Nantes sits on the River Loire and is now the capital of the region - although it was previously the capital of Brittany. After a great deal of heavy bombing in the Second World War it was extensively rebuilt but still retains the 11 main neighbourhoods that made up the historic city quarters. Today it's one of the most environmentally aware of all French cities - a fact which has earned it the title of European Green Capital for the commitment to cut CO2 emissions. It was also birth place of Jules Verne, author of “Around the World in 80 days”.
Visit Nantes and you won't be able to miss its huge cathedral. Building started in 1434 and was finally completed over 450 years later in 1893. Since then it has suffered two main misfortunes- extensive damage in the war and a major roof fire in 1972. However it's been completely restored and, at 37 metres, its nave is even higher than Notre Dame's in Paris. After wondering at its sheer scale you can also visit an exhibition about its history in the crypt. Another very imposing building is the Château des Ducs, which homes the Musée d'Histoire de Nantes, and gives a comprehensive account of the area's past. For some fresh air, head for the Jardin des Plantes de Nantes. Here you'll be able to find three centuries of botanic history created thanks to sailors bringing seeds back from around the world after their travels. These have been carefully cultivated by expert gardeners to create one of France's finest parks. The Loire is a very beautiful river so why not also think about taking a cruise along it? There are many to choose from lasting from an hour or two to the full day's excursion. If you'd prefer to explore on your own, rent a car from Nantes and head off at your own pace.
Opening hours: Mo-Th 0800-1230 1400-1800, Fr 0800-1230 1400-1900, Sa 0800-1200 1630-1930, Su Closed
Address: 2 rue Marguerite Yourcenar
Opening hours: Mo-Fr 0700-2230, Sa 0730-2200, Su 0730-2230
Address: Aeroport De L'Atlantique, Bouguenais
Opening hours: Mo-Th 0730-2100, Fr 0730-2200, Sa 0800-1230 1430-1800, Su 1000-1230 1730-2030.
Address: Rue Cornulier