Hotels in Nantes
A stay immersed in the culture and easy relaxation of Nantes
The historic capital of Brittany, Nantes, is a town with a charming and rich heritage. History enthusiasts, architecture lovers, couples or families looking for a destination that’s both relaxing and enriching will fully appreciate an escape to Nantes. With friends, you will benefit equally from the cultural and the lively social sides of the city, for example by sampling a white Loire wine at a good restaurant. During a hotel stay, you will have lots of free time not just to visit the Loire-Atlantique and to relax in the heart of the exceptional natural heritage, but also to profit from its gastronomic specialities. By staying at the Radisson Blu Hotel, you will be placed right in the town centre, in a hotel entirely renovated to provide maximum comfort. You can discover all the city’s main attractions without having to use a car, and you can relax in the hotel’s fitness centre and spa. Don’t miss tasting the local specialities either in the restaurant, L’Assise, or sipping a cocktail at the bar, Le Préamble. There’s no better place to spend an excellent time in Nantes.
For your stay in Nantes, the Radisson Blu has prepared everything with your comfort in mind. The hotel is situated in the heart of the city within the historic Palais de Justice: entirely renovated for your comfort, the building preserves its colonnaded façade and its numerous statues. This remarkable building is made up of 142 rooms designed by Jean-Philippe Nuel, the renowned architect and interior decorator, and are all equipped with high-speed Wi-Fi and a minibar. If you’re intending to relax, nothing beats taking advantage of the hotel fitness centre and spa, before sampling the local gastronomic specialities in L’Assise restaurant.
A Breton history
An important city during the Gallo-Roman period, Nantes still has an important role to play within the region. It was propelled to the status of a major city when it became the capital of the Duchy of Brittany in the 15th century, even though it then lost the title of capital to Rennes. Since it was highly involved in international commerce, sadly it played a major role in the slave trade in the following centuries. It was weakened during the French Revolution due to its participation in the Vendée Wars, and then re-established much of its prosperity following an important industrial development in the 19th century. Today, it is both a major port (the Nantes-Saint-Nazaire port) and university city, as well as being a business service sector hub.
All the wealth of Nantes’ heritage
In visiting Nantes, you will travel from the Middle Age to the modern day, passing through the Renaissance and the Golden Ages of the Breton Kingdom. Amongst the most iconic sites to visit are the Castle of the Dukes of Brittany, which dates back to the 15th century, the Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul, which took nearly 500 years to build, and the Bouffay Quarter with its little medieval-style alleyways and its half-timbered houses. The Passage Pommeraye, whose gallery dates back to the 19th century, and its numerous shops are all must-sees. Finally, make a detour to Les Machines de l’île, where you will discover a fantastic universe created by large mechanical sculptures.
Walking and cycling opportunities
The pleasant climate and sunshine during a Nantes summer makes it an attractive season for discovering the city. During your stay, you will find it’s very enjoyable to travel on foot, and this will be very easy if you stay at the Radisson Blu, which is situated right in the heart of the city. Don’t hesitate to use the public transport either: numerous buses and three tramlines traverse the city, as well as two water taxis allowing you to travel whilst admiring the city views. With more than 370 km of cycle paths, the conurbation of Nantes is well adapted for cyclists; you can easily hire a bike through the self-service bike system, Bicloo.
Both the former ducal residence of François II, and a royal fortress before being converted into a prison then into military barracks, the Castle of the Dukes of Brittany is an iconic example of Nantes’ rich history. The modern buildings date back to between the 14th and 18th centuries and are enclosed by 15th century ramparts. In addition to its interesting architecture, the Castle of the Dukes allows you to dive right into the heart of Nantes and Breton’s history: it houses the Nantes Historical Museum, which retraces the city’s history throughout the centuries with collections spread across more than 30 rooms.
The Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul
Built by order of the Duke of Brittany Jean V in the 15th century, the Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul was under construction for almost 500 years. Despite the duration of this work, the monument is in a remarkably consistent gothic style. With a height of 63 metres, the cathedral had some problems in the 20th century, when it was affected by Second World War bombing, and then incurred further damage in a fire in the early 1970s. However, great restoration efforts have given it back most of its former grandeur. Inside, you can admire the tombs and recumbent statues of François II, Duke of Brittany, and his wife Marguerite de Foix from the 16th century, and also the 500 m2 of modern stained glass.
Les Machines d’île
Les Machines d’île is a group of partly mechanised vast installations, arranged like an open-air museum, built on former shipyards. Incorporating a mixture of Jules Verne-style ‘invented worlds’, Leonardo de Vinci’s mechanical universe and Nantes’ industrial heritage, these sculptures offer a poetic route that will be appreciated by adults and children alike. Amongst the most symbolic Machine d’île pieces, you can admire the Grande Éléphant, which welcomes up to 52 passengers on a panoramic trip to the Trentemoult village in the Place du Commerce.
Japanese Gardens and Botanical Gardens
Beyond its architectural heritage, Nantes is a verdant city that is home to many remarkable parks and gardens. Ideal for relaxing, walking, or picnics, the Botanical Gardens stretch over more than 70 000m2: here you will discover a variety of plants and flowers, as well as tranquil green spaces and even waterfalls. During your stay in Nantes, you should also visit the Japanese Gardens on the Ile de Versailles, which will take you through a world where bamboo, Japanese cherry trees, stone ornaments, waterfalls, and camellias all take centre stage.
The majority of restaurants are located in the city centre, in particular to the west of La Rue de Strasbourg. Here you will find not just international cuisine, whether it be Asian, Turkish or Italian, but also a large choice of French restaurants where you can sample some of the local specialities: fish in Nantes butter sauce, bacon, or Le Curé Nantais, the region’s cheese. You will encounter many establishments that showcase French cuisine around La Rue Mercoeur, near the Brittany Tower, and further south near La Place Graslin. Numerous bars are spread out across the city, with a high concentration in the centre, especially in the Quartier Bouffay and near the Commerce tram station.
Events and entertainments
All year round, the city comes alive with various festivals and a warm atmosphere. Amongst the most important events of the year, you can single out the Rencontres du Fleuve: these biennial walking ‘meetings’ allow you to discover the sea-faring vessels of different centuries. On the arts festival side, the Biennial Modern Art, Estuaire, presents various works that have been created mainly to link the central part of Nantes with the estuary of the Loire. Concerts and shows celebrating the arts include Printemps des Arts, Aux Heures D’Été, and Rendez-Vous de l’Erde festivals.
Where to go out in Nantes
For entertaining evenings, head for the city centre, where you will find a plethora of wine bars, Irish pubs, bars with concert venues, and numerous discos which regularly host well-known DJs. Aim around La Rue De Strasbourg and Cours des 50-Otages to soak up a lively atmosphere at dusk. If you want to grab a drink or sip a cocktail in the city centre, go to Le Préamble bar at the Radisson Blu Nantes; a setting that expertly blends modernity with tradition, allowing you to relax as a couple or with friends.
40 minutes to the northeast of Nantes is Clisson, a charming city crammed with history. Its medieval castle is a fortress that witnessed the city’s key role in the defence of the Marches de Bretagne. Its numerous bridges, markets dating back to the 15th century, as well as the Templiers Chapel, a 12th century Romanesque church, are amongst the buildings that make a visit to Clisson enlightening. It’s worth noting that the city also hosts two big, polar-opposite cultural festivals: Hellfest, one of the biggest gatherings of heavy-metal music in Europe, and the Italiennes de Clisson, where shows, concerts, and entertainment are organised around a theme of Italian culture.
An unmissable day-trip destination, La Baule is one of the most famous seaside resorts along the Côte d’Amour and is only one hour by car from Nantes. It is particularly famous for its sand dunes and for its vast fine sandy beach, often considered one of the prettiest in Europe. In the town you can discover many Belle Epoque villas, the casino and thalassotherapy centres. On the route from Nantes to La Baule, you can stop off at Saint-Nazaire and see its Chantiers de l’Atlantique, the famous shipyards.
Guérande and the salt marshes
Roughly ten minutes from the route to Le Baule, lies Guérande, a city made famous by its salt marshes. This is a medieval city with a picturesque charm, which has preserved the ramparts surrounding its 1,400 m circumference, towers and fortified gates, and its pretty cobbled streets. Don’t miss a visit to the magnificent Saint-Aubin’s collegiate church either, situated in the heart of the medieval city and classed as a historic monument. The salt marshes of the Guérande island are a beautiful place to spend time in nature, and for the chance to admire the migrating birds which stop here. The Salt Marshes of Batz-sur-Mer Museum gives the opportunity to learn more about the history of salt in the region.
Le logis de la Chabotterie
To familiarise yourself with the vendéen heritage of Nantes, nothing is better than a stop off at the Logis de la Chabotterie, in Saint-Sulpice-le-Verdon. This charming castle situated in the heart of a pretty enclosed garden, houses a permanent exhibition that allows you to discover the history of the Vendean War and of General Charette, who had a key role in the war. Every summer, it hosts a Baroque music festival, Musiques à la Chabotterie.