Located in western France on the Loire River, the city of Nantes has an extensive history as a port and industrial centre. Nantes is quite a large city but its historical centre is small enough to explore thoroughly on foot. It has a reputation for being innovative and has transformed itself into a thriving cultural and student hub.
Travellers will want to plan on visiting Nantes during the spring and summertime. These seasons are ideal as rainfall is minimal and the temperatures are warm. For those who don’t mind cooler temperatures, between September and November is a good time to consider visiting Nantes, as it is not peak tourist season and the city will overall be less crowded.
Nantes is the perfect destination for history buffs. One of its most popular attractions is the Chateau des ducs de Bretagne, a large 15th-century castle located in the heart of the city. It originally served as the centre of the historical province of Brittany, and the home to the Duke and Duchess, until its separation from Nantes in 1956. The castle now houses the Nantes History Museum and is full of archaeological, architectural, and historical exhibits. Jardin des Plantes is also located in the heart of Nantes and is considered to be one of the most remarkable gardens in France. It has around 10,000 species of plants within its seven hectares of gardens and is only a ten-minute walk from Chateau des ducs de Bretagne. The garden is spectacular with multiple greenhouses and trees that are over 200 years old.
Another must-see attraction in Nantes, that is especially unique, is Les Machines de L’ile. This one-of-a-kind artistic and touristic cultural project blends the invented world of Jules Vernes and the mechanical universe of Leonardo Da Vinci. Les Machines de L’ile features an assortment of huge interactive mechanical animals, structures, and amusement park rides. There is even a “Grand Elephant” that is 12 metres tall and can carry 52 passengers on its back while it walks. Les Machines de L’ile is located in an old shipyard and is the perfect place for people of all ages.
One of the great things about Nantes is it’s located fairly close to the countryside and the Atlantic Ocean. Therefore, if you want to escape the city for the day, it can be easily done. Beach lovers will want to check out the nearby seaside town of Saint-Nazaire that has several gorgeous beaches. Saint-Nazaire is just less than an hour from Nantes and can be reached by car or train.
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