Cheap flights to Nantes
Known for years as une belle endormie (a sleeping beauty), today Nantes, France’s sixth-largest city, is alive and kicking.
A city of perfectly manicured parks and gardens, wide attractive boulevards and a pedestrianised old town full of medieval buildings, it’s no wonder that Nantes is often described as one of the best places to live in France. And, when it comes to entertaining tourists, it’s pretty impressive too.
As the former capital of Brittany and one of the first industrial cities in France, this place boasts a history that rivals any in Europe and is packed with historical goodies at every turn. Imposing Gothic cathedrals, 10th century castles, regal looking squares and 19th century shopping arcades; they’re all here and more. And, with a young student population, as well as a whole host of bars, pubs and jazz cafes dotted around the city, it is safe to say that Nantes is one of the hippest cities in France at the moment. All sounds good so far!
The Festival des 3 Continents, on 25 November - 2 December, will showcase full-length feature films from Africa, Asia and South America. 3continents.com
From 8 July to 15 August the festival Aux Heures d'Eté presents concerts, children's shows, cinema, readings and music from around the world. auxheuresete.com
The Cathedrale de Saint-Pierre et Saint-Paul is a stunning piece of architecture, complete with beautiful stained-glass windows and tombs, including that of François II. Don't miss the crypts. The guided tour is particularly worthwhile (Place Saint-Pierre, cathedrale-nantes.cef.fr).
In June, watch out for a mysterious giant figure who will fall from the sky and be paraded through the streets of the city. To find out the exact date ask at the Tourist Office (9 Rue des États) for info about "Les Géants de Royal de Luxe".
The Japanese Garden on the Quai de Versailles is curiously relaxing, even in the winter and especially in the rain! Fountains, waterfalls, stepping stones and clever planting make it exceptionally photogenic. french-gardens.com
Les Utopiales is a science fiction festival running from 29 October to 3 November and including shows, concerts, films and talks at the Centre des Congrès de Nantes. nantes-tourisme.com
Les Machines de l'Ile is the top attraction in Nantes. A series of gigantic puppet-creatures operated by ropes, the surreal spectacle brings to mind some strange mix of Jules Verne and Leonardo da Vinci. Ride the elephant or the Marine Worlds Carousel, which features 27 moving sea creatures. lesmachines-nantes.fr/en
Go to the Jules Verne Museum, which, although small, contains original manuscripts as well as books, documents and personal belongings of the author (3 Rue de l'Hermitage).