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From Secret Gardens to Hidden Cafes: Uncover the Underrated and Delightful Nantes, France

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Nantes is a vibrant city filled with art, culture, and history! It’s a port city on the Loire River, less than an hour from the ocean making it a great place to visit year-round. This city (France’s sixth largest) seamlessly blends centuries-old architecture and cobblestoned streets with modern art installations.

In the summer Nantes comes alive with performances, concerts, public art with the Le Voyage A Nantes, and many cultural festivals like the Folle Journée classical music festival.

Nantes walking tour

Get your bearings and a well-rounded view of the city with a guided tour by Nantes Tourism or follow the Green Line on a self-guided walking tour taking in the most famous sights of Nantes.

La Civelle

Everything about La Civelle in Trentemoult is pleasing, located on the banks of the Loire, well- decorated, and has exquisite food. The menu is ladened with fish, salmon, scallops, tiger prawns and fillet of beef, as well as an impressive wine list. Vincent Guerlais, a premier chocolatier in Nantes, desserts featured on the menu including the decadent bubble of flavour – rich layers of chocolate mousse on a crispy hazelnut bottom.

Ile de Nantes with green line, France

Ile de Nantes

Paying Homage to the industrial and maritime history of the city, while adding modern amenities is the Isle of Nantes, just across the river Loire.

Trentemoult

Trentemoult, Nantes, France

A quiet fishing village until the nineteenth Century, Trentemoult has now transformed itself into an artist enclave and one of the most colourful places in Nantes. Buildings painted in bright colours and the houses are adorned with flowers and murals.

Talensac Market

Talensac market, Nantes

In existence since 1937 is the Talensac Market, the oldest and largest market in Nantes; it’s filled with local fruits, vegetables, and meats. They also have a wide array of fresh fish and seafood. They’re open every day except Mondays, but there’s no sit-down to eat on site. If you go, remember to bring a shopping bag.

Machines de l’lle

Machines of the Island of Nantes, France

The Machines de l’Ile is an extraordinary artistic project. Born from the imaginations of François
Delarozière and Pierre Orefice, it’s a blend of the worlds of Jules Verne, the mechanical universe of Leonardo da Vinci, and the industrial history of Nantes.

The Great Elephant

The great elephant in Nantes, France

This mechanical elephant stands 40 feet / 12 mm high. When it moves, the 49 passengers feel as if they on the 4th floor of a house. The elephant sprays water from its trunk as passers by come close.

In the gallery, see real plants and animals in the tree canopy; visitors may ride a giant insect if the timing is right. You may see a giant spider emerge from the ground.

Carrousel des Mondes Marins

One of the most fascinating merry-go-rounds ever seen, the Carrousel des Mondes Marins encompasses three floors, representing the ocean floor, the water, and the surface. Standing 25 meters tall, the intricate design and architecture of this piece is worth the ride.

Jardin Des Plantes

Plants garden, Nantes

The Jardin Des Plantes is the perfect way to spend a sleepy Sunday when the rest of the town shut down. This peaceful oasis features a collection of exotic plants, trees, and vast green spaces. The gardens produce a million plants every year.

Rue Crebillon shopping

Passage Pommeraye, Nantes

Rue Crebillon is the most prominent shipping district in Nantes; it’s where you will find an eclectic mix of local retailers and designer stores. Work your way past these shops to the Passage Pommeraye , an impressive arcade built-in 1843, with chic boutiques spread over three floors and adorned with Renaissance-style sculptures.

Bouffay Quarter

Bouffay quarter's timber house, Nantes

The Bouffay Quarter retains much of its medieval feel with tight winding streets; you’ll see the few remaining timber houses from 18th and 19th Century.

Pickles

Pickles restaurant, Nantes

If you’re near the Hotel de Ville, stop at Pickles . Chef/owner Dominic Quirke, who knows the importance of fresh ingredients and it doesn’t get fresher than in Nantes. They have a fantastic prix fixe lunchwhich may include dishes like Thonine fumee a Froid (Tuna), and Tortellini Stilton Roquette. House-made sorbets accompany fresh seasonal fruits for dessert.

Graslin Quarter

Place Graslin, Nantes

My hotel was in Nantes poshest area, the Graslin Quarter. Buildings from the 1700s, primarily in original condition are a marvel to take in. Be sure to walk by the Graslin Theater or spend an afternoon window-shopping the luxurious high-end boutiques.

Feydeau Quarter

The Feydeau Quarter is an elegant old quarter with an 18th-century flavour where slave traders once built luxurious mansions and over time started to sink. Modern technology has helped preserve the buildings, but they still have a pronounced lean.

Crêperie Heb Ken

Heb Ken creperie in Nantes

Close to the Place Royale and one of the most popular creperies in the area. Line-ups form outside Creperie Heb Ken as every night and with an extensive menu there are endless choices of crepes. Popular are the local ciders available to accompany the buckwheat crepes. Try the traditional crepe of ham and fried egg followed with a dessert crepe.

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