Top French Cities - Nantes at a glance

Press release

For more information, visit the Nantes Tourism at

City region: At the crossroads of Brittany and the Loire Valley / Pays de la Loire

Population & what they are called: 298,029 inhabitants (2014 census), called Nantais

Access from Paris:

  • by road: about 3 h 45 min (238 miles) via the A11 autoroute L'Océane

  • by train: about 2 h 15 min by TGV from the Gare Montparnasse

  • by plane: about 1 h 15 min to Nantes Atlantique Airport

Famous native daughters & sons:

  • Jules Verne, writer

  • Jacques Demy, French New Wave film director

  • Christine and the Queen, singer and songwriter

Most distinctive and/or unique fact or trait (or little known fact):

  • One of the best ways to discover Nantes is by following a green line along the sidewalk. It leads visitors to Nantes' architectural, artistic, cultural and historical highlights.

  • Nantes is considered the birthplace of Surrealism, since André Breton (the founder of the movement) met Jacques Vaché (one of the movement's chief inspirations) here in 1916.

Notable sites:

  • Les Machines de l’Île – quirky mechanical automatons, including a 39-foot-tall walking Grand Elephant, with a little something to satisfy adults and kids (

  • Château des ducs de Bretagne – former ducal residence and now home of the Musée d’Histoire de Nantes with exhibitions about the city (

  • Cathédrale St-Pierre et Saint-Paul – Flamboyant Gothic cathedral housing royal tombs from the Renaissance

Top annual events:

  • La Folle Journée – the largest classical music festival in France (

  • Le Voyage à Nantes – a summer event highlighting contemporary art exhibitions across the city (

  • Rendez-vous de l'Erdre – couples a free jazz festival with a pleasure-boating show on the Erdre (

Most notable museums:

  • Musée d'Arts – an extensive fine arts collection ranging from Italian Renaissance paintings to contemporary sculpture (

  • Musée d’Histoire de Nantes – located in the Château des ducs de Bretagne, the museum retraces the story of the city (

  • Musée Jules Verne – interactive exhibitions bring to life the work of Jules Verne, the city’s native son (

Culinary specialties:

  • beurre blanc – a butter sauce made with Muscadet wine and a popular accompaniment for fish

  • biscuits – the Petit Beurre of Nantes (mass produced by the LU company) is the best-known shortbread in France

  • caramels au beurre salé – salted butter toffees made with some world-famous product from the famous Guérande salt marshes

Local wines & spirits:

  • Pays Nantais AOC wines – the largest vineyards of the Loire Valley and the heart of Muscadet country (the greatest single-varietal white wine vineyards in the world)

  • Le Nantillais – a natural syrup that, when used in small quantities with dry white wine, results in a satisfying aperitif


  • Marché de Talensac – a covered market, the largest and best-known in town

  • Passage Pommeraye – ornate, old-fashioned (built in the mid-19th century) three-level shopping arcade with a glass roof

  • Rue Crébillon – the street along which the most important designer stores are found, plus some interesting local labels

Most popular night spots:

  • Le Lieu Unique – former biscuit factory converted into a space that hosts art exhibits, drama, music and dance performances

  • La Cantine du Voyage – an outdoor (seasonal) bar/restaurant/shop on the quays of the Isle of Nantes

  • Le Hangar à Bananes – a former banana warehouse that today hosts an exhibition hall, concert venue, restaurants and bars overlooking the Loire (

Local population’s favorite activities (or hangouts):

  • Ile de Nantes – a wander on the Isle of Nantes takes in the creativity and modern architecture of this eco-friendly district, now a model of city living after 30 years of urban regeneration (

  • Estuaire Nantes<>Saint-Nazaire – with 30 permanent works of art, an open-air trail that provides an unusual way to discover the river estuary (

  • the beach – the Atlantic Coast at Baie de La Baule is a bay with five miles of fine sand

Local industries:

  • aeronautics – Airbus produces its fleet's wingboxes and radomes in Nantes, the second-largest center for aeronautics in France

  • Atlanpole – a technopole that includes nearly 500 companies and research and higher-education facilities that specialize in biopharmaceuticals, information technology, renewable energy, mechanics, food production, naval engineering and creative industries

In Pop Culture:

  • Jacques Demy movies – Lola (1964) and A Room in Town (1982) were both shot by this French New Wave director in Nantes, his native city

  • Jacquot de Nantes – a 1991 French drama film directed by Agnès Varda recreating the early life of her husband, Jacques Demy, in Occupied France

Major 2018 development:

The European Women's Handball Championship will be held in France in 2018 for the very first time


Marion Fourestier
Atout France-The France Tourism Development Agency
New York, 10022
United States