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Destination Guide: Nantes

A striking château, zingy wines and mechanical animals
In Nantes, 18th-century grandeur meets vibrant contemporary arts on the banks of the River Loire. Take in the city from a quirky viewpoint - while riding on the back of the Ile de Nantes' giant mechanical elephant.

Food and Drink

Fresh seafood and crisp Muscadet wine. Restaurants in the old city serve fish plucked straight from the River Loire and Atlantic Ocean. Dine in lavish Art Nouveau surroundings at national monument Brasserie La Cigale, or at the chic former LU Biscuit Factory. Foodies stock up on local cheeses and Muscadet white wine at Talensac Market.

Sightseeing and relaxation

Maritime history and Gothic towers. The grand Castle of the Dukes of Brittany Museum traces Nantes' history back to its days as a colonial port and a former regional capital. Stroll past 18th-century merchants' townhouses on Rue Kervegan in the Île Feydeau quarter, and admire the imposing Gothic Cathedral of St Peter and St Paul in the old town.

Shopping

High-end fashion and antique curios. Smart boutiques line up along Rue Crébillon, but take a walk along the 19th-century Passage Pommeraye to see upscale designer stores beneath a lavishly decorated arcade. Antique hunters keep an eye out for bargains in bric-a-brac stores along Rue Jean Jaures and sweet-toothed shoppers take home decadent treats from Nantes' venerable artisan chocolatiers.

Nightlife and Entertainment

Elegant opera and contemporary arts. Start with an apéritif at a classy café on Place Graslin, before watching opera at the colonnaded Théâtre Graslin. Contemporary dance, music and drama shows take place beneath the domed tower of former biscuit factory Lieu Unique in the city centre. Bars stay open late around the old town's cobbled alleys.