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