Just two hours away from Mont-Saint-Michel, in the south of Brittany, Nantes was dubbed the ‘loopiest city in France’ by The Sunday Times. Follow the city’s Green Line to find out why…
9am: Walk in the Jardin des plantes, seven hectares of greenery in the city centre, and one of the top botanical gardens in France.
10am: Visit the Cathédrale Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul and admire a 16th-century masterpiece of marble: the tomb of Anne de Bretagne’s parents, François II, Duke of Brittany, and his wife Marguerite de Foix.
11am: See the Château des ducs de Bretagne, the centre of the historical province of Brittany, and visit its museum tracing the history of Nantes.
12.30pm: Have lunch in one of the crêperies in the centre of town selected by Les Tables de Nantes.
2pm: Visit the renovated and extended Musée d’arts, at once a 19th-century palace and a contemporary museum. Art from the 20th and 21st centuries, including 11 Kandinskys and two Monets, accounts for 55 per cent of the collection.
4.30pm: Have a break at Art Deco brasserie La Cigale in the Graslin area.
5pm: Shop in the Passage Pommeraye, a 19th-century covered alleyway.
6pm: Take a cruise on the Erdre. Elegant châteaux, manor houses and 18th-century follies succeed one another along the banks of the river. Take them in at your leisure as you sail slowly by.
8pm: Dine in one of the restaurants selected by Les Tables de Nantes.
9pm: Discover Le lieu unique, a cultural centre in a former LU biscuit factory, for a lively evening.
Midnight: Nantes boasts seven artist’s rooms: the Okko, Cambronne, Mercure Nantes Centre, Amiral, Hôtel de France, La Péniche le d’Ô and Micr’Home.
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9am: Visit the Memorial to the Abolition of Slavery, a 400m walkway along the quayside from the passerelle Victor-Schoelcher to the pont Anne-de-Bretagne, then walk over the footbridge to the Île de Nantes, where contemporary architecture is blooming.
10am: See all 49 tonnes of the mechanical Grand Éléphant, part of the Machines de l’Île, as it takes its daily stroll along the Loire.
12pm: Visit the art exhibition in the HAB gallery and have an apéritif in the former banana warehouses near the Anneaux de Buren.
1pm: Lunch at La Cantine, which serves traditional cuisine on the quayside.
3pm: Take the Navibus across the Loire and stroll around the coloured houses and narrow streets of former fishing village Trentemoult.
4pm: Have coffee at La Civelle restaurant, near the Loire in Trentemoult.
5pm: Visit the Musée Jules Verne (a Nantes native) and discover the panoramic view from the belvedere created by Japanese artist Kawamata.
7pm: Dine in a restaurant selected by Les Tables de Nantes.
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The Art Trail: Estuaire Nantes-Saint-Nazaire
Follow the 60km art trail along the Loire, where you can discover 31 art installations on foot, by bike, by boat and by car. www.estuaire.info
Producing Muscadet wine and offering surprising landscapes, explore these fruity, refreshing and complex wines. www.visitnantesvineyard.com
Visit Saint-Nazaire, La Baule, Guérande and its salt marshes, and go further to Rennes, Saint-Malo and Mont-Saint-Michel. www.voyage-en-bretagne.com
Le Voyage à Nantes
From July 4 to August 30, the Voyage à Nantes brings the Green Line urban trail to life. Artists, designers, gardeners, cooks, DJs and graffiti artists exhibit in public spaces.With 60 amazing steps to link up the whole cultural package, the town goes a little bit further off-beat than normal. www.levoyageanantes.fr
Les Rendez-vous de l’Erdre
Soak up this jazz festival held at the end of September. www.rendezvouserdre.com
Enjoy this open-air metal, rock and punk festival in Clisson from June 19-21. www.hellfest.fr
From France Today magazine