A World of Wanderlusting: Nantes, France

When I sat down to write this article, I thought to myself, This will be such a breeze! I lived in Nantes, France for four months, so I know what’s what!  Then I shook myself and reminded myself that it has been three–almost four years–since I’ve been to Nantes, and that I don’t know everything.

I do know, however, how much I love this city, then and now, because of it history, its people, its culture, and its food. I spent four of the hardest, best, and most life-changing months growing and learning while living there. So, without further ado, here are some reasons to go and sights to see in Nantes–France’s sixth largest city.

For the history buffs, Nantes is a hot-spot, rich with history, and has roots deriving from a pre-Roman era and was once a great sea port. Battles were fought here, the Edict of Nantes was issued here, Churches built and destroyed here, Queens lived and died here, Jules Verne was born here, and much, much more.

My favorite places to see would be: Chåteau des Ducs de Bretagne Castle of the Dukes of Brittany that houses several centuries of Medieval history and was the home of Queen Anne (also known as Anne of Brittany). There’s also the Cathedral, which was built over a span of 450 years from 1434-1893. You can catch a show at Theatre Graslin, an 18th century Theater and opera house, or stroll through Passage Pommeraye, a three-level shopping mall built in 1841.

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When you grow tired of soaking up the city’s splendor and to refuel, you can pop into one of the many cafes or crêperies. Nantes is known for its butter and the sea salt that comes from the nearby coast. Crepes, which are thin pancake-like pieces of magic, filled with either savory or dessert ingredients, are hands-down a must-have when visiting any part of France.

Brittany, where Nantes is located, is known for its Galettes, which are savory crepe traditionally filled with ham, Swiss cheese, and topped with a sunny-side-up egg. My favorite dessert crepe would be a crêpe caramel beurre salé, which is essentially buttery salted-caramel wrapped up into a paper-thin pancake. Who wouldn’t want that?

On a warm sunny day, you and your travel partners can grab a baguette, some Camembert cheese, and a bottle of wine and lay in one of the many parks to soak up some afternoon sun. At night, you can head to La Maison Café, a bar that is an entire house. Each room looks like a real room, so you can drink wine in the kitchen or sip margaritas in the bathroom, and feel a little bit like you’re in grown-up Disneyland.

Finally, one of my favorite places in all of Nantes is a place called Machine des Iles, or Island of Machines. Its website boasts that it’s a cross between Jules Verne and Leonardo Da Vinci’s creative genius, and it couldn’t be more true. Its biggest piece is called “The Great Elephant” and is an enormous 40ft tall mechanical elephant that you can ride around the old warehouse of the former shipyards of Nantes.

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I could not get enough of this beautiful city while I lived there, and now, writing this piece and looking back, I am reminded how much I love it. I would move there again in a heart beat. If you love culture, history, and butter, then book your plane tickets, because Nantes is waiting to greet you.