’s a great place to discover the works of famous artists such as Picasso, Monet, and Chagall.
  5. Cathédrale Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul – This stunning cathedral is a masterpiece of Gothic architecture. It was built in the 15th and 16th centuries and is the largest cathedral in Nantes. Visitors can explore the cathedral’s interior and admire the beautiful stained glass windows.

Little Known Places in Nantes

  1. Île de Versailles – This small island in the Loire River is a hidden gem in Nantes. It’s a peaceful oasis in the middle of the city and is home to a beautiful Japanese garden. The garden is perfect for a relaxing stroll, and visitors can also enjoy a cup of tea in the traditional tea house.
  2. Passage Pommeraye – This elegant 19th-century shopping arcade is a must-visit for those who love architecture and shopping. The passage is lined with high-end shops and boutiques, and the glass roof allows natural light to flood the space.
  3. La Cantine du Voyage – This trendy restaurant is a hidden gem in Nantes. It’s located in an old shipping container and offers a great selection of local and international cuisine. The restaurant is also a social enterprise that provides training and employment opportunities for young people.
  4. Le Lieu Unique – This cultural center is housed in an old biscuit factory and offers a wide range of events, including concerts, exhibitions, and workshops. It’s a great place to discover the local arts scene and mingle with the locals.
  5. Le Nid – This quirky bar is located on the 32nd floor of the Tour Bretagne and offers stunning views of the city. The bar is known for its giant bird sculpture, which serves as both seating and a lookout point. It’s a great place to relax with a drink and take in the city’s skyline.

Why Nantes is a Must-Visit

Nantes is a city that offers a unique blend of history, culture, and modernity. It’s a city that’s easy to explore on foot or by bike, with plenty of green spaces and pedestrian areas. Nantes has a vibrant arts scene, with numerous museums, galleries, and cultural centers.

One of the things that make Nantes special is its commitment to sustainability and eco-friendliness. The city has a strong focus on green initiatives and was named the European Green Capital in 2013. Visitors can see this commitment in action with initiatives such as the city’s electric tram system and the many green spaces throughout the city.

Nantes is also a city that’s easy to reach. It has its own airport, with regular flights to destinations throughout Europe. It’s also well-connected by train, with high-speed trains to Paris and other major cities.

In conclusion, Nantes is a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to France. From the impressive Castle of the Dukes of Brittany to the unique Les Machines de l’île and the peaceful Île de Versailles, this city has something for everyone. With its rich history, vibrant culture, and commitment to sustainability, Nantes is a city that’s sure to leave a lasting impression.