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City Guide: Nantes

City Guide: Nantes

City Guide: Nantes

In the North West of France lies France’s sixth largest city, a hugely important cultural hub of France boasting important art, history and a stadium built for major tournaments.

Just 50km from the Atlantic coast, Nantes became the largest port in France in the 17th century.

A seaport on the Loire estuary, Nantes has plenty to offer, with one of France’s biggest concert venues, museums of art and history and cuisine that almost everybody will have eaten before.

To top it all off, the former Gallic settlement is widely regarded as one of the greenest cities in Europe and received the European Green Capital Award in 2013.

Main Attractions 

Nantes has several museums showcasing the city’s longstanding cultural importance in France.

The largest of these is the Fine Art Museum, which opened in 1900 and contains works from the likes of Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso and Anish Kapoor.

If history is more your thing, then you are in for a treat too, with both the Historical Museum of Nantes and the Natural History Museum of Nantes offering different insights into France’s past.

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As an added bonus, the Historical Museum of Nantes is based in the stunning Château des ducs de Bretagne, first built in 1207.

And if you are up for a boogie, then why not see if you can catch a concert at Le Zénith Nantes Métropole, the largest concert arena outside of Paris, which has hosted artists ranging from Snoop Dogg to Bob Dylan.

Food and Drink 

Food and drink in Nantes is globally adored, even if you did not know it!

Perhaps the most famous export in terms of Nantes’ cuisine is their biscuits, with the city producing both the LU and BN biscuits and it is where the Petit-Beurre originates from – dating back to 1886.

Nantes is famous in France for its market gardens, while it has also become the largest producer of dry white wines in France.

In terms of local specialities, beurre blanc is something you must try if you want to discover the taste of the region, typically coming alongside freshly caught fish from the nearby Atlantic.

With such a well-rounded cuisine, Nantes has something for everyone in terms of restaurants, from lovely French bistros such as Le Bistro des Enfants Nantais and La Mandale to creperies including Crêperie Ker Breizh.

The Venue 

The Stade de la Beaujoire is Nantes’ biggest stadium, initially built to host matches in the 1984 European Championships and now where FC Nantes play their matches.

Although the stadium, which now holds 35,322 people, only had two matches at Euro 1984, it still witnessed a Michel Platini hat-trick as France defeated Belgium 5-0 in front of over 50,000 spectators.

It was much more heavily used in the 1998 FIFA World Cup, hosting six matches, including a quarter-final clash between Brazil and Denmark, which saw the eventual runners-up Brazil win 3-2.

In rugby it has also been a hugely popular venue, hosting three pool matches in the 2007 Rugby World Cup, most famously the classic 38-34 Fiji win over Wales which saw the islanders advance to the quarter-finals.

They will face France in this stadium in Round 3 of the Summer Nations Series before four matches from the 2023 Rugby World Cup pool matches are staged there.

How do I get there? 

Nantes is just two hours away from Paris by train, using the speedy TGV service, making it easy to reach from wherever you are in Europe.

Nantes Airport is also just 20 minutes outside the city centre by car and as the biggest airport in the west of France, has regular flights from London, Dublin and other French cities.

Alternatively, the city is linked by the A11 to Paris and the A83 towards the south, making it highly accessible across France.

Fun facts 

Nantes is twinned with two capital cities of Summer Nations Series participants – Welsh capital Cardiff and Georgian capital Tbilisi.

Among the many celebrities to have called Nantes home are author Jules Verne, former French Prime Minister Georges Clémenceau and musician Christine and the Queens.

The city got its name from the Gallic tribe the Namnetes, who founded Nantes as it is now known in 70 BC.

Nantes has over 100 parks, gardens and squares, covering an astonishing 218 hectares.


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