The must-see attractions of Nantes and its region
Nantes is amazing, this small town does nothing like the others and certainly not rest on the laurels of its history and let the air of time pass by! It has endowed its prestigious Château with a modern and interactive museum, its shipyards have transformed into a magical world populated by extraordinary creatures, the former Lu factory has become one of the most prominent experimental sites on the artistic scene and even its old swamps have been transformed into a Japanese garden! And yet it has not lost any of its guile that can be found at the Talensac market, in the small villages around or in the cellars set up near the Muscadet vineyards. A very surprising city that keeps reinventing itself with the same enthusiasm that we can recognize in Brittany!
1- Château des Ducs de Bretagne
Residence of the Kings of France since Francis II, the Château des Ducs de Bretagne proudly sits in the historic heart of Nantes. This imposing building has two faces, that of a military fortress on the city side that preserves a very Gothic elegance, on the courtyard side, where the premises of the Renaissance appear. Today, you can visit this completely restored jewel and discover the Nantes history museum that it houses. Through 1,150 objects, it recounts the role played by Nantes in slave Europe, the daily life of the Nantes people during the two World Wars and the stories of major local industries. Hats off to its superb modern and immersive scenography, the visits are exciting.
No. 2 - St. Peter and St. Paul's Cathedral
Few religious worksites in France lasted so many centuries: the construction of Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Pau Cathedral began in 1457 and was completed 457 years later! It is one of the last Gothic cathedrals in France and behind its white facades there are vaults 37.5 metres higher than those of Notre-Dame-de-Paris. It preserves many treasures, starting with the superb marble tomb of François II, the last Duke of Brittany, and organs dating from the 17th and 19th centuries. There are also two crypts, a Romanesque church with liturgical and goldsmith's garments and the second dating from the 19th century, which tells the story of the cathedral.
N°3- The Machines of the Island
But what is it that this extraordinary and totally dreamlike world has invested in the former shipyards? Half beasts, half machines, the Island's Machines are a real curiosity that amazes young and old alike. Elephant and giant squid roam freely, huge spider, caterpillar and ant animate the Machine Gallery and amazing aquatic creatures are active at the Musical Ride of the Marine Worlds. By 2021, a Heron Tree should grow and raise an extraordinary city to 32 meters high: it will have hanging gardens populated by strange mechanical beasts..
N°4- The Unique Place
The former LU factory has embarked on new vocations since January 1, 2000, it has traded its Petit Beurre for much more artistic productions. The Unique Place, with its new name, is today an atypical art centre that promotes curiosity in all genres: visual arts, performances, architecture, theatre, dance, circus, music, but also gustatory arts and other literary and philosophical flights of fancy through conferences and debates. Unique and multidisciplinary, it is not surprising to find a bar, a restaurant, a record shop specialized in Vinyls, an associative crèche, a bookshop and a hammam!
N°5- Pommeraye Passage and the Talensac Market
Your walks and shopping desires will certainly lead you to the Passage Pommeraye, built in the 19th century, now classified as a National Heritage Site. This three-storey gallery is topped by a glass and iron frame that houses 26 shops and a large staircase topped with statues. A very charming neo-classical setting. In a completely different guile, the Talensac covered market always reserves delicious folk moments. Opened in 1937 instead of the city's slaughterhouses, it still offers products from the Pays de la Loire region. Nearly 150 shopkeepers and about thirty producers animate this funny Halle, frequented by all the people of Nantes.
N°6- Ile de Versailles
A former swamp, the artificial island of Versailles was created in 1831 to serve various businesses before being bought by the city. She employed architects and landscape architects to transform her 1.7 hectares into a Japanese garden, which was then inaugurated in 1983. This landscaped park is a place full of tranquility lulled by water features and soft waterfalls, carved with small bridges, rocks, high bamboos and embalmed by the essences of cherry trees, cypresses, camellia... Many paths criss-cross the gardens from which one can rent a boat, a pedal boat or a canoe to sail on the Erdre river.
N°7- Le Jardin des Plantes
Another green lung in Nantes, the Jardin des Plantes offers 7 hectares of greenery in the heart of the city. Classified as a remarkable garden, it is one of the four largest botanical gardens in France thanks to its rich collections of 10,000 living species and 50,000 flowers planted each year. It is known throughout the world for its unique camellia culture, and has been recognized as a Garden of Excellence by The International Camellia Society. Anyway, it is always a delight to stroll through its alleys and enter its greenhouses to discover the rarest species such as the Woodland Tulip or the Wollemi Pine
Time seems to have stood still in Trentemoult, an old fishing and cap-hornet village facing the Port of Nantes. Its intertwined alleys are brightened by the colourful facades of the three-storey elevated houses that lead to the quayside, where the atmosphere of a guinguette reigns. It is also very pleasant to come and have a drink or lunch on the terrace, facing the river. Jean Loup Hubert shot the film "Reine Blanche" there in 1991, since Trentemoult has cultivated an artistic soul and many artists and craftsmen have taken over the fishermen's houses. This small world has revived the associative fabric and many events are organized throughout the year.
Clisson is said to have Italian airs and it is true that its Tuscan-influenced architecture gives it all the charm of the Roman countryside. Mirroring itself in the Sèvre, the remains of its castle recall the prosperity of the village in the Middle Ages, as do its medieval halls and its Romanesque church. Its buildings punctuate the strolls in the heart of the climbing alleys which sometimes offer a breakthrough and pretty views on the tiled roofs that cover the houses. The Clisson Valley is carved by the Nantes vineyards, famous for their Muscadet culture, which can be tasted in the surrounding cellars or at the table of the city's restaurants
N°10- Lake of Grand Lieu
A short distance from Nantes is Lac de Grand-Lieu, a natural area remarkable for its astonishing biodiversity. Surrounded by wetlands and partly covered with vegetation, it is the largest natural lake on the French plain in winter - its waters shrink in summer - and it preserves more than 300 bird species and 650 plant species. To discover its richness, we will start by going to the Maison du Lac de Grand-Lieu, which provides all the information through an exhibition. A 74km circuit has been marked out, so several dotted walks can be organised around the lake.
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