Visit the Historic City of Nantes
Nantes is the ideal starting pint for exploring the region and is well worth visiting in its own right. To make sure you see everything there without getting lost, just follow the green line which has been painted on the ground, it leads you to explore architectural, artistic, cultural historical highlights. Those points of interests demonstrate the multiplicity that makes Nantes unique. It’s a city with a wealth of history, heritage and centuries of trade centred around its port, you can find out all about it in the museum of the history of Nantes, situated in the Castle of the dukes of Brittany, in the city centre.
The decline of the harbour in the 1970s opened the way for an urban revival based on a large, dynamic and cultural urban project. Discover on the isle of Nantes the intriguing Machines de L’ile with the Grand Elephant, the Marine World Carousel and this year the new giant mechanical spider. Visitors will discover the spider asleep, see her wake up, and then take the most fearless one for a ride! Go through the Memorial to Abolition of Slavery, an impressive 400-metre long walkway under the quayside. Further on at the top of the Brittany tower enjoy a panoramic view of the city from Le Nid bar. Further afield, along the Loire river up to Saint-Nazaire, you’ll find a contemporary art itinerary called “Estuaire Nantes Saint-Nazaire” showing 30 masterpieces in the open air on free access.
The Loire Valley and the Atlantic Ocean
South of Nantes lie the vineyards of the Loire, home to the famous Muscadet wines, at the heart of which is the small town of Clisson. The landscape of the vineyards is dotted with Italian-inspired architecture as is this characterful town of Clisson, with its castle, market hall and the magnificent Garenne-Lemot estate. Fruity and are a key ingredient in local cuisine. Several wine estates welcome visitors for tastings.
Along the Loire River, two long-distance European cycling itineraries are attracting leisure cyclists to the area from all over Europe: The Loire à Vélo, which now offers safe, signposted cycling along an over 800km route between Cuffy and Saint-Brévin-les-Pins on the Atlantic coast. The Loire à Vélo is the longest and most ambitious durable tourism project of the decade, it acts as a gateway to the Loire Valley, combining heritage sites, gastronomy and wine tourism along this iconic French river, passing through Nantes, Angers, Saumur and Fontevraud. Pause for the famous Fontevraud Abbey with its tombs and recumbent effigies of Richard the Lionheart his mother Eleanor of Aquitaine, Queen of England.
The sheer number of remarkable monuments harboured within this one region justified the listing of part of the Loire Valley as a Unesco World Heritage of Humanity site.
With the Atlantic Ocean as its backdrop, La Vélodssée is the French section of Eurovélo 1. This European cycle trail crosses Portugal, Spain, France, Great Britain, Ireland and Norway. In the region is passes north-south along the Canal de Nantes à Brest, crossing Nantes before joining the estuary section of the Loire à Vélo and finally, the cycle tracks of the Vendée coast.
Just 60km west of Nantes, you’ll find yourself on the Atlantic Coast, with wide sandy beaches as well as small inlets, sand dunes and rocky shores. From La Baule to Pornic, invigorating walks by the sea will allow you to discover the area. Inland don’t miss a visit to Guérande, a well-preserved fortified town built in the middle of the salt marshes. Further south, enjoy the wide beaches of teh Vendée coast.
In order the soak in the flavours of the region, tasting stops are recommended. The cuisine is based on fish, seafood and the delicious vegetables from Nantes, all laced with Muscadet, not forgetting the sweet delight of crêpes with salty butter, the Gâteau Nantais, the sweet niniches of La Baule or the fruity rigolettes from Nantes.
Events to See
Le Voyage à Nantes: Each summer the city of Nantes invites artists and designers to participate in an urban art trail, Le Voyage à Nantes. Its a 10km green line painted on the pavement linking 40 sites, comprising the city’s existing artistic highlights and a series of temporary outdoor art installation and sculptures specially created for the event.
Le Mans Classic: The event attracts over 100,000 spectators, 500 racing cars and 8,000 vintage cars and be found at Le Mans. It has now become a set peace in the summer calendar for all vintage car enthusiasts in France and the rest of Europe.