Article written by Elisa - Travel Writer & Local in France
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Article written by Elisa - Travel Writer & Local in France
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, 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 weekend, we recommend arriving at Nantes on Friday night, so you have 2 full days to visit Nantes.
How Many Days in Nantes? Nantes in 2 days is a good amount of time to explore the best places to see in Nantes. With 3 days in Nantes, you can consider other activities like wine tastings o a day trip from Nantes.
Weekend in Nantes: Where to Stay?
There is not a wide choice of accommodation in Nantes. However, the Nantes hotels 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, offers simple and individually decorated ensuite rooms for a good price. 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 offers comfortable rooms starting from 80€.
Okko Hotels Nantes Château: This modern 4-star hotel is simply the best hotel in central Nantes. The hotel proposes ensuite double rooms starting from 115€ night, breakfast included. This is the ideal choice for a high-end weekend 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 the bed is super comfortable. 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
What to do in Nantes in 2 days? Here’s the list of the best things to do in Nantes for a great Nantes weekend.
TIP: the 24hrs, 48hrs, or 72hrs Nantes City Pass includes access to the city’s main museums, public transportation tickets, cruises, and guided tours.
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 one of the most impressive castles in Brittany, an elegant Gothic fortress dating from the 15th century. In Medieval times, Nantes was the capital city of Brittany, where the Dukes of Brittany had the court.
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 the Château, 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, this Nantes itinerary visits 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 in 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 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 weekend 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 Jules Verne Museum explores Jules Verne’s life and main works through some personal objects and objects and videos related to his most famous novels. 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 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
This Nantes visit ends with the Machines de l’Ile, the Machines of the Isle of Nantes. 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 Weekend
How to Travel to Nantes
BY PLANE: If you don’t plan to visit Paris, 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 from Paris 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
When visiting Nantes, you will find numerous restaurants offering all kinds of cuisines. Because Nantes was once part of Brittany, there are also many Breton crêperies offering delicious sweet and savory crêpes.
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.
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 wine!
Quai des Antilles has a lively atmosphere for the apéritif in the afternoon and also in the evening. You will find many restaurants offering 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.