May 3, 2016

24-Hours-in-Nantes-hero Nantes at night – Image by Flickr user Falcon® Photography

 While I love exploring places that are a little off the beaten track, I’m also a big fan of anywhere that’s got an interesting history… just like Nantes! Nantes is a city located in north-western France in Upper Brittany, and I’ve been lucky enough to visit several times during my travels. This wonderful city has plenty to offer visitors, from its historic buildings to its modern restaurants and everything in between. Plan your getaway today, with my guide to 24 hours in Nantes.

A bit of history…

Once an industrial port city with a thriving shipbuilding industry, the Nantes we see today has certainly come a long way. Following the departure of the shipbuilders in the late 20th century, Nantes began its transformation into a modern, cultural city that attracts visitors from all over the world. Today, fine-dining restaurants sit alongside busy shopping arcades and beautiful gardens, punctuated by historic buildings and awe-inspiring monuments, which give a nod to the city’s past.


Being a big city, Nantes has many hotels to choose from, catering to every kind of budget no matter how big or small. For a luxury experience in a unique setting, I’d highly recommend Sōzō Hôtel. On the outside, it’s a 19th century chapel, but on the inside it has been converted into a magnificent 4-star boutique hotel with various room sizes and suites. Prices can be a little steep, but the experience is well worth it.


There really is so much to see and do in Nantes that it can be hard to decide where to start, which is why I’m here to help! If it’s a sunny day, I’d start with a walk through the Jardin des Plantes, Nantes’ Botanical Gardens, then I’d stop by the National Museum of Natural History, which can found within the gardens. For shopping, stroll down to the Passage Pommeraye, a 19th century shopping mall, where you’ll find a range of shops. 

The Passage Pommeraye.
Explore the Passage Pommeraye. © Flickr user Hervé


The Château des Ducs de Bretagne (Castle of the Dukes of Brittany) is a must-visit for anyone who goes to Nantes. This spectacular castle is situated in the heart of the city, on the right bank of the River Loire, within easy walking distance of many of Nantes’ other sights. As well as wandering through the castle itself, you can learn about the city’s history in the onsite museum, which, as a history lover, I find particularly interesting.

Nantes castle.
Visit Nantes’ own castle © Flickr user Daniel Jolivet


If there’s one thing you have to experience during your 24 hours in Nantes, it’s to visit Les Machines de l'île (Machines of the Isle of Nantes). Thought up by two designers, François Delarozière and Pierre Orefice, this unique attraction is a celebration of fantasy and mechanics. The focal point of the Isle is the 40 foot mechanical Grand Éléphant, which takes passengers for 30-minute rides. It’s incredible!

The mechanical elephant
The breath-taking mechanical elephant. © Flickr user Jean-Pierre Dalbéra


As anyone who’s visited France will know, this country has some of the best food in the world, which is why I enjoy sampling new restaurants wherever I go. In Nantes, the most famous and, in my opinion, best restaurant is La Cigale. This brasserie serves up typically French dishes – steak with bordelaise sauce and escargots – in a beautiful Art Deco setting. I love going here for dinner. For a midday meal, stop by Crêperie Heb-Ken for a crêpe or two. 

Art Deco surroundings of La Cigale
Eat a meal in the Art Deco surroundings of La Cigale. © Flickr user Jean-Pierre Dalbéra

Get there with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle

Crossing the Channel with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle takes just 35 minutes from Folkestone to Calais and, from there, Nantes is not too far away.

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