Itinerary: Art & History in Western France – Poitiers, Angers, Nantes & Rennes

Press release

Route Description

Western France is a busy crossroads notable for acknowledging and memorializing the past while leaving ample space for contemporary influences.

Poitiers has seen the ebb and flow of history, marked by the construction of religious buildings, some as old as the 4th-century Saint-Jean baptistry and several considered Romanesque architectural masterpieces. The newest wave of people is students who sustain a celebratory love for the contemporary arts, gastronomy and nature. Learn more about Poitiers

Like elsewhere in the Loire Valley, the city of Angers celebrates its historical and geographic endowment: the Loire's largest fortress, renowned Anjou vineyards from the third biggest wine region in France, and amazing gastronomy, brought to table in the restaurants, large and small, of the pedestrianized historic old town. Learn more about Angers

Nantes claims allegiance to two places: Brittany, to which it is historically linked, and the Loire Valley, of which it is presently a part. No surprise then that Surrealism originated in Nantes. Or that native son Jules Verne's steam punk visions inspired Machines de l’Île, home to quirky mechanical automatons. Learn more about Nantes

In Rennes, look left: there are some of the 286 painted, timber-framed houses so colorfully emblematic of Brittany’s medieval past. Now look right: there’s the modern Champs Libres, a collection of state-of-the-art history and science museums. That’s Rennes in a nutshell – a well-crafted interface between past and present. Learn more about Rennes

Along the Way

Between Poitiers and Angers

  • Château de Brissac: stands higher than all other royal castles, thus deserves of its nickname “Giant of the Loire Valley”

Beyond Angers

  • Le Mans: the Cité Plantagenêt is the historical part of town with cobbled streets, half-timbered homes, a Roman wall and more

  • Château du Plessis-Bourré: a nearly unaltered, 15th-century fairytale chateau with a working drawbridge over a water-filled moat

Beyond Rennes

  • Camaret-sur-Mer: home to the Tour Vauban (aka Tour Dorée, or Golden Tower), a historic fortification and UNESCO World Heritage Site

How to Cover the Route

Approximate shortest-path road distances between cities Approximate shortest train/bus travel times between cities
Poitiers ↔ Angers
91 miles 2 h 30 min (minimum 2 trains)
Angers ↔ Nantes 56 miles 37 min (TGV)
Nantes ↔ Rennes 70 miles 1 h 20 min (regional train)

Given the short distances between cities, and the numerous attractions to see both in the city environs and along the way, this route lends itself to driving. However, as there are direct rail links with relatively short travel times, it is also easily accomplished by train.