Welcome to Nantes
Nantes was historically part of Brittany, but now is the capital of the Pays de la Loire région of northwestern France. Nantes is located on the Loire river at coordinates 47°13.00N, 1°33.50W in France.
Nantes city center is composed of about a quarter million people, with almost 3/4 of a million people inhabiting the metropolitan area of Nantes. Nantes is the 6th largest city in France, and is considered one of the most desirable places to live in France, especially for young professionals who enjoy the arts and don't want to live in Paris. For the traveler, this means the nightlife in Nantes is quite lively.
Nantes is served by many train lines, including the TGV line from Paris Montparnasse. There is an airport, Nantes Atlantique Airport. A shuttle connects the airport with the city center and Sud railway station, making the trip in about half an hour. There are a variety of hotels near the train station, backed by pleasant botanical gardens. Nantes has the largest and one of the longest-running tram systems in France.
The Nantes Card may save you money when visiting Nantes attractions and taking guided tours. The Nantes Card is available in three durations, 24, 48 and 72 hours. Read more on the Nantes Card.
The region's vineyards produce wines such as Muscadet and Gros Plant, both excellent with fish and seafood. Try oysters with the local Muscadet. Fromage du curé nantais is a cows milk cheese developed by a priest near Nantes, and is also excellent with Muscadet.
A restaurant recommended highly is Brasserie La Cigale 4, place Graslin (face à l’Opéra) in Nantes.
The historic center of Nantes is easily walkable, or, if your hotel is close to the train station, you can just hop a tram. The cost of a tram ticket was 1.30 Euro in 2006. You can buy a booklet of 10 tickets for just over 10 Euros. The bargain may be in the 24 hour ticket for 3.30 Euros. List of Prices (Tarif)
We stayed at the Hotel de la Gare (book direct) near the train station and botanical gardens of Nantes. While the hotel isn't really special, the new owners, Mr. and Mrs. Archer, are extremely dialed in to the history and attractions of Nantes, and were extraordinarily helpful to getting us to the main attractions.
If you don't land near the train station, I highly recommend the Hotel Pommeraye (book direct), not so far from the Passage Pommeraye in the center of Nantes.
Nantes Tourist Attractions:
One of our favorite trips was lunch at La Cocotte in Verre on the Ile de Versailles, then a short walk to the docking station of the Bateux Nantais for a relaxing tour down the Erdre river, with its famous mansions on both sides and lots of folks enjoying the water on a summers afternoon. See our picture gallery for more.
Other Recommended Attractions of Nantes
Nantes Cathedral Saints Peter and Paul - Begun in 1434, the Gothic cathedral wasn't finished until the end of the 19th century. After a 1972 fire the interior was restored. Inside the cathedral's 11th century crypt is a museum of religions.
Château des Ducs - Nantes' castle is currently undergoing resoration. Slated to be constructed inside is the Museum of the History of Nantes and its Region, projected to open by 2008. Nearby is the place du Commerce, a largely pedestrian area that offers a good array of restaurants. We enjoyed Le Petit Bacchus, in the shadow of the Chateau.
Passage Pommeraye - a passage between two streets with different elevations, the rue Santeuil and rue de la Fosse, begun in 1840, now containing interesting shops and cafes.
The Museum and the native house of Jules Verne - If you like the writing of Nantes own Jules Verne, don't miss the museum with mulimedia exhibits on the Butte Saint-Anne, 3, Rue de l'Hermitage in Nantes.
Musée des Beaux-arts - The highly celebrated fine arts museum is built around an airy courtyard and features works ranging from the Italian Primitives to contemporary artists.
La Tour LU (LU Tower) - a picturesque tower built in 1905 and restored in 1998 near the entrance of a former Lefevre-Utile biscuit factory. You can visit inside to see a panoramic view of Nantes.
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