Reasons Why You Should Visit Nantes at Least Once

Nantes, France.
Nantes, France. | © RossHelen editorial / Alamy Stock Photo

Nantes is the perfect destination for a city break. It’s a vibrant university city where history and the present day are fused to offer visitors art, culture and fun (not to mention really tasty cuisine… you’re in France, after all). Here are Culture Trip’s top reasons why Nantes should be on your holiday radar.
Did you know you can now travel with Culture Trip? Book now and join one of our premium small-group tours to discover the world like never before.

Loved by over 40s

Machines of the Isle

The Great Elephant carries passengers around the old shipyards of Nantes, France.

Let your inner child come out and play at Machines de l’île. This unique spot, inspired by the works of Jules Verne and Leonardo da Vinci, is an artistic theme park (of sorts!) for the entire family. The iconic giant elephant is the star of the show, of course, but the impressive workshop with other mechanical creatures is also a must-see. This is a truly unique mini universe in Nantes.

Île de Nantes

Quai Des Antilles, Nantes, France.

Île de Nantes is an island neighbourhood of Nantes located in the city centre, surrounded by the Loire River. Part of a massive redevelopment project, Île de Nantes is a fascinating section of the city to spend some time in. It comprises four districts. If you’re looking for art, head over to Republic, and to walk off that lunch, stroll through the Parc de Beaulieu. The Quai des Antilles is also one of the island’s highlights – here, you’ll find wide paths for strolling, bar terraces and the impressive installations.

Château country

Chenonceau chateau, Loire Valley.

Nantes is the city to use as a base if you want to do some rural exploring as well. You’re on the edge of Château country, so if you hire a car during your stay, you’ll be able to delve into the gorgeous Loire Valley and explore some of France’s most stunning castles. Reading our guide to The Most Magical Châteaux and Castles in the Loire Valley is a good place to start if this is right up your alley.

Beach day trips

Pier on Plage des Dames on the island of Noirmoutier, France.

As well as being on the edge of Château country, Nantes is only a hop, skip and a jump to the sea. This makes Nantes just as attractive for summer breaks as it does winter; when you’ve seen the sights, schedule a few day trips to the beach. One of the nearby gems to the southwest is the stunning island Noirmoutier-en-l’Île. Sand dunes meet pine forests, all within a couple of hours drive.

HAB Galerie

HAB Galerie is located on Île de Nantes, right at its western tip. It is part of the industrial shed unit – called Hangar à Bananes as bananas and pineapples from Africa were stored here from 1959 to 1070 – and is what modern Nantes is all about: creative spaces celebrating past trade. The gallery itself is a light, airy space, with a well-stocked shop attached.

Breathtaking churches

Cathedrale Saint Pierre et Saint Paul, Nantes.

Nantes is home to some breathtaking churches and cathedrals. Nantes Cathedral (Cathédrale Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul de Nantes)is one of the city’s most notable historical structures and should be your first stop. Other places to visit include the neo-Gothic Basilique Saint-Nicolas, with its beautiful windows and floors, and the impressive bell tower of the Église Sainte-Croix.

Jardin des plantes de Nantes

Jardin des Plantes, Nantes.

The Jardin des plantes de Nantes is such a fun space! Enter for free, amble up and down the pretty pathways, and explore the impressive plant exhibitions and installations. This is definitely one of the most playful, stimulating city parks you’ll come across.

Musée des Beaux-Arts de Nantes

The Musée des Beaux-Arts is the city’s most visited museum and should definitely be a reason to take a break in this vibrant pocket of France. It was closed for five years due to a heavy renovation schedule, opening again in the spring of 2017. The new space doesn’t disappoint: vast (including 2,000 square metres of exhibition space) and well thought out, this ambitious art space is another (big) reason why Nantes is a city of culture. It’s a reasonable €8 to enter, with an even more reasonable €10 for the year-long Art Museum Pass.

Le Lieu unique

Old biscuit factory Le Lieu Unique, Nantes, Loire Atlantique, France.

Interesting fact about this building – it used to be a biscuit factory. Today, Le Lieu unique is a contemporary arts and music venue that opened in 2000. There is a really full calendar here, so take a look at their What’s On section in English and you’ll be sure to find something interesting that coincides with your trip.

Château des ducs de Bretagne

Chateau des ducs de Bretagne, Nantes.

Step back into history in this beautiful 13th century château right in the heart of the city. You can enter the courtyard and the ramparts free of charge, so even if you’re travelling on a budget, there is no reason to miss out on Nantes’ main landmark. There is an insightful museum and many events and exhibitions are put on throughout the year.
Looking for travel inspiration for your next getaway? Browse our collections of Epic Trips, Mini Trips and Sailing Trips to explore the world with the help of our Local Insiders.

culture trip left arrow
 culture trip brand logo

Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip

meet our Local Insider


women sitting on iceberg


2 years.


It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.


I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!

culture trip logo letter c
group posing for picture on iceberg
group posing for picture on iceberg

Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.

map of volcanic iceland trip destination points
culture trip brand logo
culture trip right arrow
landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.


Keen to explore the world?

Our passionately curated premium small-group trips are an invitation to connect with like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences.