VISIT NANTES: 10 must-sees during your escapade in the City of the Dukes of Brittany

visiter nantes la cité des ducs de bretagne

Looking for a city break combining culture, art and nature? What if you came to visit Nantes? Discover the must-sees during your stay in Nantes.

1 | Stroll through the Passage Pommeraye

Welcome to one of the most beautiful covered passages in Europe: the Passage Pommeraye! Opened in 1843, this luxurious shopping mall is located in the heart of downtown Nantes and is a great place to do some shopping. What is impressive here is the architecture. A huge glass roof, a monumental staircase, columns, statues… the whole decoration is splendid. And at Christmas, the atmosphere is even more magical with all the decorations.

2 | Visit Nantes and its downtown area

Another place not to be missed in Nantes: the Place Royale. It is here that takes place every year the Christmas Market of Nantes where you can taste mulled wine and tartiflette. It is one of the largest squares in Nantes. It is surrounded by buildings with classical architecture. In the center, there is a monumental fountain.

Place Graslin is also a great place to stroll. You will find the famous brasserie “La Cigale” with its amazing decoration and the majestic Graslin Theater. Just a stone’s throw away, don’t miss the Cours Cambronne where you can bask in the sun or read, in a sumptuous and quiet setting. The city center is also the perfect place for a shopping spree. You will find many luxury boutiques but also designer boutiques, especially on Crebillon Street. This street has given to the Nantes vocabulary the verb “crébillonner” which means “to hang out while shopping”.

Crebillon Street in Nantes
Graslin Theater in Nantes

3 | Coffee on a terrace

One of the unmissable rituals on Saturday afternoon or Sunday morning: start the day with a coffee on the terrace, and even better if it is accompanied by a pastry or a vanilla cabbage like at Maison Grimaud. Around Place Royale and Place Graslin, you will find many cafés with terraces where it is good to bask in the sun and start the day quietly, serenely. On the Ile de Nantes, you can also enjoy the terrace of the Louis Blanc bistro located just a stone’s throw from the Loire River.

4 | Walking in the parks

The Jardin des Plantes is the green lung of the city of Nantes. This botanical garden of a little more than 7 hectares located in the heart of the city, near the train station, is the ideal place to relax, stroll or read a book. You will find waterfalls, greenhouses and many other curiosities such as benches of different sizes and inclinations. The Japanese Garden is located on the Ile de Versailles, on the banks of the Erdre. A refreshing walk in summer between waterfalls and rocks, where children can have fun.

botanical garden in nantes
greenhouse of the botanical garden in nantes

5 | Museums and exhibitions

In Nantes, art is everywhere! Whether it is thanks to its many museums or thanks to the Voyage à Nantes during the summer. Among our favorites: the Nantes Art Museum, the Natural History Museum, the Naval Museum Maillé Brézé. Or the temporary exhibition “Onformative” that we had the chance to discover a few years ago. The list of museums in Nantes can be found on the website of the Tourist Office.

outstanding exhibition in nantes

6 | Outstanding sunsets

On the Erdre river in the spring or at the Hangar à Bananes facing the Loire during the summer. Nantes will offer you beautiful sunrises and sunsets, all year long.

7 | Visit the Cathedral of Saint Peter and Saint Paul

Real architectural jewel, the Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul Cathedral is a must-see during your stay in Nantes. You will be able to see several chapels, a marble tomb where the parents of Anne of Brittany rest in the south transept, the cenotaph of Lamoricière and several paintings. I love the Nave which is sumptuous with its high ceiling and its arches.

Following the fire that occurred in 2020, the Cathedral is now closed to the public for an undetermined period. Its renovation should begin at the end of 2021.

8 | Visit the Castle of the Dukes of Brittany

Another visit not to be missed in Nantes: the Castle of the Dukes of Brittany. This huge fortress now houses a museum where you can discover the history of the city in 7 sequences. The tour of the ramparts is free and offers a pleasant walk. You will have on one side the view on the water mirror and the Lu Tower and on the other side the view on the city.

Castle of the Dukes of Brittany in Nantes
Castle of the Dukes of Brittany in Nantes

9 | Take a tour of the Machines de l’Île

Created on the site of the former shipyards, the Machines de l’Île is an original artistic project initiated by François Delaroziere and Pierre Orefice which mixes the imaginary worlds of Jules Verne, Leonardo da Vinci, with the industrial history of Nantes. Young or old, the machines will impress you, especially the giant elephant! Don’t miss the Carrousel des Mondes Marins, a very original ride with its wooden sculptures.

10 | Follow the green line

Perhaps you have noticed this curiosity? This green line traced on the ground offers you a ten kilometers long route through the streets of Nantes, discovering emblematic places and artworks scattered in the city. Every summer, new ephemeral works of art appear on the route as part of the Voyage à Nantes. In 2020, our favorite was the “Rideau”, a real waterfall on the façade of the majestic Graslin Theater.

— Thanks to the Voyage à Nantes team for inviting us to spend a day together discovering the city.

art in Nantes - Voyage à Nantes
art in nantes - Voyage à Nantes

What are the places you want to visit in Nantes?

Where to eat in Nantes ?

For a brunch in Nantes, go to the Kinfolk and for dinner, go to La Cigale.

Where to stay in Nantes ?

For an unique night in Nantes, head to the Radisson Blu Hotel 4* located in the the old courthouse of the city.

What souvenir to take in your suitcase?

Berlingots and Rigolettes Nantaises.

How to get to Nantes ?

By train – Regular connections with Paris, Bordeaux, Rennes, Strasbourg…
By plane – The international airport Nantes Atlantique is located 20 minutes from the city center by shuttle. Service available 7 days a week. Count 9€ the journey.

When to go?

The climate is favorable to visit Nantes from April to October.

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