Last week, we’ve shared an article with an itinerary for South Brittany. How about continuing the trip and exploring a little bit more of this beautiful region of France. This is something we’ve done earlier this autumn, and we have loved it! In this article, we show you how you can spend two great days in Nantes… Exploring the city and all the attractions it has to offer. In this article, we are taking you with us for a weekend in Nantes, France!
** Please note that we have been taking this trip before the current lockdown and travel restrictions in place. We recommend you follow your local authorities before taking any trips. **
In this article, we are taking you through the various things we have done in Nantes. We stayed there for two days, therefore you can make a great weekend trip, filled with unique activities. Most of the below are free, but if not, fees will be mentioned! The activities are independent of one another! So, you can easily schedule them based on your interests and accommodation’s location.
Les Machines de l’île
Probably the most extraordinary thing you can see during your stay or weekend in Nantes! It was the first time for Erikas and so I only told him “we’re going to see an elephant”. Not mentioning anything else, and oh boy he was impressed! Regardless of age, this 9 meters high elephant will be one of the highlights of your weekend! We got tickets to visit the gallery, which is the place where you can see all the prototypes of machines for future projects. This is an amazing way to see how the project has developed but also, how things come together. It’s a bit like a sneak peek into the future!
As the tickets are not expensive, you can also choose to ride the elephant! It is a different ticket than the one for the gallery (you can book both). However, note that a time slot booking is needed for the elephant tour as it takes roughly 45 minutes. The gallery tour takes about 1 hour. And lastly, you can visit the aquarium of the submarine world, which is just across the square from the elephant and gallery/workshop (separate ticket).
The castle of the dukes of Brittany
Against a fee, you can visit the different rooms of the castle, together with the exhibitions. As we were in a bit of a rush before leaving, we only walked in the inner yard as well as on the walls surrounding the castle. Entering the yard and going on the walls is completely free of charge, and you get a nice view of the city as well! If you have a bit of time but History isn’t your cup of tea, there is a nice terrace in the yard, perfectly sheltered from the wind!
The castle is centrally located, in between the train station, the river and the walking/shopping streets. For sure a great place for a quick walk in town!
L’île de Versailles
A small, yet extra peaceful island! This island, in the heart of the city, between the castle and the universities, has been transformed into a Japanese garden. The whole island is this magnificent peaceful park, where you can join locals having a picnic, or meditate after a busy day. The access to the island is free and in our opinion, it’s a good break if you’re tired of going from A to B. Walking all around the island is quite fast, but you may stumble upon a waterfall or pond where you can take the time to breathe in and out.
Le Belvédaire de l’Hermitage (viewpoint)
This viewpoint gives you a great view of the city. You can easily access it, by foot, from the “Machines de L’île”, it would take you around 20 minutes (you can also get there by tram or bus). The viewpoint can be seen from the other side of the river as it looks like a bird’s nest located on a cliff.
My ultimate tip would be to get there at sunset or at night. In fact, from there, you have the best view of a place called “Hangar a bananes”, which gathers a lot of bars, eateries and art galleries. There, you also have the rings along the promenade, which are lighting up in the evening (and that’s why it would look awesome then)! Oh yes, and also there is no fee to access this viewpoint!
The Botanical Garden
Right across the train station, and in the heart of the city, you cannot miss the beautiful botanical garden of Nantes. The access to the garden is free of charge and will take you to a very relaxing place. There is a lot to see there. From the ponds and fountains to the greenhouses and other sculptures, there is enough for everyone and every taste, regardless of your age and interests! Personally, we loved walking around the cactus greenhouse and exploring the various pieces of art scattered in the park. A must-see while in Nantes, and an easy stop, even if you’re on your way to the station!
Follow the green line (art exhibitions)
When in Nantes, you will probably notice a green line painted on some streets. This line has been painted initially in the summer as Nantes was filled with (temporary) art exhibitions, therefore, if you follow this line, you will, not only have a great walk in town, but you’ll also discover amazing pieces of art scattered in the city. As we did not only want to do this, we only followed a few parts of the lines, and it was really nice! If you go to the tourism board office, you’ll be able to get a little guide about it with an explanation of the exhibitions. Note: some pieces were temporary exhibitions, therefore were only visible in the summer.
This passage is one of the most beautiful buildings in the city (in my opinion). And while I did not plan on writing about this place initially, I had to add it! The passage is located right in the city center, in one of the pedestrian streets. In there, you will find a lot of shops, ranging from high-end brands to your local souvenir shop. Though shopping might not be the purpose of your trip to Nantes, this building and passage is a must-see when in Nantes. The area is not big but really impressive and you can easily stop in one of the galleries to observe people walking in and out.
⇒ We hope this article made you dream of new places and unique things to do once the lockdowns are behind us! A weekend in Nantes is an easy and uncommon gateway, which you should give a go when possible! Do you have some tips about this city as well? Please share them with us in the comments!
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