Nantes has a rich history that has left numerous historical monuments to explore. Nantes, the seat of the Pays de la Loire Region in western France, is a city in a state of perpetual development thanks to its hardworking population. A lot of interesting and fun things to do can be found in this city.
Despite its current location, Nantes will always be recognized as the capital of Brittany. This once-powerful residence of the Dukes of Brittany is now one of Nantes’s most impressive landmarks. It served as the dukes’ seat of government until the Duchy was unified with France in the 16th century.
Nantes is home to several historical sites, including its castle and cathedral, as well as modern entertainment like chic bars and futuristic museums. In addition to its many man-made tourist attractions, Nantes is well-known for the Muscadet white wine it produces. This matches the Atlantic seafood that is caught only 60 kilometers away.
Top 10 attractions in Nantes
Discover the greatest activities and attractions to explore while you are in Nantes with our helpful guide.
- Castle of the Dukes of Brittany / Château des Ducs de Bretagne
- Passage Pommeraye
- Musée d’Arts de Nantes
- Quartier Bouffay
- Les Machines de l’Île
- Jardin des Plantes
- Cathédrale Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul
- La Tour Lu – Le Lieu unique
- Île Feydeau
Castle of the Dukes of Brittany / Château des Ducs de Bretagne
The Château des Ducs de Bretagne stands out as the city’s most iconic structure and the best attraction in Nantes (Castle of the Dukes of Brittany). It’s a Renaissance-style fortress in the middle of town, not far from the railway station, that now serves as a museum dedicated to the local area’s past.
Explore authentic historical artifacts and cutting-edge interactive exhibits to get a deeper understanding of Nantes and its surrounding area. The castle’s seven towers are connected by a pedestrian bridge. You should also check out the slide that drops you from the castle’s edge.
- Address: 4 Pl. Marc Elder, 44000 Nantes, France.
- Timings: every day from 8:30 AM to 7 PM.
The Passage Pommeraye, a covered retail street constructed in the middle of the nineteenth century on Rue de la Fosse in the center of Nantes, is one of Nantes’s top attractions. It was built in the elegant Renaissance style and is now a protected historical landmark because of the fame of its marble stairways, sculptures, and glass dome.
Twenty-five high-end boutiques selling apparel, accessories, fragrances, and jewelry are spread out over three levels in the Passage Pommeraye.
To this day, the neo-renaissance sculpture and masonry, iron and glass canopies that flood the galleries with natural light, wrought iron lighting and railings, and an upscale assortment of luxury stores make the Passage Pommeraye as beautiful as it was 160 years ago.
- Address: 20 Pass. Pommeraye, 44000 Nantes, France.
- Timings: every day from 8 AM to 8 PM.
Musée d’Arts de Nantes
Nantes Art Museum, also known as Musée d’Arts de Nantes, can be found in the heart of the promenade between the Nantes cathedral and the Jardin des Plantes.
The museum’s collection spans from antiquity to the present day and is shown in a wide range of media, such as paintings, movies, photography, and art installations, making it one of the top tourist attractions in Nantes.
Over 900 pieces of art are on show in the museum, including a world-class assortment of European canvases. Many great works of art may be found within this collection of French, Italian, Flemish, and Dutch paintings from the 13th to the 18th centuries.
- Address: 10 Rue Georges Clemenceau, 44000 Nantes, France.
- Wednesday to Monday from 11 AM to 7 PM.
- Closed on Tuesdays.
The city of Nantes’s oldest neighborhood is called Bouffay. This pedestrian zone is about 250 meters west of the Castle of the Dukes of Brittany, and it has several charming alleyways and lanes spreading out from Place du Bouffay, a cobblestone plaza with outdoor café and restaurant terraces. Boutiques of various kinds may be found in the Bouffay neighborhood, from apparel to footwear to electronics.
Tourists looking for some of Nantes’s traditional old-world appeal might start their journey at the Château des Ducs de Bretagne. The Bouffay area is a historic neighborhood with a maze of narrow alleyways and charming half-timbered homes dating back to the 15th and 16th centuries. Quartier Bouffay is, without a doubt, one of the best tourist attractions in Nantes.
Les Machines de l’Île
Visit the Machines of the Isle of Nantes and discover your inner kid. This creative and cultural project transports you to a fantastical universe similar to Jules Vernes’ stories, Leonardo da Vinci’s forward-thinking inventions, and Nantes’s historic industrial past. Les Machines de l’Île is another top attraction in Nantes that amazes every visitor.
The Great Mechanical Elephant is the main attraction, but the museum of machines also features a remarkable bestiary of machinery, including gigantic mechanical spiders, ants, and herons. In order to avoid standing in long lines, it is preferable to pre-book the Great Elephant ride online.
The strange setting of Les Machines de l’Île, which seems to have been plucked from the pages of a fairy tale, is a hit with viewers of all ages. Located opposite the picturesque Quai de la Fosse, a riverfront embankment lined with magnificent 18th-century buildings is this fantastic amusement park.
- Address: Parc des Chantiers, Bd Léon Bureau, 44200 Nantes, France.
Jardin des Plantes
Located in the middle of Nantes, just close to the north entrance of the railway station, lies the green space known as the Jardin des Plantes. The greenhouses, which take up a total of 800 square meters of the garden’s space, feature a remarkable collection of African and Asian orchids.
There are approximately 11,000 plant and flower varieties on show in the rivers and ponds of Nantes’s Jardin des Plantes. The park also has stunning sculptures, fountains, and a huge children’s playground, which makes it one of the best tourist attractions in Nantes.
The Jardin des Plantes is recognized as a “Jardin Remarquable” because of the large number of trees and flowers within its grounds. Only four other botanical gardens in all of France have been given the same honor, making this seven-hectare site very unique.
- Address: Rue Stanislas Baudry, 44000 Nantes, France.
- Timings: every day from 8:30 AM to 8 PM.
Located about 150 meters north of the Castle of the Dukes of Brittany, Nantes Cathedral is a magnificent example of Flamboyant Gothic architecture in the heart of the city. Cathédrale Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul is one of the best tourist attractions you get to visit in Nantes.
The project began in the 15th century and continued to the end of the 19th century. In addition to its impressive size and design, Nantes Cathedral is worth seeing for two other reasons: the magnificent tomb of Francois II and Marguerite de Foix, Anne of Brittany’s parents, and the 11th-century crypt, which includes a permanent exhibition about the cathedral’s history.
- Address: 7 Imp. Saint-Laurent, 44000 Nantes, France.
La Tour Lu – Le Lieu unique
Located in what was formerly a well-known biscuit factory, Le Lieu Unique is now home to the national center for contemporary arts in the French city of Nantes. Live music performances, plays, poetry readings, paintings, and more are all on display here. Le Lieu unique is one of the best tourist attractions in Nantes that attracts a large number of tourists from all over the world.
Le Lieu Unique is more than just an art gallery; it also has a cafe, a hammam, a daycare, a bookshop, and a gift shop. It’s a terrific location to interact with people from around the world because of the diverse mix of cultures and styles on display.
- Address: 2 Rue de la Biscuiterie, 44000 Nantes, France.
- Tuesday and Wednesday: 11 AM to 12 AM.
- Thursday to Saturday: 11 AM to 3 AM.
- Sunday: 3 PM to 8 PM.
- Monday: 11 AM to 8 PM.
When Nantes was one of Europe’s busiest ports in the 1700s, its shipowners earned enormous financial rewards from international commerce. The shipowners’ lavish mansions are a reflection of their luxurious way of life. Such magnificent homes may be seen on the streets of Allée Duguay-Trouin, Place de la Petite-Hollande, and Allée Turenne.
Visitors to Île Feydeau, a neighborhood immediately south of the city center, may be confused by the term “island” and the fact that streets like “Quai Turenne” are named after waterways despite the absence of such features. The island status only lasted until the 1930s, when a tributary of the Loire was dammed.
Feydeau was formerly swampy ground, but in the 18th century, it was transformed into a luxury neighborhood for the city’s affluent merchants. Nowadays, this eye-catching neighborhood is considered to be one of Nantes’s top tourist attractions.
Trentemoult is a picturesque town on the Loire River, famous for its palm tree-filled backyards and brightly painted, three-story homes. Seagulls swoop over fishing boats as you stroll down the bustling Quai Marcel Boissard, which is lined with classic bistros, crêperies, and cafés. Trentemoult is one of the best attractions to visit for those traveling to Nantes.
Many city hipsters, artists, and well-to-do families have made Trentemoult their home because of its convenient location to the city center by the Navibus boat. You may find your way through the winding alleyways and through the colorfully painted houses of the 18th and 19th centuries.
Because the Loire often overflowed its banks, the homes were built in a peculiar three-story layout, with the basements serving solely as storage areas.
Final words about Nantes’s top attractions
Nantes is the third-largest industrial city in France, but don’t let that fool you; the city is really rather beautiful and full of wonderful attractions. Nantes is thriving and full of new possibilities, and it seems to be improving rapidly. In this article, we tried to introduce some of Nantes’s top attractions to show you a little bit of this gorgeous city’s beauty.