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Visit Nantes, France
Those who venture into Nantes, France, are rarely disappointed: it is a young and dynamic city that has managed to combine modernity while preserving and enhancing its historical heritage. Nantes is also one of the greenest cities in France, voted Europe’s green capital in 2013.
This often underrated French city is the capital of the region Pays de la Loire. Located by the Loire River 380 km southwest of Paris. It is possible to travel from Paris to Nantes in only two hours by TGV train.
Planning to spend a weekend in Nantes? Whether you prioritize sightseeing and ticking landmarks off of your bucket list, or simply soaking in the atmosphere of a city, this 2 days in Nantes itinerary has you covered. For the perfect Nantes city break, we recommend arriving at Nantes on Friday night so you have 2 full days to visit Nantes.
Weekend in Nantes: Where to Stay?
There is not a wide choice of accommodation in Nantes. However, hotels in Nantes are cheaper than in other major cities in France so this could be a good opportunity to spoil yourself with a better room.
Logis Hôtel Duquesne: this hotel located 100 meters from the Tour Bretagne, in the city center of Nantes, proposes simple and individually decorated ensuite rooms for less than 60€ a night. The breakfast (optional) is good.
Best Western Hôtel Graslin: this hotel is located in the heart of the Graslin neighborhood, a 2-minute walk from the Graslin theater, and proposes comfortable rooms starting from 80€.
Okko Hotels Nantes Château: This modern 4-star hotel is simply the best hotel in the city center of Nantes. The hotel proposes ensuite double rooms from 115€ night, breakfast included. This is the ideal choice for a high-end stay in Nantes!
The Originals Nantes Voltaire Opéra: The hotel is perfectly located, just a 2- minute walk from the Graslin theater and a 10-minute walk from Ile de Nantes. The rooms are tiny but stylishly decorated and with a comfortable bed. The Originals Nantes Voltaire Opéra offers a continental buffet breakfast, which can be enjoyed in the dining room or the patio.
How to Spend 2 Days in Nantes – A Detailed Nantes Itinerary
Here’s the list of best things to do in Nantes in two days for a great Nantes city break.
Two Days in Nantes: Day One
Château des Ducs de Bretagne
After a good breakfast, head to the Château de Nantes and History Museum to learn about the city’s history.
Located in the city center, the Château des Ducs de Bretagne is an elegant Gothic fortress dating from the 15th century. The visit to this French château is a must, especially the free tour of the ramparts. From the top of the ramparts, there are great views, in particular over the famous LU tower (Lu is a famous biscuits brand in France).
Outside, there’s a sculpture of Anne de Bretagne, the most famous Duchess of Brittany who became Queen of France by marriage.
Saint-Pierre and Saint-Paul Cathedral (best known as the Nantes Cathedral) is an imposing building in the Gothic style worth a short visit. Construction began in the 15th century on the site of a Romanesque church and it took four centuries to complete. Inside, don’t miss the tomb of François II, the last Duke of Brittany.
If you need a short break, there’s a little park just behind Nantes cathedral perfect to rest.
Around Place Royale
After lunch let’s head to Graslin, an elegant neighborhood shaped thanks to the industrial and financial success of the city in the 18th and 19th centuries. The semi pedestrian area offers beautiful architecture, good shopping, and pleasant outdoor terraces for a coffee or a glass of wine.
The best way to explore this district is to wander with no particular direction. Sooner or later, however, you will end up at Place Royale and your visit should also include the Graslin Square and Theater as well as the Passage Pommeraye, with an architecture very similar to the covered passages of Paris.
To get away from the hustle and bustle of the city, don’t miss Cours Cambronne, a beautiful promenade garden.
Two Days in Nantes: Day Two
Day two of this Nantes itinerary follows the Loire River and explores the Ile de Nantes, the city’s main river island.
Memorial of the Abolition of Slavery
In the 18th century, Nantes became the first slave port in France, being slave-trading one of the main sources of the city’s success. On Quai de la Fosse, a planted esplanade has 2,000 plaques with names of ships that departed from Nantes on slave trade expeditions. Below the ground, there’s an interesting exhibition about slave trading in Nantes and the world. The main African and American trading posts reveal the enormity of the abhorrent slave trafficking.
Jules Verne Museum
The famous French author was born and raised in Nantes so if you are a fan of Jules Verne’s novels you cannot miss this place. The Jules Verne Museum explores Jules Verne’s life and main works through some personal objects and objects and videos related to the most famous novels.
The museum is located on the top of a hill with good views over the Loire River and the Ile de Nantes. In the small garden just in front of the museum, you can find Capitan Nemo enjoying the views, go and say hi!
The statue of a lonely, dreamy boy sitting on the bench is supposed to be Jules Verne when he was a kid. The Jules Verne Museum has a reduced schedule, click here for the opening days and times.
Les Machines de l’île
Located in the industrial wasteland of the city’s former shipyards, this artistic project brings together a set of crazy machines that seem straight out of Jules Verne’s imagination. Les Machines de l’Ile is the latest and a must attraction of the city and we have it listed as one of the best things to do in France.
Wander around the Isle on the back of a crazy elephant or visit the Galerie des Machines, where a team of mad builders is testing the new machines for the craziest project: a giant Heron Tree. Then, dive into the sea to explore the strangest marine creatures in the Sea World Carousel.
Practical Information for your Nantes City Break
How to Travel to Nantes
BY PLANE: Although Nantes is well connected to Charles de Gaulle Airport by TGV trains, you can save time and money by flying directly to Nantes Airport. Nantes-Atlantique Airport (NTE} is one of the international airports in France, with regular and seasonal international flights to many European countries, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Turkey (seasonal flights), and Montréal Canada (seasonal flights). Click here for flight schedules and prices.
BY TRAIN: Nantes is well connected with the rest of France by TGV trains and regional trains. It is also possible to travel from Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) to Nantes by direct TGV trains.
The best way to travel from Paris to Nantes is by TGV train. Trains leave Paris from Montparnasse train station and the train ride only takes 2 hours. Click here for train schedules and prices.
2 Days in Nantes: Where to Eat?
CAFÉ CULT’ (French cuisine): is a good choice for a quick lunch in the Bouffay neighborhood, the area explored during day 1. It is located at 2 Rue des Carmes and it always has good reviews.
CAFÉ LE NID: this trendy place is located at place de Bretagne, and more specifically on the 32nd floor of the Tour Bretagne, Nantes’ skyscraper. Enjoy a breathtaking panoramic view of the whole city at sunset and sip a couple of cocktails until the city lights up.
At Place Graslin there are numerous restaurants proposing all kinds of cuisines. Alternatively, enjoy one of the many Breton crêperies in the center of Nantes.
HEB KEN CRÊPERIE: proposes yummy crêpes and desserts, inexpensive, and it is well located in a pedestrian lane in the Graslin district (5 rue de Guérande).
CAFÉ DE LA BRANCHE: it is located just in front of Galerie des Machines and its terrace is the perfect place for a quick lunch on a beautiful, sunny day. The menu has only a few options (after all, it is a café) but I was more than happy with my pâtes au saumon and a glass of rosé!
Quai des Antilles has a lively atmosphere at aperó time and in the evening. You will find restaurants proposing all kinds of cuisine, with something for all budgets.
O’DECK RESTAURANT: located on the island, it is a good choice for a fancy dinner and breathtaking views of the Loire River from the terrace.