View Map

Overview

A city of dreamers and explorers, Nantes was built on shipping, ship building and heavy industry, and it was this bustling industrial cityscape that inspired Jules Verne, author of such classic books as Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and Journey to the Center of the Earth, to literacy greatness. So when the traditional industries of the city began to decline a few decades ago, Nantes didn't just sit back and let everything turn to rot; instead, it looked to its creative side for ideas and the result was a giant, mechanical walking elephant with a sofa in its stomach. This might not sound like much of an idea but goodness ...

A city of dreamers and explorers, Nantes was built on shipping, ship building and heavy industry, and it was this bustling industrial cityscape that inspired Jules Verne, author of such classic books as Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and Journey to the Center of the Earth, to literacy greatness. So when the traditional industries of the city began to decline a few decades ago, Nantes didn't just sit back and let everything turn to rot; instead, it looked to its creative side for ideas and the result was a giant, mechanical walking elephant with a sofa in its stomach. This might not sound like much of an idea but goodness has it worked wonders. This elephant forms part of Les Machines de I'Île de Nantes, a fantasy world filled with supersized mechanical creatures such as scarily big prawns and, new for 2012, a three-story undersea carousel. Not surprisingly, tourists have been flocking into Nantes to see this lot and on arrival they've discovered that the city has plenty more to attract and intrigue as well — a huge castle recently restored to its former glory, a wealth of fine art galleries and museums, some superb restaurants and boutique hotels, numerous quirky little shops, a delightful park and easy access to some classic bucket and spade beach towns. With all of this, Nantes is one of the most happening and intriguing towns in the west of France.

Stuart Butler
About the Expert

Based in the French Basque Country, Stuart Butler writes guidebooks for Lonely Planet and Bradt on France, Spain, Norway and large parts of Africa and South Asia. He also works with numerous international surf magazines exploring the remoter coastlines of the world.

view full overview

Stuart Butler for Triporati

Compare Flight, Car Rental, and Hotel Rates

Note: A new window will open for each site you select.

Note: A new window will open for each site you select.

Note: A new window will open for each site you select.

Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Western France, on the Loire River
  • Language: French
  • Currency: Euro
  • Research: Wikipedia | Wikitravel

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Spring, summer and fall with spring being probably the prime time.