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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Coordinates: 47°13′05″N 1°33′10″W / 47.21806°N 1.55278°W / 47.21806; -1.55278

Commune of Nantes

Flag of Nantes
Coat of arms of Nantes
Traditional city flag City coat of arms

Motto: Latin: Favet Neptunus eunti
("May Neptune favour the traveller")

Cathédrale Nantes arrière.JPG
Saint Peter & Paul's Cathedral, Nantes
Nantes is located in France
Time zone CET (GMT +1)
Country France
Region Pays de la Loire
Department Loire-Atlantique
Arrondissement Nantes
Canton chief town of 11 cantons
Mayor Jean-Marc Ayrault (PS)
Land area1 65.19 km2 (25.17 sq mi)
Population2 283,025  (2007 census)
 - Ranking 6th in France
 - Density 4,342 /km2 (11,250 /sq mi)
Urban spread
Urban area 523.6 km2 (202.2 sq mi) (2008)
 - Population 580,502 (2007)
Metro area 2,242.6 km2 (865.9 sq mi) (1999)
 - Population 804,000 (2008)
INSEE/Postal code 44109/ 44000, 44100, 44200, and 44300
Dialling code 02
1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km² (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.
2 Population sans doubles comptes: residents of multiple communes (e.g., students and military personnel) only counted once.

Nantes (Breton: Naoned, Gallo: Naunnt) is a city in western France, located on the Loire River, 50 km (31 mi) from the Atlantic coast.[1] The city is the sixth largest in France, while its metropolitan area is the eighth with 804,833 inhabitants at a 2008 estimate.[2]

Nantes is the capital of the Pays de la Loire region, as well as the Loire-Atlantique département. It is also the most important city of the historic province of Brittany, and culturally still remains strongly identified with it.[3]

In 2004, the magazine Time described Nantes as "the most livable city in all of Europe".[4]


The name Nantes, pronounced [nɑ̃ːt] in French, derives from that of its pre-Roman-era inhabitants, the Gaulish tribe known as the Namnetes, who founded a town there around 70 BC. The city was called Portus Namnetus during the Roman occupation that began in 56 BC. The inhabitants of Nantes are known in French as Nantais ([nɑ̃tɛ]).

Nantes' most common nickname is as the Venice of the West (French: La Venise de l'Ouest, Breton: Venezia ar C'hornôg),[5] a name owing to its position on the river delta of the Loire, the Erdre, and the Sèvre (whose tributaries were infilled in the early 20th century).[6]


The Marité schooner at the Port of Nantes
L'île Feydeau

After having been occupied by the Gauls and the Romans, Nantes was Christianised in the 3rd century AD. The city was successively invaded by the Saxons (around 285), the Franks (around 500), the Britons (in the 6th and 7th centuries) and the Normans, who laid waste to it in 843: "The city of Nantes remained for many years deserted, devastated and overgrown with briars and thorns." The Chronicle of Nantes continues until the year 946, telling that Alain Barbe-Torte, grandson of Alan the Great, the last king of Brittany who was expelled by the Norse, drove them out and founded the Duchy of Brittany.[7][8]

When the Duchy of Brittany was annexed by the kingdom of France in 1532, Nantes kept the Parliament of Brittany for a few years before it was moved to Rennes. In 1598, King Henry IV of France signed the Edict of Nantes here, which granted Protestants rights to their religion.

During the 18th century, prior to abolition of slavery, Nantes was the slave trade capital of France. This kind of trade led Nantes to become the largest port in France and a wealthy city. When the French Revolution broke out, Nantes chose to be part of it, although the whole surrounding region soon degenerated into an open civil war against the new republic known as the War in the Vendée. On 29 June 1793 the town was the site of a Republican victory in this war. The Loire was the site of thousands of executions by drowning, including those using the method which came to be known as the Republican marriage, in which a man and a woman were stripped naked, tied together, and thrown into the river.[9]

In the 19th century, Nantes became an industrial city. The first public transport anywhere may have been the omnibus service initiated in Nantes in 1826.[citation needed] It was soon imitated in Paris, London and New York. The first railways were built in 1851 and many industries were created. In 1940, the city was occupied by German troops. In 1941, the murder of a German officer, Lt. Col. Fritz Hotz, caused the retaliatory execution of 48 civilians. The city was twice severely bombed by British forces, on 16 and 23 August 1943, before being liberated by the Americans in 1944.[10]

Until the 1970s, Nantes' harbour was located on the Île de Nantes, when it was moved to the very mouth of the Loire River, at Saint-Nazaire. In the subsequent 20 years, many service sector organisations moved into the area, but economic difficulties forced most of these to close. In 2001, a major redevelopment scheme was launched, the goal of which is to revitalise the island as the new city centre.[11]

Nantes seen from Spot Satellite

In 2003, the French weekly L'Express voted Nantes to be the "greenest city" in France, while in both 2003 and 2004 it was voted the "best place to live" by the weekly Le Point. In August 2004, Time designated Nantes as the "the most livable city in all of Europe."[4][12]


Nantes is located on the banks of the Loire River, at the confluence of the Erdre and the Sèvre Nantaise, 55 km (35 mi) from the Atlantic Ocean. The city was built in a place where many branches of the Loire river created several islands, but most of those branches were filled in at the beginning of the 20th century (and the confluence with the Erdre river diverted and covered) due to the increasing car traffic.

It is notable that the city of Nantes is at the exact centre of Earth's land hemisphere.

A panoramic view of Nantes (Butte Saint Anne)


About 50 kilometres away from the coast, Nantes has generally cool winters and mild summers, with rainfalls at least every week, which makes Nantes a temperate city, though winters can bring freezing temperatures and occasional hot spells in summer, especially during the month of July.[13]


Nantes is the préfecture (capital city) of both the Loire-Atlantique département and the Pays de la Loire région.

The Nantes metropolitan area (Nantes Métropole) is the intercommunal structure connecting the city of Nantes with nearby suburbs. It had a 1999 population of 554,478, 48.7% of which comprised the city of Nantes. The current mayor of Nantes is Jean-Marc Ayrault (PS), first elected in 1989 and now serving a sixth term, until 2014.[14]


Traditional houses on the Île Feydeau

Since 1995, Nantes has been divided into 11 neighbourhoods, each resembling a historic city quarter. Each of these neighbourhoods is controlled by a Comité Consultatif (Consultative Committee), comprising directly elected officials and a team of municipal members, similar to a New England board of selectmen. These neighbourhoods are:

  • Centre-ville
  • Bellevue-Chantenay-Sainte Anne
  • Dervallières-Zola
  • Hauts-Pavés-Saint-Félix
  • Malakoff-Saint-Donatien
  • Île de Nantes
  • Breil-Barberie
  • Nantes-Nord
  • Nantes-Erdre
  • Bottière-Doulon
  • Nantes-Sud

Nine of these neighbourhoods are situated on the right bank of the Loire, one is on the left bank, and one is on the Île de Nantes island.

Nantes and Brittany

Flag of the Pays de la Loire
Flag of Brittany

The city of Nantes, and the Loire-Atlantique département, were formerly part of the historic province of Brittany; Nantes was one of its traditional capitals, along with Rennes.[15]

Historically, the country around Nantes (French: Le Pays Nantais; Breton: Bro Naoned; Gallo: Paeï de Nàntt) was always seen as being part of Brittany. In 1207, the Dukes of Brittany made Nantes their home, building the Castle of the Dukes of Brittany on the banks of the Loire. Most of the dukes and duchesses were buried in either the cathedral or the nearby abbeys.

In 1789, the separation of the historical provinces of France resulted in Brittany being split in five; the lower of the five, Loire-Inférieure (today Loire-Atlantique) was where Nantes was situated. As such, Brittany as an administrative region did not exist during the 19th and early 20th centuries, although it did still exist culturally and informally.[16] When regional regroupments during the 20th century resulted in the reinstatement of the regions, Loire-Atlantique found itself split from the other four départements by the Vichy regime in 1941; a new région had been created centred on Nantes, the Pays de la Loire.

Much debate surrounding this move persists. Those against (sometimes called the Breton militants) maintain that the separation was made by a non-democratically elected government, and that Loire-Atlantique is culturally, historically and geographically united to Brittany; those in favour argue that any reunification would reopen a "quarrel of the capitals" between Nantes and Rennes, and that it would be fatal to the Pays de la Loire région.[17]

The issue of linguistics is also relevant; in the east of Brittany (variously called Bretagne Gallèse or Haute Bretagne) Romance languages especially the local Gallo, as well as French, have long had more influence than Breton. However, in many large cities, including Nantes and Saint-Brieuc, the Breton language has sometimes been spoken more widely than Gallo by the very urban and bourgeois population there (even though in Le Pays Nantais the opposite was true). In recent years, many bilingual plaques have appeared on tourist attractions in the city, with the help of the Ofis ar Brezhoneg (French: Office de la Langue Bretonne; English: Office of the Breton Language).

Most recently, on 15 May 2004, a hastily organized demonstration in Nantes calling for the reunification of Brittany attracted 6,000 participants, while in five surveys on the issue, between 62% and 75% of the population of Loire-Atlantique have come out in favour of reunification.[18]

In 2007, 1.3% of the children in Nantes attended the bilingual schools for primary education.[19]


Colleges and universities

  • Audencia Nantes; school of management
  • École d'architecture de Nantes
  • Ecole Atlantique de Commerce
  • École centrale de Nantes
  • École de design Nantes Atlantique
  • École de Management à Nantes (part of the IDRAC International School of Management network)


The first organized omnibus transit system within a city appears to have originated in Nantes in 1826.[20] The current network operated by Tan network includes three tramway lines, one bus rapid transit route (known as BusWay), dozens of bus routes, an express bus between Nantes Atlantique Airport, and the city centre (known as Tan Air), three navibuses lines and four suburban train lines (operated by SNCF and running on four intercity train lines within the city's limits). Longer distance travel throughout the Loire-Atlantique département is operated by Lila network, which runs interurban buses. The Tramway de Nantes originally began operation in 1879, but this first generation network closed in 1958. A new generation of tram lines opened in 1985, and the tram network is now the longest in France. The tram network, also part of the Tan network, shares a common ticketing system with buses and other modes within that network.[21]

Nantes railway station lies on a number of rail lines. Nantes is connected by TGV (high speed train) to Paris, Lyon, Marseille, Lille, and Strasbourg, with trains to Paris via the LGV Atlantique taking just over 2 hours. By Corail, Nantes is connected to Quimper, La Rochelle, Bordeaux, Lyon, and Toulouse. The regional trains and buses of the TER Pays de la Loire provide links to Saint-Nazaire, Angers, Le Mans, La Roche sur Yon, and many other regional cities.

Nantes was formerly a major commercial port, with port facilities on the River Loire in the city centre. Much of the commercial traffic has since migrated downstream, principally to the area around Saint-Nazaire, although the river remains navigable to ocean-going ships as far as Nantes. River cruises operate on both the Loire and its tributary the Erdre. The Tan network also includes three urban water bus routes on both rivers (known as Navibus).

Nantes Atlantique Airport, located 8 km to the south-west of the city centre, serves the city and surrounding areas. It is the biggest airport in western France, linking with several French and European cities, as well as Montreal in Canada and some northern Africa cities. It is currently planned that this airport will be replaced by the Aéroport du Grand Ouest, that will be situated 30 km to the north-west of Nantes in the commune of Notre-Dame-des-Landes. The €580 million project was approved in February 2008, with construction expected to start in 2012 and a opening date in 2015.[22]

Main sights

Castles, churches and mosques

The courtyard of the Château des Ducs de Bretagne
The cathedral
Sainte Croix church
Mosquée des Turcs

Nantes has two mosques:

  • Mosquée Arrahma
  • Mosquée des Turcs (photo)

A third (Mosquée Assalam) is under construction.


Historical places

  • The Isle of Nantes; a former shipyard turned into a leisure and cultural site, including the Machines of the Isle of Nantes permanent exhibition.
  • Passage Pommeraye; 19th century galleria with shopping.
  • Brasserie La Cigale; described by Jean-Louis Trintignant as "perhaps the most beautiful brasserie in the world."[23]
  • Place du Commerce; the city's main square.
  • Place Royale; a historic square located in the heart of the city, recently renewed.
  • Place Graslin; a historic place featuring the Theatre of Nantes and famous brasserie La Cigale.
  • Crebillon street and Orleans street lined with luxury boutiques linked by the Place Royale.
  • The new Palais de Justice (court house); built in 2000 and designed by Jean Nouvel.
  • La Tour LU (the LU Tower); a tower standing the entrance of the former Lefèvre-Utile biscuit factory.
  • Beaujoire Stadium; Nantes' largest sports stadium, home of FC Nantes Atlantique football club.
  • Le Marché de Talensac (Talensac Market); the main and historical public market.

Gardens and parks


Nantes has several cinemas including:

  • Gaumont Nantes; centrally located at Place du Commerce in the heart of the city.
  • Concorde; a historic cinema in central Nantes.
  • Pathé Atlantis; Nantes' biggest cinema, also located in the borough of Saint-Herblain, in the Atlantis commercial zone.

Concert halls

  • Nantes Zénith (concert hall); France's largest and newest, which can hold 8,500 people.
  • Théâtre Graslin (Graslin Theatre); Nantes' opera house & historic theatre.
  • Lieu Unique; located in the former LU biscuit factory.
  • Olympic; built in an old cinema in 1927.
  • Carrière; located in the borough of Saint-Herblain.
  • Trocardière; located in the borough of Rezé.
  • Onyx; located in the Atlantis commercial zone, designed by Jean Nouvel.
  • Pannonica.
  • Cité des congrès.
  • Terrain Neutre Théatre.
  • Bouche D'Air.
  • Theatre universitaire (University Theatre).


Japanese garden on the Île de Versailles, Nantes

Cultural events

Nantes hosts quite a few cultural events of note, of which these are just a few:

  • Estuaire, a contemporary art exhibition that takes place every two years between Nantes and Saint-Nazaire (along the Loire estuary).
  • Les Rendez-vous de l'Erdre, a jazz festival centered around the Erdre river.
  • Les rencontres du fleuve, a festival centered around ships and the river.
  • Le Festival Eidos du film d'environnement et de développement durable, a cinema festival themed around the environment and sustainability.
  • The Festival des trois continents, dedicated to African, Asian and South American cinema.
  • La Folle Journée, a classical music festival,
  • Les Utopiales, international science fiction convention,
  • The Festival Voisinages, various theatre performances (Théâtre du Grand T, Théâtre universitaire de Nantes, salle Onyx de Saint-Herblain).


The local football team is FC Nantes. During the 2007 Rugby World Cup in France, Nantes hosted a number of matches including England against Samoa and Wales against Fiji.


There are quite a few bands from Nantes who play different genres but are not well known outside of France.

The Celtic band Tri Yann was originally known as Tri Yann an Naoned (the three Johns from Nantes).
The DJ group C2C, champion of the Disco Mix Club World Team DJ Championship four years in a row (2003–2006)[24] is native of Nantes.

The American band Beirut, following with their European influences, have a song on their second album The Flying Club Cup titled 'Nantes'.

To see a list of Bands from Nantes, see fr:Rock à Nantes (French).


Nantes seen from Erdre river.

Local television channels

  • Nantes 7.
  • Télénantes.
  • France 3 Pays de la Loire.

Radio stations

  • Nova @ 87.8
  • Rires Et Chansons @ 88.4
  • MFM Sud Loire @ 88.8
  • Alouette @ 89.5
  • RFM @ 90.1
  • France-Inter @ 90.6
  • JET FM @ 91.2
  • Radio Prun' @ 92.0
  • Virgin Radio @ 94.7
  • FIP Nantes @ 95.7
  • Hit West @ 100.9
  • Radio France Bleu Loire-Ocean @ 101.8
  • NRJ @ 102.4
  • Fidélité @ 103.8
  • RTL @ 104.3
  • Europe 1 @ 104.7
  • France Infos @ 105.5
  • Cherie FM @ 106.2
  • Radio Classique @ 106.7
  • BFM @ 107.2

Local newspapers

Newspapers for sale:

  • Nantes Poche
  • Nouvel Ouest
  • Presse Ocean

Free newspapers:

Famous Nantais

International relations

Twin towns — Sister cities

Nantes has town twinning and cooperation agreements with:

Friendship relations

The city also has friendship relations with:



  1. ^ Nantes Hutchinson Encyclopedia. Retrieved on 14 August 2007.
  2. ^ Population des villes de France au dernier recensement Retrieved on 14 August 2007.
  3. ^ A New Luster in the Ancient Heart of Brittany The New York Times, 5 August 2007. Retrieved on 7 August 2007.
  4. ^ a b The Last Best Place In Europe Time Europe, 22 August 2004. Retrieved on 4 August 2007.
  5. ^ The Venice of the West Retrieved on 07-12-07.
  6. ^ Blue Nantes Retrieved on 07-12-07.
  7. ^ David C Douglas, ed. English Historical Documents (Routledge, 1979) "Secular Narrative Sources" pp 345f.
  8. ^ Chronicle of Nantes English Historical Documents. Dorthy Whitelock, David Charles Douglas. Routledge, 1996 ISBN 0415143667 Retrieved on 30-10-07.
  9. ^ Ruth Scurr, Fatal Purity: Robespierre And the French Revolution (2006) p. 305
  10. ^ "tourisme/culture - France - Nantes - histoire page". reception. 1941-10-22. Retrieved 2009-07-08. 
  11. ^ Revit Metropolitan Development
  12. ^ A recognized quality of life Business in Western France. Retrieved on 4 August 2007.
  13. ^ Climate information for Nantes Retrieved on 08-09-07.
  14. ^ "Ville de Nantes: Jean-Marc Ayrault". Retrieved 2009-07-08. 
  15. ^ Presentation of Nantes Published on 28-04-07. Retrieved on 07-12-07.
  16. ^ "Reviews of The Life and Science of Léon Foucault. The Man who Proved the Earth Rotates.". Retrieved 2009-07-08. 
  17. ^ Loire-Atlantique guide
  18. ^ "Does the Breton language have a future?". May 2004. Retrieved 2007-08-07. 
  19. ^ (French) Ofis ar Brezhoneg: Enseignement bilingue
  20. ^ Rodrigue, Dr. Jean-Paul. "Omnibus, Paris Late 19th century". Hofstra University. Retrieved 2007-08-09. 
  21. ^ Wansbeek, C.J. (January 2001). "Nantes expansion - City tram now a mature network". Tramways & Urban Transit (Ian Allan Ltd / Light Rail Transit Association). Retrieved 2007-08-09. 
  22. ^ "New Notre Dame des Landes Airport, Nantes, France". Retrieved 2008-07-24. 
  23. ^ Birkin, Jane (2003-02-09). "My favourite table". The Observer.,,889437,00.html. Retrieved 2008-03-21. 
  24. ^ DMC website
  25. ^ "Tbilisi Municipal Portal - Sister Cities". © 2009 - Tbilisi City Hall. Retrieved 2009-06-16. 
  26. ^ "Sister Cities Home Page".  eThekwini Online: The Official Site of the City of Durban

External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Nantes [1] is the capital of the north-western French region of Pays de la Loire. That said, Nantes has strong historical connections with the adjoining region of Brittany, and is the historical capital of the region (though not its official capital since the days of Napoleon).

Nantes seen from Quai de la Fosse
Nantes seen from Quai de la Fosse


Nantes was once an important port located 50 km up the Loire River. It grew rich on the triangular trade with Africa and the West Indies. Nantes is also famous for being the home of the science fiction writer Jules Verne. Rain is frequent, and beware if it's sunny because brief but fierce tempests have been known to appear unexpectedly. Always carry an umbrella or raincoat when going out. Winters are typically mild.

Several well known districts in Nantes:

  • Place du Commerce : This is the centre of the city and everybody will be able to direct you here. Near here you will find la Place Royale, le Quai de la Fosse, la rue Crébillon (famous for its posh shops)
  • Place du Bouffay : old Nantes, with many restaurants and known for foreign food. There are also many bars.
  • Talensac : famous for its market.
  • Decré : Á pedestrian shopping district close to Bouffay.
  • Ile de Versailles : An island in the river Erdre close to the city centre (reach it from Tram line 2). The entire island is a Japanese garden and is a pleasant place to relax.
  • Rue Crébillon : semi pedestrian street at the junction of la place Royale and la place Graslin, where the main clothes shops are situated. Pour ceux qui ne compte pas leur argent (for those who do not count their money).
  • Quai de la fosse : The red light district of Nantes. Called by locals Quai de la fesse (Quay of Buttocks).
  • Butte St-Anne : west of the place du Commerce, in the quartier de Chantenay. Old buildings and a view of the former port.
  • Le quai des Antilles : A nice place to get a drink. Lots of bars and restaurants.

To arrive or to look around

By plane

There is an international airport in the south of Nantes (Nantes-Atlantique) [2]. Regular connections to Paris, Lyon and other French cities. Ryan air and British Airways operate flights from London.

There are three ways to get to the airport from the centre of the town.

  • By bus (TAN AIR) which runs from the center of Nantes (Commerce) taking 20 minutes, or from the Nantes station taking 30 minutes (7€).
  • From Commerce take tram line 3 in the direction Neustrie
  1. from the terminus station "Neustrie", take the bus 37 which terminates at Nantes Atlantique airport (TEL 02 40 84 80 00). This will take around 35 minutes.
  2. get off at the tram stop "Pirmil", then take bus line 98 to the stop "Aéroport". This will also take around 35 minutes plus a two minute walk

The last two method just require the regular TAN ticket valid for an hour and will cost you 1,50€ (or less if you already have a day ticket etc.) Also, all tram stations have a very clear tram and bus map and you will easily be able to see these methods to get to the airport.

By train

Nantes is just over 2 hours (depending on the number of stops) by TGV from Paris passing through Le Mans and Angers. Trains run regularly throughout the day. There are also direct connections from Nantes to Charles de Gaulle airport and to Lille (stopping at Disneyland Resort Paris) which bypass Paris.

It is also possible to go to

SNCF information: 3635

  • Exit North: tramway to the city centre.
  • Exit South: pedestrian access to Nantes International Convention Centre.

By car

Car hire is available on many websites if you are travelling to Nantes.

By bus

The TAN public transport system links Nantes to several nearby burgs, as does the Lila system of regional buses. [3] (French)

  • Contact TEL +33 (0) 2 40 37 04 62 for detailed information about the cruises.
  • River Ferries (Navibus) Information & schedule TEL 0810 444 444 (TAN ticket valid for crossings.)

Get around

Public transport

There are very good public transportation services provided by the TAN (Transports de l'Agglomération Nantaise). It consists of 3 tram lines, a BusWay (like a tram line and numbered as such but with buses rather than trams), many bus lines, and several Navibus (public boats) lines. A one-way ticket costs 1,50€. Once on the bus, tram, or navibus you must validate the ticket in one of the green ticket validation machines. The ticket is then active for one hour with unlimited transfers. Tickets are cheaper if you buy them in bulk (a "carnet" of 10 tickets costs 12€) and there are also 24-hour (4€ for one person, or 6,5€ for 4 people). The trams start early and run till after midnight, later on Saturdays, however there are also several night bus lines.

By taxi

Nantes's taxi number is 02 40 69 22 22. There are designated taxi waiting spots near Place du Commerce and the train station, but taxi service is infrequent.

By bike

Nantes is a very bike-friendly city. There are bicycle lanes alongside most major roads, demarcated by green arrows, and many small streets and trails that are only accessible to pedestrians and cyclists.

Bikes can be rented from Nantes Métropole at one of eight parking lots in the city. You may rent a bike for 1€ for 2 hours, 4€ for a day, 10€ for a week, or 25€ for a month. Additionally, there is a 50% discount for holders of an SNCF or a TAN pass. [4] (French)

Bicloo [5], Nantes self-service bicycle network at 79 locations, offering 700 bicycles. Registration starts at 1€ for a day (with a 150€ deposit in case of damage to the bike), but you can only use the bike for 30 minutes at maximum, and there are no Bicloo stations outside of the Nantes area.

Cathédrale Saint-Pierre
Cathédrale Saint-Pierre
  • Château des ducs de Bretagne, (Castle of the Dukes of Brittany) - Nantes History Museum - Expositions. [6]
  • Cathédrale Saint Pierre and its two crypts where the treasures and the history of the cathedral are displayed. Next to the Château des ducs de Bretagne.
  • Musée des Beaux-Arts (Fine Arts Museum), Rue Clémenceau. Very beautiful building with an excellent art collection and temporary exhibitions.
  • La Chapelle de l'Oratoire. Rue Henri IV. Near to both the Castle and the Cathedral.
  • Place Maréchal-Foch. Contains one of the few exisitng statures of Louis XVI, the beheaded king, left in France
  • Le Passage Pommeraye. A shopping mall between la rue Crébillon and la rue de la Fosse built in the 19th century.
  • l'Ile de Versailles, a peaceful island in the Erdre with a Japanese garden.
  • Le Cours Cambronne. A few steps from la place Graslin containing imperial buildings.
  • La Place Mellinet. Contains some of the restored architecture in Nantes and consists of eight perfectly symmetric houses built around an octagon. 200 meters from Port and from Maillé-Brézé.
  • Place du Bouffay. A pedestrian area between the Castle of the Dukes of Brittany, Saint Pierre Cathedral et la Place du Commerce; ancient medieval quarter of Nantesvieux known for its Breton culture and for the pubs and restaurants.
  • Ile Feydeau, magnificent architecture of the 18th century. Shipowners' houses in the sculptured mascarons and the balconies of wrought iron illustrate the wealth accumulated at the time of the triangular trade.
  • Le Maillé-Brézé, a warship (which never saw a battle) which has been moored in Nantes for many years which is open to visitors [7]
  • The Jules Verne Museum, on the Butte Sainte Anne, which has just been completely restored. Has a very good collection of memorabilia and objects associated with Jules Verne. There is also a very nice view of the port of Nantes.
  • The new Palais de Justice on the Île de Nantes, designed by Jean Nouvel and built in 2000.
  • La Tour LU (The LU Tower) - a picturesque tower guarding the entrance of a former Lefevre-Utile biscuit factory.
  • The lieu unique, centre of atypical art shelters a restaurant, a bar, a shop, theaters, etc.
  • Musée Thomas Dobrée.
  • Le Jardin des Plantes (Garden of Plants), situated just outside the main train station (North exit).
  • Le Marché Talensac, the main town market, full of high quality local produce.
  • The Machines de l'Ile (Machines of the Isle of Nantes), an exhibition of fantastic mechanical animals including the Great Elephant on which you can take a ride. Take tramway line 1 to Chantiers Naval, then walk across the bridge. Price is around €6. [8]

Around Nantes

The beach, especially the resort town of La Baule, is only a short drive away or can be easily reached by train. There are often cheaper deals if you take the local trains such as the TER or Corail (as opposed to the TGV). You can also travel to the beach at Pornic, a very beautiful town and much less of a beach resort than La Baule. The salt swamps at Guerandes, where Breton sea salt is harvested, are worth a visit, as well, and feature an exhibit on the salt-harvesting process.

  • There are around 50 000 students in Nantes Metropole among which 32 000 students in the University of Nantes, the third multi-disciplinary university in France.
  • The city supports the research in the excellent domains of the town with 2 200 researchers and 200 research laboratories.
  • And 15 Elite Schools.


The "Maison de l'Emploi" of the Nantes metropolis was created on October 17th, 2005. This initiative allows to make employment more accessible and also to act against the discriminations in the districts where the unemployment rate is the highest.

  • La Frindande, 12 rue Paul Bellamy, from caramels, candies, jams to home-made chocolates.
  • Les Rigolettes nantaises, 18 rue de Verdun et rue Franklin, Nantes candies, chocolates and other regional specialities.
  • Bookshop of the Castle of the dukes of Brittany, place Marc Elder [9], artworks, objects, postcards and collections.
  • Lieu Unique Boutique, quai Ferdinand Favre, LU collections and artists' creations.
  • Tourist Office Boutique, 3 cours Olivier de Clisson et 2 place St Pierre, books, guides, postcards, regional specialties, etc.


Nantes has many restaurants! For its famous and finest wine and seafood. Also, this region of France is famous as the birthplace of crêpes. For a more savory variant, try the galettes de sarrasin (buckwheat crêpes).

  • Some cafés and crêperies offer affordable prix-fixe menus for lunch.
  • Cafe Moliere, located in the Place Graslin next to the Theatre Graslin, offers excellent lunch fare, including sandwiches, croques-monsieur (open-faced sandwiches with ham and melted cheese; a delicious variant is the croque-anana, which also features a pineapple slice), steak-frites (steak and French fries), and salads. Coffee and dessert are also available, and the restaurant becomes a bar at night. Get a table outside if Nantes is experiencing rare sunny weather.
  • La Cigale, situated in the Place Graslin, has been called "the most beautiful brasserie in France" for its turn-of-the-century decor. Seafood is a particular specialty (as in all of Nantes), and the chef can be seen preparing seafood in front of the restaurant, where there is outdoor seating during warmer months. Fixed price menus are available for 15 and €25. A cheaper way to experience this delightful place is to go in the afternoon for dessert and coffee.


Nantes's nightlife is concentrated in the Bouffay area, although there are also many bars and nightclubs near the Place du Commerce and the Théâtre Graslin.

  • Le Bar du Coin located next to the Église Saint-Croix, with an old-fashioned interior.
  • Les Fées Maison bar decorated in a fairy-tale theme, offering many unique cocktails and local beers, located near Place du Commerce, close to the tram stop.
  • La Maison bar decorated in the style of an old house. You can have a drink sitting in a bathtub in the "bathroom" of the house. Located on the rue Lebrun, a small alleyway off the rue du Maréchal Joffre near the Place Foch.
  • John McByrn's popular Irish bar in the quartier Bouffay.

Try Breton cider, similar to beer, which comes in either a brut or doux (sweet) variety. A variation is a kir bréton, which is cider mixed with a fruit liqueur (usually black currant, blackberry, or peach). The Nantes area is also known for its Muscadet wine, inexpensive but surprisingly delicious, which goes well with seafood dishes.

  • Youth Hostel, 2 place de la Manu, tram station "Manufacture" (line 1).
  • Camping du Petit Port, camping ground which can be reached by tram from the centre of the town.

When they are not full, sometimes the university residences will rent out rooms for a reasonable price. Contact the director of the desired residence to be sure. Visit CROUS Nantes [10] for more information. (link in French)

  • The Novotel hotel, 3 rue de Valmy, (+33)2/51820000, [11]. Near the Convention Centre and the train station, close to the castle and the Cathedral.
  • The Mercure hotel, 50/51 Quai Malakoff, (+33)2/40353030., [12]. A 3* hotel located in city centre, near Nantes' main train station. Ideal for meetings and conventions.
  • Hôtel Kyriad Nantes Centre, 8, allée du commandant Charcot, 44000 Nantes, 02 40 74 14 54 (Fax : 02 40 74 77 68), [13] inexpensive hotel with a good location in central Nantes; Canal Satellite TV, Wifi.
  • Ibis Centre Gare Sud, 3 Allée Baco, 02 40 20 21 20 (Fax : 01 40 48 24 64), [14]. Between the Château des Ducs de Bretagne and the Place du Commerce.
  • Ibis Tour de Bretagne,19 rue Jean Jaures, 02 40 35 39 00 (Fax : 01 40 89 07 74), [15]. Covered parking and a bar and restaurant, l'hôtel Ibis is close to the Tour de Bretagne.
  • Hotel Pommeraye, 2, rue Boileau, (+33)2/40487879. [16] A hotel located next to the Passage Pommeraye(shopping), free Wifi (and PC to use) in the lobby.
  • Westotel (***). [17] swimming pool and free internet. Can sometimes get a good deal.


The first part of the WIFI network covers the city center, lieu unique, SNCF train station, Ile de Nantes district. From the Nantes WIFI portal site, the access is free and directs towards some sites of practical information in Nantes Métropole (in English and French).

  • Hotel bookings
  • Cultural and tourist activities
  • Restaurants
  • Traffic information

Many bars and cafés also offer free Wifi to those with a laptop computer. Look for the WiFi logo in the windows.

Stay safe

Nantes is a very safe city in comparison to most major European cities. Police presence is reasonably visible and the trams are patrolled by TAN officials at night. Be prudent and exercise caution after dark. The European emergency number 999 is accessible in Nantes.


There is a very strong international presence in Nantes because of the many international students attracted by the large and well-known Université de Nantes. Every Wednesday evening international students meet at Buck Mulligan's bar to meet new people and socialise in a variety of languages. In addition, there are several Irish bars in Nantes in which the bartenders speak fluent English. Most Nantais are fairly friendly and will do their best to help you get by, although obviously they will be happier if you make an effort to communicate in French.

  • Guérande, a fortified city surrounded by Medieval walls. Guérande is also famous for its sea salt production.
  • Clisson, a small town with a ruined castle and an annual open-air heavy metal festival, Hellfest, in June.
  • Le Croisic, a small fishing town, also a short walk from the scenic Côte Sauvage.
This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
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From LoveToKnow 1911

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary



Proper noun


  1. A city in west France, in historical Brittany




Proper noun


  1. Nantes

Derived terms

Simple English

Nantes is a city in France on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. It is at the south western end of Brittany but it is in the Pays de la Loire region. Nantes has always seen itself as belonging to the (historical) region of Brittany. At the moment, it is the capital of Loire Atlantique , which is not part of the (administrative) region of Brittany. Furthermore, the Gallo language was historically spoken more than Breton in Nantes. Opposed to Breton that is a Celtic language, Gallo is a roman language, derivated from the ancient languages of Oïl spoken in Northern France. Nantes has about 280,000 inhabitants and a metropolitan area of about 550,000 people. Jules Verne was a famous citizen of Nantes

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