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Nantes Atlantic Loire Valley

The capital of France’s Atlantic Loire Valley, and just a short flight away from four UK airports, Nantes makes a vibrant French city break destination. With its art, culture and riverside lifestyle, it’s a great year-round destination. 

Frank Tomps LVAN

The arrival of summer in Nantes brings with it a season-long cultural festival and lazy afternoons on the banks of the Loire river, perfect for sipping local wine and watching the sunset. The city is also an ideal base for exploring the region’s nearby treasures, including the stunning Atlantic coast and iconic Loire Valley, both of which are just an hour’s drive away.

City culture

©A. Lamoureux

Nantes’ quirky Machines de l’Île theme park blends the imaginary worlds of French novelist and poet Jules Verne with the mechanical universe of Leonardo da Vinci. Aimed at kids aged 9 to 90, it’s just expanded further for 2019. In addition to the ride on the Grand Elephant with a water-spraying trunk, the robotic spider and the extraordinary carousel of the Marine Worlds, a 120-kilo sloth has now taken up residence. We recommend buying the Pass Nantes for 1-2 or 3 days, which gives admission to 30 sites, including the château des ducs de Bretagne, museums, as well as public transport.

A summer of art

© Matthieu Chauveau LVAN

From the 6th July – 1st September, Le Voyage à Nantes event literally turns the city upside-down with art. Follow the green line on the ground for a whistle-stop tour of city icons interspersed with pit stops to discover secret treasures and quirky works of art. Contemporary architecture rubs shoulders with historic alleyways as around 40 stages are joined together on the trail. Stop for lunch at La Cantine, a fun restaurant housed in a collapsible greenhouse on the banks of the Loire, colourfully dressed for the occasion by a group of local graphic designers.

Live like a local

© Jean-Dominique Billaud – Nautilus LVAN

Once you’ve had your urban fix, jump on the Navibus across the river to Trentemoult, a former fishing village, and now a suburb of Nantes where the locals go to get away from it all. Stroll around the narrow streets to discover brightly coloured tall houses, gardens filled with palm trees and local artist workshops – the area is another hub of artistic activity and home to over 20 professional artists. Make sure you take a break for a delicious meal next to the water on Quai Marcel Boissard, where you’ll find traditional bistros and crêperies.


Vitamin sea

© La Baule - A. Lamoureux

Fancy escaping the city? Just an hour’s drive from Nantes, the chic Atlantic coastal resort of La Baule is the ideal place to get some sea air. Its sweeping, nine-kilometre curve of sand is lapped by one of France’s most beautiful bays, where water sports include catamaran trips, jet skiing, windsurfing, kayaking and stand-up paddle-boarding. La Baule is also a major spa destination, with a focus on thalassotherapy which uses seawater for a host of luxurious treatments.

The Loire by bike

© Vignoble Marchais

Nantes is equally well placed for exploring the stunning Loire Valley. Nicknamed the ‘Garden of France’, it’s where majestic chateaux and formal gardens hug the riverbanks, and is home to numerous interactive tours and festivals. Cycle a section of La Loire à Vélo to discover the area from Nantes to Ancenis, stopping off at the guinguettes (riverside cafés) en route. Even closer to the city, wine-taste your way through the Nantes vineyards (vignoble de Nantes) and spend the night in a giant wine barrel at Le Vignoble Marchais!

Find out more about Nantes and Atlantic Loire Valley.



Terms and conditions:
Nantes from £39.99 one way pp, two flying.
T&Cs: 2,670 seats from London Gatwick (LGW) and 2,697 from London Luton (LTN) for travel to 28.3.20. Correct at 14.6.19.


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