Amazing Sights to See During a Tour of Nantes, France

24

Aug

Because of the pandemic, I had to cancel some trips, including a trip to France to visit my brother Dominic studying abroad in Nantes. I’m hoping I can visit Nantes one day, especially after seeing all his photos! Dominic has already written guest posts for me about spending a weekend in Bordeaux and Saint-Émilion and a day trip to Pornic, and my family actually wrote about their week in France when they visited him! And today, Dominic has written a guest post on a tour of Nantes, France with all the incredible sights he got to see during his time there 🙂

Amazing Sights to See During a Tour of Nantes, France

Tour of Nantes

I had signed up for a tour of Nantes with some other exchange students through the school and we went downtown to explore the more touristic sights. We started at Audencia (my French college) and had to take a tram downtown, where we first went to a courtyard fountain called Place Royale. Place Royale was a downtown square that was originally built in 1790 and restored after WWII. It is a fantastic area to walk around and shop or eat.

Historic house in Nantes, France

Shopping mall downtown Nantes

Historic sights to see downtown

Théâtre Graslin was next on our tour of Nantes and is a theatre that is still used today! Built in the 18th century, it was destroyed by a fire in 1796, but reconstructed on the announcement of a visit from Emperor Napoleon in 1811. A very beautiful landmark that I passed dozens of times and never got tired of seeing was Château Des Ducs De Bretagne. Originally built in 1207, it was a castle for the Dukes of Brittany whenever they would visit the area. It is a popular tourist attraction and contains a museum within the castle walls.

Théâtre Graslin in Nantes

Église Saite-Croix de Nantes

Château Des Ducs De Bretagne

Château Des Ducs De Bretagne

The tallest building in the city, Tour Bretagne, offers beautiful sights from the roof and you are able to go for 1 euro and enjoy a relaxing bar as well. If you love photography, this building offers a wide range of selection and stretches of beautiful city scenery.

Views from the top of Tour Bretagne

Views from the top of Tour Bretagne

Historic cathedrals in Nantes

On the weekends, when I wasn’t leaving the city, my friends and I would randomly tour various sites and areas in Nantes. I am a huge fan of European cathedral architecture and stain glass windows and would visit everyone I saw.

One of the biggest and most popular churches is Nantes Cathedral, also called Foch Cathedral or the Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul of Nantes. It is in the Gothic architectural tradition and construction began in 1434 and took 457 years (until 1891) to complete! Unfortunately, just recently the church was set on fire and is temporarily closed. The roof was not damaged, so hopefully the church will only need minor repairs.

St. Peter’s and St. Paul’s Cathedral in Nantes

Foch Cathédrale in Nantes

Basilique Saint-Nicolas de Nantes was one of the many cathedrals I visited, but one of the few services I attended, and I only attended it by accident! My friend and I were exploring downtown and heard a choir singing so we thought we would stop in to hear for a little bit. It turned out to be an actual service and even though we didn’t understand what was happening, it was quite an experience and it is always enjoyable to hear an organ of that stature play.

This church is located in the very center city of Nantes and was erected from 1844-1869. Unfortunately, due to allied bombing in 1943, most of the original foundation was destroyed and was not restored until 1974.

Saint Nicolas Basilica in Nantes

Église Sainte-Croix de Nantes

St. Felix church is dedicated to the fifth century bishop of France, Felix of Nantes. Built in the 1840’s, it underwent two other periods of expansion and has had everything restored to how you will see it today. It never suffered any damages from war or fire, all the construction and restoration were due to expansion and keeping everything up to date and in prime condition.

Église Saite-Croix de Nantes church nicknamed the Holy Cross Church was built in the 17th century and during the French Revolution, served as a prison. The famous sci-fi author, Jules Verne, was baptized and received his birth certificate here. On top of the church, is a lovely clock and bell, which was melted in 1663 and weighs just over eight metric tons!

Musée D’Arts in Nantes

Just a few minutes away is Musée D’Arts! It was established in 1801 and contains paintings dating back to the 13th century. I got to see a lot of beautiful paintings and statues when I toured it.

Statue in Musée D’Arts in Nantes

Statues in Musée D’Arts in Nantes

Delicious food to eat in Nantes

I got to eat a lot of delicious food in Nantes, and Piazza d’Italia and La Petite Boulangerie were two of my favorite spots to grab a quick bite.

Sandwich with french fries in Nantes

Ham and bacon panini

Piazza d’Italia in Nantes

Piazza d’Italia in Nantes

Pastry from La Petite Boulangerie in Nantes

Nantes is a very easy and simple city to navigate and I quickly picked up on it despite not speaking or reading French! I relied on a GPS for my first week, but soon found myself knowing directions and landmarks. There were so many cafés for me to try and I based my knowledge of where I was on my most visited cafés.

I never had a bad pastry and boy did I try a lot! In my opinion, you cannot go wrong with some kind of chocolate pastry and that’s what I mostly ate.

Apple cobbler

Ham and spinach crêpe from Barapom

Ham and cheese crêpe from Barapom

One of the best restaurants I visited was a crêpe restaurant called Barapom! When I was younger, I had tasted a Canadian crêpe, but when in France, you do as the French do and I had no problem with trying them again. This place was so good that I, in fact, happened to go twice! I had three different kinds: chocolate, and ham, bacon, cheese, and spinach crêpes. As I’ve probably mentioned before, I did not eat a pastry that I didn’t enjoy, so I would recommend trying all of the foods.

Chocolate crêpe from Barapom

River Erdre in Nantes

Most of the time I walked three miles along the River Erdre to go to school. This was a beautiful walk in the mornings, as the sun was coming up right on the river and there was so much nature to see along this path. I chose to walk to as many places as I could, as to educate myself with the city and to walk off all the pastries that very quickly entered my diet.

River Erdre in Nantes

River Erdre in Nantes

River Erdre at sunset in Nantes

Beautiful parks and gardens in Nantes

Nantes has some beautiful parks and gardens around the city. Two of my favorites I recommend visiting on a tour of Nantes are Ile de Versailles and Parc de la Beaujoire.

L'lle de Versailles (Japanese botanical garden)

L'lle de Versailles (Japanese botanical garden)

Take a stroll through Ile de Versailles to see the beautiful Japanese Garden on the Erdre River that was created in 1831. It was used for boat operations until 1983 when it was transformed into how you see it today. On the island there is a mansion which serves as a museum that has exhibits on the river.

The landscape is richly planted with exotic plants such as bamboo, bald cypress, rhododendrons, camellias and Japanese cherry trees. The whole island is under two acres in size and you can walk through in under an hour.

Parc Floral de la Beaujoire

Parc Floral de la Beaujoire

Parc Floral de la Beaujoire

Historic white French house

Château de la Gobinière

Peacock by Château de la Gobinière

Cherry blossom blooming in Nantes

I lived a fifteen-minute walk from Parc de la Beaujoire, and it is a floral park built in 1971. It is most famous for its rose garden containing nearly 20,000 roses and remains of an old farm and local quarries. It has been awarded the French Conservatory of Specialized Plant Collections (CCVS). The park is two and a half acres and even in March, it was a lovely area to walk through and spend some time outside and see some beautiful flowers.

Parc Floral de la Beaujoire

Parc Floral de la Beaujoire

Orvault Mansion in France

Sunset over houses in Nantes

Other fun things to do in Nantes

I didn’t get to attend a soccer game when I was in Nantes, but FC Nantes does have games in the city! If you get the chance to go to a game, I would recommend it. Even though I didn’t get to see a game in action, after an evening class one night, I walked home and passed the stadium and grabbed dinner from vendors.

Football stadium in Nantes

Every Monday night, all the business students were invited to hangout at a local bar called la Maison Café. It looks like a regular home and played very loud 80’s music. As a fan of oldies music, I enjoyed the atmosphere, so if you prefer 80s music over regular clubs, I recommend checking out la Maison Café.

I hope you enjoyed my tour of Nantes! There are lots of amazing sights to see and so much more I want to explore when I go back 🙂

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  1. Hazel says:

    Hi Julia! Great post! I learned a lot about Nantes! I wish i can visit there someday too! And I’m also a huge fan of European cathedral architecture and stain glass windows. They’re just amazing to look at and be inspired with the creativity behind creating them! I would have also enjoyed eating a lot pastries as well
    just like what you did – and yes, to getting those with choco fillings. Nothing can go wrong with those! 🙂

  2. Francesca says:

    II really need to explore more towns in France. Nantes looks like a great place to start! I would love to see the Parc de la Beaujoire and eat all of the amazing food like the pastries!

  3. Caitlin says:

    What a wonderful place to get to study abroad! I’m sorry you had to cancel your trip. My brothers were supposed to come visit me in England from the U.S. but that had to be cancelled too. I hope you get to visit soon, or explore together another time.

  4. MacKenzie says:

    Oh, I hope you can go to Nantes soon! It looks like a lovely town to visit, I’m glad he enjoyed the town as much as he could.

  5. Yordanka says:

    Love your post about Nantes! So many beautiful places to see and explore! Can’t wait to visit France and visit this beautiful town.

  6. Francesca says:

    Looks like an awesome city!! Your images and description transported me there!

  7. Amy Dent says:

    Such a wonderful experience! Love the photos 😀

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