Nantes Tourist Activities

Nantes Airport is an important gateway to the most attractive Pays de la Loire region of France, and is known as the Nantes Atlantique Airport, with the official code of NTE. Nantes attractions nearby the airport are abundant, and there are sights and activities to suit all types of interest. Nantes Airport is the largest and busiest in the west of France, and is located just 8km from the city centre of Nantes. Tourists can easily reach the downtown area from the airport, or travel to other nearby towns and cities, which all offer their own charming points of interest.

Nantes is located on the Loire River, approximately fifty kilometres from the Atlantic coast, and is the sixth largest city in France. It is also the capital city of Pays de le Loire region, and is home to some 800,000 people. The city is described as a most vibrant and innovative place in France, and as ‘the most liveable city in Europe’. Nantes has the nickname of ‘Venice of the West’ as well, due to its similarity to Venice, due to its location around the river delta of the Loire, the Erdre and the Sèvre. The Sèvre though, has had its tributaries all filled to make way for the city. Nantes is surrounded by a ring motorway that provides access to all the main roads that lead to other prominent areas in France, such as Paris, Bordeaux and Dijon, and the city is divided into eleven neighbourhoods, some of which include Centre-ville, Nantes-Erdre, Nantes-Sud, Nantes-Nord, Bellevue-Chantenay-Sainte Anne and Île de Nantes. Many of the city’s main attractions are found nearby Centre-ville, just south of the heart of Nantes.

Although not exactly on the beach, Nantes has its own fair share of water sports, thanks to its location by the rivers. Many locals and tourists enjoy the water for kayaking, sailing and boat cruises. There are also some lovely areas to take a stroll along the canals and rivers of the city, with charming cafés at which to stop for refreshments. Some interesting bridges can also be admired along the way. Nantes offers plenty of areas for entertainment, and a vibrant nightlife atmosphere. Places to eat in Nantes are in no short supply, and restaurants can be of the traditional, international or exotic assortment. Tourists in the area often enjoy some of the local cuisine on offer at the upmarket restaurants, which include roasted duck breast cooked in Muscadet, fresh eels and frogs legs with parsley, garlic and wine. Another favourite meal, or snack, in Nantes is the crepe, filled with a wide range of fillings, both savoury and sweet.

Not many cities in France can boast such fabulous areas to shop as Paris can, but in Nantes, visitors will find many wonderful shopping centres and boutiques. The city is home to the famous Passage Pommeraye shopping centre, filled with elegant and expensive stores with a wide variety of items to purchase, and other main shopping streets in the city are rue du Calvaire, rue Boileau, rue d’Orleans, rue de la Marne and rue de Verdun. Nantes has markets for bargain hunters as well, one of which is found on rue Jean Jaurs, with antiques, bric-a-brac and local art.

One of the most famous Nantes attractions is the Machines de Nantes, or the Machines de l’Ile. This is an amazing place located on 5 Boulevard Léon Bureau, and is a mechanical wonderland that is hard to describe to anyone who has not been there personally. Some say it’s a theme park, while others call it a ‘weird exhibition’!  It is one of the ‘must-see’ attractions in Nantes, featuring the huge mechanical elephant that takes visitors for a ride. This great mechanical elephant is 12 metres high and 8 metres wide, with room for about 49 people on its back. It was made from 45 tons of wood and steel, and takes its passengers for a walk that lasts for about three quarters of an hour. The elephant was built to look similar to the to ‘The Sultan’s Elephant’ from Royal de Luxe. There are also many other mechanical creatures to marvel, and the park will soon feature the Marine’s World Carousel, almost 25 metres high, and with 35 moving underwater animals on three levels. The machines are housed in the warehouses of the former shipyards of Nantes.

The second best attraction in Nantes is the Château des Ducs de Bretagne, which is a fantastic castle that was built in the 9th or 10th century. The original castle was destroyed around the 13th century, but then rebuilt once again by Francois II in 1466. This medieval castle was home to the Dukes of Brittany, and its main features include impressive moats, tall towers, as well as museums, which offer plenty of information regarding culture and local history. Other museums of interest in Nantes are the Museum of Natural History, the Musée Jules Verne, the Musée des Beaux-Arts and the Musée Dobrée. The Natural History Museum is a favourite amongst many visitors, as it has an extremely large collection of zoological, botanical and pre-historic items, including the enormous skeleton of a Rorgual whale. This whale is known to be the largest animal which ever lived.

Nantes is also home to numerous religious buildings of interest, which include the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul, the Basilica of Saint Nicolas, the Church of the Holy Cross and the Basilica of Saint-Louis. Many of these buildings feature impressively beautiful interiors, and equally impressive exteriors, with towers and side chapels.

Many more attractions are available in Nantes, and the airport is the perfect arrival point at which to begin an interesting and relaxing holiday in the city. Tourists are also recommended to explore the surrounding areas of Nantes, and their unique attractions. Further details regarding Nantes attractions are available from the tourism desks.