Visiting Nantes

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Near the coast, Nantes is an area brimming with culture, history and a giant robotic elephant.

Some people think that Paris has a huge magnetic pull, dragging all points of French culture to its hallowed avenues. But, that just isn’t the case, and Nantes is the city that proves it.

Just under six hours from our Calais terminal, Nantes is a quirky and trendy city to spend a few days. From free galleries set up by international artists to a robotic museum, to beautiful gardens, there is plenty to keep you occupied.

La Villa Ocupada 

Established by twenty artists from around the world, La Villa Ocupada features dazzling bright art, covering the ceiling, walls and floor. The art reflects their political views, so take your time there to study the art to see what it represents. It’s free to enter, which is ideal if you’re travelling on a budget.

Les Machines de l’ile de Nantes 

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Don't be surprised if you see a robotic elephant in Nantes! Credit : DominiqueBillaud/LVAN

This is a real fantasy world, completely different to anything else you will come across in France, or possibly anywhere else in the world. The giant carousel, huge spiders and caterpillars, and other mind-blowing machines show just what can be achieved from science and engineering.

But the star of the show is The Grand Éléphant. This is a huge elephant that can take up to 50 passengers on a 40-minute ride through Les Machines de l’ile de Nantes, stopping off at the carousel and workshops along the way. The elephant ride really is a must, but remember to book tickets far in advance, as it’s understandably in high demand.

Jardin des Plantes 

Jardin

Come to the Jardin des Plantes for beautiful greenhouses and unusual plants.

On a warm day, make sure you spend some time walking through Jardin des Plantes. The garden was established in 1806, and its current form was developed in 1900. With over 11,000 species of plants and greenery, there’s plenty to see and do in the gardens. The greenhouses are also full of unusual and beautiful fauna, but be aware that there’s a charge to enter.

Cathédrale St-Pierre et St-Paul 

cathedral

The stunning cathedral is a must-visit, but make sure you also pop by the secret garden too.

Obviously, a trip to a French city isn’t complete if there isn’t a cathedral stop on the itinerary somewhere. Cathédrale St-Pierre et St-Paul is a gothic style cathedral, looming over Nantes. As well as a place of worship, it is also a tomb for François II, Duke of Brittany and his wife Marguerite de Foix. There is also a secret garden at the back of the cathedral you can rest in.

Musée d'Histoire Naturelle 

From tiny insects to a ginormous whale skeleton, all creatures large and small are on display at Musée d'Histoire Naturelle. There are lots of permanent collections on display, but there are also frequent temporary exhibitions too, so make sure you check what will be on when you visit Nantes.

What will you do first in Nantes? Head off on a robotic elephant ride, or go see a whale skeleton in real life? Whatever you choose, there won’t be a long wait as it only takes 35 minutes to get from Folkestone to Calais. Book your tickets with us early to receive the best price.