Driving guides

Driving to Nantes from Calais

Take a road trip to Nantes in north-western France and see some of the country’s finest historic cities and landmarks.

With its bustling mix of modern art, nightlife, eateries and historic buildings, the quirky, trendy city of Nantes is an ideal destination for anyone travelling to the north-west of France. There is history and culture, wonderful museums, amazing architecture – and a mechanical elephant! At the head of the Loire Valley, Nantes is also a great spot from which to explore this beautiful region of wineries and châteaux.

Nantes is also a host city for the 2023 Rugby World Cup. Four matches will be played at the Stade de la Beaujoire, so rugby fans will want to know more about driving from our terminal at Calais to Nantes.

Here is our guide to the main routes from Calais to Nantes, all of which have stretches on toll roads.

How long does it take to drive from Calais to Nantes?

The drive westward will take 6-7 hours, depending on which route you take. We all need to take a break from time to time on any long drive, but there are numerous opportunities to stop for longer, perhaps even overnight, at some of the places you pass through or near.

The fastest route – via A28 and A11

The fastest route to Nantes will take around six hours 20 minutes. Take the tried and trusted A28 via Rouen, before dropping down onto the A11 for the last leg to Nantes.

Places to visit en-route

Rouen

What can we say about Rouen that hasn’t been said before? Rouen is such a delightful place, with its half-timbered houses, cobbled streets and Gothic spires, and history around every corner. There is the Gros-Horloge, the astronomical clock from the 14th century, the Joan of Arc exhibition in the Archbishop’s Palace, and the cathedral that so inspired Claude Monet he painted it 30 times.

The Place du Vieux Marché is where Joan met her end, but today it is the square to grab a coffee, some lunch or a refreshing beer at any one of its numerous b ars, restaurants and cafés.

Angers

Angers old town in France

Don’t look back in Angers! Stop here and soak up the history oozing out of a city that once was the seat of the Plantagenet royal house. It is a place of atmospheric highs and lows. Make sure you see the staggering ‘Apocalypse tapestry’ down in the basement of the castle, and climb the steps up from the castle ramparts to the Cathedral Saint-Maurice. There are some remarkable buildings that survive from the medieval period, such as the Hôpital Saint-Jean and La Maison d’Adam, as well as a botanical theme park (in one of France’s greenest cities).

Angers is just over an hour’s drive from journey’s end in Nantes.

The A84 via Le Havre and Mont Saint Michel

This route takes you through some of Normandy’s finest rolling countryside and most interesting towns and cities. Expect to be driving for around 6 hours 45 minutes.

Points of interest en-route

Caen

Medieval castle with impressive round towers

The historic city of Caen was founded by William the Conqueror, and more or less destroyed during the Battle of Normandy in World War II. So it is brimming with interest for history buffs. The Abbaye aux Hommes, an English-style abbey, was the initial resting place of William before being ransacked in the 1700s, and the Chateau de Caen was the home of the Conqueror and the place where he hammered out much of his strategy and policies.  

The Caen Memorial Museum offers moving insights into what life was like during wartime, and is one of the best memorials in Europe. Caen is also known for its art, boutiques, markets and restaurants.

Mont Saint-Michel

Family groups walking on a causeway towards an island on a hill, Mont Saint-Michel, with an old well preserved abbey or castle at the peak

If you have time, take a short detour off the A84 to wonder at the majestic sight of Mont Saint-Michel, the island commune in Normandy. Its abbey, perched high on the island’s hill, has been the inspiration for countless fairytale and mythical castles. You can walk to the island along a walkway at low tide and spend a few hours exploring the warren of shops, historic buildings and eateries perched around the lower reaches of the island, as well as climbing up to the abbey.

Make sure you’re back on the walkway before high tide!

The A11 via Paris and Le Mans

If you are in no hurry, there is a more leisurely drive from Calais, via the capital. The travel time is around 7 hours 20 minutes, and takes in the medieval cathedral city of Chartres and Le Mans, site of one of the world’s most famous motor racing circuits.

Places of interest en-route

Chartres

A door of a cathedral full of elaborate stone carving and many carved figures

Around 4 ½ hours into your journey you will reach Chartres, a city famous for its spectacular medieval cathedral. It was called a ‘masterpiece’ by UNESCO when it became a World Heritage Site in 1979; the art historian Kenneth Clark considered it ‘the epitome of the first great awakening in European civilisation’.

You do not have to go inside the cathedral to appreciate its great beauty. The west door features what Clark called ‘the most beautiful congregations of carved figures in the world’. Inside there are more untold riches, including one of France’s holiest relics, the tunic reputed to have been worn by the Virgin Mary at the Annunciation.

How much are the tolls from Calais to Nantes?

You should expect to pay around €60 in tolls each way driving from Calais to Nantes.

An Emovis tag will help speed up your passage through the tolls. We have an exclusive offer saving customers €10 on the application fee of an Emovis tag if you if you apply with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle.

Drive to Nantes with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle

Your journey to Nantes starts with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle and a crossing from Folkestone to Calais in only 35 minutes. Then you’re behind the wheel in France. Check out our full range of driving guides for road trips across the country.

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