Gateway to the Atlantic
Nantes is the capital of the Western Loire region of France. It is also the historical capital of the Dukes of Brittany.
The fountain in central Nantes.
A fascinating and varied town, Nantes various quarters are steeped in history and its museums are rich in art collections. Don't miss the Gothic Cathedral with its ducal tombs, the passage of Pommeraye or the Graslin neighborhood and the rue Crebillon with its chic boutiques. Jules Verne, born here, has his own museum. To the south of the Loire, Gros Plant and Muscadet wines are produced.
Nantes, with a population of about 800,000, is considered the gateway to France’s Atlantic coast, but it is very much a river town, being right on the banks of the Loire. The locals have a Breton flair, though technically the city is just outside Brittany. The Breton spirit meant independence from the French king until the 16th century, and a resistance to the worst depredations of the French Revolution of 1789. As such, the locals are their own brand of French.
Nantes has an eclectic list of famous sons, from Jules Verne, to whom the city has dedicated a museum, to the top-scoring French soccer player of all time, Philippe Gondot. More ignominiously, Nantes prospered vastly from the slave trade until its abolition.
The city’s industrial base has had its ups and downs, and recent times have led to re-framing the city as a green destination, with excellent public transport, bike trails through the city and especially along the Loire river. Visitors can enjoy using the water bus which connects Nantes to other river cities along the Erdre and Loire rivers.
Centuries of international trade brought exotic plants from around the world, preserved in the city’s truly special botanical gardens.
As for food, you’ll be visiting the city where the delectable sauce beurre blanc originated, as well as the Petit Beurre biscuit. Local wine is from the Muscadet grape, and a typical lunch would include a galette, a heavy, more savory type of crepe made from buckwheat flour.
Interactive Nantes Map:
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