City summary: Nantes

Press release


Nantes claims allegiance to two places: Brittany, to which it is historically linked, and the Loire, of which it is presently a part. The split personality is rightfully embraced as its doubly rich heritage and proud tradition of intellectual curiosity and pursuit. So it should be no surprise that Surrealism traces its roots to Nantes. Or that Jules Verne is a native son whose steam punk visions inspired Machines de l’Île, home to quirky mechanical automatons, including a 39-foot-tall walking Grand Elephant. Or even that it is capital of Muscadet country, the largest vineyards of the Loire Valley.

Fun Facts

  • One of the best ways to discover Nantes is by looking for a green line along the sidewalk and following it 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.

Significant Site

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

Extraordinary Exhibit

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

Delectable Delights

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

  • Pays Nantais wines: the largest vineyards of the Loire Valley and the heart of Muscadet country

Legendary Local

Jacques Demy: film director who rose to notoriety through the French New Wave and by virtue of his celebrated visual style

Also in the Area

  • Alignements de Carnac: 3,000-plus prehistoric standing stones left as alignments, dolmens, tumuli and single menhirs amount to the largest such collection in the world

  • La Baule: a seaside resort with gorgeous villas, luxury hotels and an original mix of old Breton and exclusive culture along its five miles of beach

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

For more about what to see and do in and around Nantes, including on the “Art and History in Western France” itinerary, visit