Pays de la Loire Travel Inspiration

8 Best Day Trips from Nantes


Article written by Elisa - Travel Writer & Local in France
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Best Places to Visit Near Nantes

At the western tip of the Loire River, Nantes is a gorgeous city to visit, with many things to do. Once you are done exploring Nantes, why not take a day trip from Nantes to one (or more) of the many amazing places in the Pays de la Loire region or close by?

Travel east to the châteaux region, west to reach the Atlantic coast and its seaside towns, and in all directions to find charming medieval villages with a great historical heritage.

Here’s our selection of the eight best places to visit near Nantes: top day trips from Nantes by train or car with something for every traveler.

Angers - France

Best Nantes Day Trips

Nantes Day Trips in a Nutshell

Best day trips from Nantes by train: Clisson, Pornic, Angers.

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Best day trips from Nantes by car: Châteaux of the Loire Valley.

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1. Clisson

Clisson - Pays-de-la-Loire

Southeast of Nantes is the charming Medieval town of Clisson. The French Revolution left Clisson in ruins, and the town was rebuilt using Italy as inspiration.

Unmissable is Château de Clisson. Built in the 12th century, it underwent reconstructions and additions until the 17th century. This fortress-like castle protected the border of the Duchy of Brittany. Another of Clisson’s historical monuments is Le Pont de la Vallée, the 15th-century bridge characterized by arches of different dimensions. Walk the bridge to cross the Sèvre Nantaise River.

Besides the town’s look, Clisson has another unique feature, the Temple of l’Amitié (“Temple of friendship”). Reminiscent of Ancient Greek temples, it was built between 1812 and 1825 by sculptor Lemot in front of his villa.

Clisson is one of the best day trips from Nantes by train. Direct trains Nantes – Clisson only take 30 minutes. If you love history and architecture, Clisson is one of the best places to visit near Nantes!

2. Guérande

Gérande Medieval Town

80 km west of Nantes is the medieval village of Guérande. Pass through the Gates of Guérande, which feature the monumental door of Saint-Michel, built in the mid-15th century. Once inside the village, visit the Notre Dame la Blanche, a Gothic-style church that is the village’s oldest building.  

In Guérande, you can also find the interesting Doll Museum, housed in the Chapelle Saint-Jean, which used to be the village’s hospital through the late medieval period.

Guérande is also known for its unmissable salt marshes, which can be toured on foot, by bike, or by car. Besides marveling at a spectacular landscape, touring the salt marshes will make you discover more about the area’s history and the long-lasting trade of salt.

Although it is possible to visit Guérande by train (one change of trains), Nantes to Guérande by car is only one hour and allows you to explore the surrounding salt marshes. If you are a history lover and are down for outdoor activities, you will have a blast in Guérande!

3. Pornic

Pornic is one of the most beautiful villages near Nantes. It is located 50 km southwest of Nantes, and it is easily reachable by car and train (1 hour, direct). A popular resort town on France’s Atlantic Coast, Pornic is among the best day trips from Nantes if you are looking for a relaxing getaway.

Stroll around the fishing harbor with colorful buildings and seafood restaurants. Head to the town’s medieval castle beside the harbor. The fortress-like castle is beautiful from both outside and inside, where you can still visit its several rooms with their old charm. Climb the castle’s tower for breathtaking views of the port and the town.

Pornic’s Plage de la Source is one of the best beaches near Nantes. A charming little cove equipped with showers, cabins, and a diving board, Plage de la Source extends for approximately 50 meters and is also accessible to people with reduced mobility. Its authentic fishing huts on stilts and its wooded and green surroundings are a real bonus of this beach near Nantes.

Pornic is also famous for its coastal hiking trail: walk it to admire gorgeous panoramas and climb down to the rocky coves for a refreshing swim.

4. Angers

Angers - France

90 km northwest of Nantes, you will find Angers, one of the lesser-known towns of the Loire Valley, located near the confluence of the Maine River. Reach it by car or train for a lovely Nantes day trip!

One of the best places to visit from Nantes for a history-filled getaway, the town boasts an imposing medieval castle beautifully set on the riverfront. The Château d’Angers was built in the 9th century and has 17 towers connected by ramparts from where you will have gorgeous views over the Old Town.

The castle houses Angers’ must-see, the “Tapestry of the Apocalypse,” a magnificent set of tapestries that is impressive not only for its details but also for its dimensions, as it is 6 meters high and 140 meters long.

Angers is also a university city, so here you will find a youthful vibe and vibrant nightlife – Click here to book your train tickets to Angers

5. Saumur

Saumur is around 140 km east of Nantes, at the western tip of the Loire Valley. One of the surprisingly underrated French cities, Saumur is perfect to visit if you love history and admire ancient châteaux. Indeed the Château de Saumur is one of the most beautiful Castles in the Loire Valley!

Head to the hilltop castle to admire magnificent views along the Loire River, and stroll around the Old Town’s cobbled streets to discover half-timbered buildings and relax in terrace cafés.

Explore Saumur’s rich military history by visiting the Musée de la Cavalerie and the Musée des Blindés, which display unique collections of military uniforms, weapons, and tanks.

Another special thing to do in Saumur? Visiting the Cadre Noir, a national horseback riding school considered among the ancestors of French dressage and equestrianism.

The train from Nantes to Saumur takes 1 to 1.5 hours, depending if it is direct or with a change of trains in Angers – Click here to buy your train ticket to Saumur

6. Loire Valley Castles near Nantes

Château d'Azay-le-Rideau
Château de Villandry

Among the best day trips from Nantes are the ones to the stunning UNESCO-listed Châteaux of the Loire Valley. There are several castles located no more than 2.5 hours drive from Nantes.

In addition to the above-mentioned Château de Saumur, the Château-fortress de Chinon, 178 km east of Nantes, still retains a medieval character. With a rich history, it was the venue of the meeting between King Charles VII and Joan of Arc in 1429.

Another beautiful castle to visit, 195km east of Nantes, is Château d’Azay-le-Rideau. This Château boasts a romantic atmosphere that inspired many famous artists. A masterpiece of the early Renaissance, the castle’s best part is its English-style garden with beautiful exotic trees.

Close by, you will find the Château de Villandry. A Renaissance country house, this castle is best known for its 16th-century-style jardins that amaze every visitor with their beauty!

The Loire Valley Castles make for a relaxing day trip from Nantes, surrounded by luxury and history, and they are best explored from Nantes by car.

7. Fontevraud Abbey

142 km east of Nantes is the Royal Abbey of Fontevraud. If you have a car, you should take this day trip!

First an abbey under the protection of the Plantagenets, then a prison, Fontevraud Abbey became a cultural center in 1975. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, you will love visiting the abbey if you are a history lover.

The Royal Abbey of Fontevraud was founded in 1101 by the itinerant preacher Robert of Arbrissel and is one of the largest monastic cities in Europe. In addition to its Royal protection, the Abbey is also famous for being a monastic community ruled by an abbess. Inside the Abbey, you can visit the burial places of Queen Eléonor d’Aquitaine, her husband Henry II of England, and their son, King Richard the Lionheart.

Besides being a site full of history, the Abbey has stunning architecture and green spaces where you can enjoy a relaxing walk.

8. Vannes

Vannes - Gulf of Morbihan

Vannes is located 116 km northwest of Nantes on the Atlantic coast. This city in the Brittany region and the main hub in the Gulf of Morbihan has 272 historic monuments between its walls, so it’s a perfect day trip for any history lover.

Vannes is one of the most beautiful walled cities in France. Vannes’ ramparts are magnificent with their three towers and cute formal parterre with geometric lawns, flowerbeds, and precise topiaries.

The Old Town features a fortified square, 15th-century houses with half-timbers, and a stunning cathedral. Vannes Cathedral is particularly interesting as it has a melange of styles, from Romanesque to Gothic to Italian Renaissance, since its construction required 700 hundred years to be completed.

While in Vannes, make sure to visit the Château de l’Hermine, the aquarium, and the harbor. Vannes is among the best places to visit near Nantes for a fun day for the whole family! – Click here to buy your train tickets to Vannes

And there you have it, the best day trips from Nantes, France. Which Nantes day trips tempt you most?

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