Nantes was previously the capital of Brittany and, although it’s been separated from the region for over 60 years, it remains culturally attached. It’s also influenced by the Atlantic, and that can mean torrential rain from time to time. So if you are caught there in unseasonable weather, what is there to do?
Well, to start you’ll need some transport and if you haven’t rented a car at the airport, then there are plenty of tram lines and an excellent bus network to make sure you stay dry while you travel around. Take the opportunity to view some of Nantes’s architectural standouts while you’re warm and dry in your chosen mode of transport. The Château des Ducs de Bretagne
is a popular tourist attraction, especially at night when it is illuminated by specialised lighting created by Sylvie Sieg and Pierre Nègre of the Atelier Lumière. Église Notre-Dame de Bon-Port (officially known as the Basilica of St Louis) at the Place de Sanita is an impressive building with a dome modelled on Les Invalides in Paris. Look upwards and you’ll see a representation of the archangel Gabriel at the tip of the spire.
The island Ile de Versailles
is visible (and accessible) via tram line 2 and worth a visit, if the weather improves during your stay. The entire island is a Japanese garden and a great place to get lost in contemplation for an hour or two.
Whatever the weather, museums offer a great opportunity to pass the time while getting to know the history of your destination. Musée des Beaux-Arts de Nantes
was established in 1801 and houses the Cacult collection. François Cacult was an avid collector of art during the late 1700s, and his huge collection was bought by the city after his death, and added to since. Works cover the entire spectrum of Western painting from the 13th to the 21st centuries. Contemporary and international works include paintings, installations, video, and photography. The Jules Verne Museum
, dedicated to the memory of the great writer, is divided into eight rooms, each with a different theme, offering an insight into the author’s life and work. The Natural History Museum
is another exhibition space worth visiting. The Loire estuary is an unique ecosystem with fascinating flora and fauna, which the Natural History Museum explores and explains through its collections.
Eating and Shopping
When you’ve had your fill of museums, shopping is always a great way to get to know a place, while indulging in a little retail therapy. It’s also a good way to entertain yourself out of the rain.. The elegant shopping mall Passage Pommeraye
is a stylish place to spend an afternoon and has featured in several French movies. Refresh yourself after all that sightseeing and shopping by indulging in some authentic French food. You have plenty of options in Nantes, but one local specialty you should try is galettes, a heavier, savoury version of a crepe. Brasserie La Cigale
is a famous Nantes institution.