Weekend in Nantes

Megan McIntyre
Nov 27
A relaxing French weekend break, Nantes offers all the cuisine and culture you've come to expect from a trip to France.

Les Machines de l’île

10am

A unique art space, this is the highlight for any elephant fans. As well as exploring plentiful attractions around the former shipyards, The Grand Eléphant is my favourite - a gigantic moving pachyderm, it's best to witness it late Spring through early Autumn when spectators will be pleasantly surprised by a shower from its trunk. Around 50 passengers at a time can be transported around the Ile de Nantes on its back. Note: the Grand Elephant is undergoing maintenance until early 2018. Check www.lesmachines-nantes.fr/en for updates. 

Lunch

Leave the island behind and head north for a multitude of restaurants to pick from. If you feel like a light lunch, definitely try one of the many creperies in town or for something special, head to Le Bouchon (7 Rue Bossuet) for a tasty menu served in a charming setting. 

Castle time!

Afternoon

Spend the afternoon exploring the Château des ducs de Bretagne, which has served as both a military base and ducal court residence during its lengthy history. It's free to walk around the courtyard and ramparts, offering good views over the city. In 2006, an Urban History Museum opened which chronicles the castle, Nantes and Brittany's history. www.chateaunantes.fr/en/monument  

Drink with a view

I'm not going to recommend a restaurant for dinner - you'll be hard pressed to find a bad option in Nantes! - but definitely recommend heading up the Tour Bretagne to its 32nd floor bar, Le Nid, for an after-dinner drink or three. It offers a wonderful view of the city from its terrace and boasts a giant replica of a bird in its nest, worked into the very core of the bar. Must be seen to be believed... 

A bloomin' good start to your day

Jardin des Plantes

Hopefully you've enjoyed a tipple or two from the wonderful wine menus in all bars and restaurants, and aren't looking for an early start on day two! Definitely recommend a good sleep in followed by a hearty brunch, then head towards the Jardin des Plantes (open from 12.30pm) for a stroll around the city's largest botanical garden. At over 7,000 hectares in size and with more than 500 flowers, there'll be something seasonal to get you feeling relaxed and at one with nature. 

Jules Verne Museum

Daily 10am to 7pm

Born in Nantes, Jules Verne is no doubt the city's most famous son. The museum is a wonderful collection of manuscripts, illustrations, books and sometimes seemingly random objects from the author's life. A must for any Verne fans or budding writers, and a fabulous way to finish your weekend break. 

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