Overview & Brief History

Nantes, situated along the Loire River in western France, is a vibrant city with a rich history, artistic flair, and a modern spirit. As the capital of the Pays de la Loire region, Nantes seamlessly blends its medieval heritage with contemporary urban life. Boasting a diverse cultural scene, thriving industries, and a dynamic atmosphere, Nantes has earned a reputation as a must-visit destination in France.


A Brief History
Nantes traces its roots back to ancient Gaul, inhabited by the Celts before becoming a Roman settlement known as Condevincum. The city’s strategic location along the Loire River contributed to its early importance as a trading and commercial hub.


During the Middle Ages, Nantes flourished as a duchy and later became the capital of Brittany. The city’s architecture, including the imposing Château des Ducs de Bretagne (Castle of the Dukes of Brittany), reflects this medieval legacy.


Nantes gained prominence in the 18th century through its involvement in the Atlantic slave trade and maritime activities. The city’s docks bustled with trade, and shipbuilding became a crucial industry. Today, remnants of this maritime heritage are evident along the Loire River.


The 19th century brought industrialization to Nantes, transforming it into a major economic center. Shipbuilding, sugar refining, and other industries fueled the city’s growth. The Machines of the Isle of Nantes, including the famous Great Elephant, pay homage to this industrial past.


In recent decades, Nantes has undergone a cultural renaissance, transforming former industrial spaces into creative hubs. The city has become a hotspot for the arts, with numerous museums, galleries, and events contributing to its vibrant cultural scene.

Things to See & Do

Castle of the Dukes of Brittany
his imposing castle is a symbol of Nantes’ medieval heritage. Explore the historic ramparts, towers, and courtyards, and visit the museum inside to learn about the history of the region. The castle often hosts cultural events and exhibitions.


Machines of the Isle

An incredible blend of art and engineering, Les Machines de l’île features fantastical creations like the Great Elephant, a giant mechanical spider, and the Marine Worlds Carousel. This unique attraction is located on the former shipyards and pays homage to Nantes’ maritime history


Cathedral Saint-Pierre et Saint-Paul

This stunning Gothic cathedral is a masterpiece of religious architecture. Admire its intricate facade, beautiful stained glass windows, and the impressive tomb of Francis II, the last Duke of Brittany. The cathedral is a peaceful retreat in the heart of the city.


Île de Versailles

A serene Japanese garden awaits on Île de Versailles, an artificial island on the Erdre River. Explore the peaceful pathways, admire the traditional Japanese plants and architecture, and unwind by the water. The island provides a tranquil escape from the urban bustle

Local Dining

Explore the Quai de la Fosse…Nantes boasts a rich maritime history, evident in its abundance of fresh seafood. Savor the delicate flavors of oysters, mussels, and clams, or dive into succulent fish dishes like “turbot au beurre blanc” (turbot in white butter sauce).


Beyond the catch…Savor the richness of “Lard Nantais” This slow-cooked pork dish with vegetables is a local treasure. The tender meat, infused with the aromas of herbs and spices, is a true comfort food experience.

Insider Tips

Indulge in a “guinguette” experience. These traditional riverside restaurants offer a charming setting to enjoy authentic Nantes cuisine and live music. Soak up the atmosphere, dance the night away, and experience the city’s joie de vivre.


Consider staying in the city center. This will give you easy access to the main attractions, restaurants, and shops.


Nantes boasts a well-developed network of trams, buses, and river shuttles. It’s an affordable and efficient way to get around the city. Consider purchasing a Nantes Pass for unlimited travel on public transportation and free entry to most museums and attractions.

Virtual Tours

Nantes 4K Walking Tour

Nantes Machines Gallery

Île de Versailles


Interactive Maps

Explore the Île de Versailles

Wander around Machines of the Isle 

Play around Castle of the Dukes of Brittany


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