One of Loire Atlantique’s top attractions has got to be (my number 16 only because of its geography)Nantes, or rather what lives there
it’s 12 metres tall, 8 metres wide and to see is to fall in love quite forgetting that it’s made of 45 tons of wood & steel. One bat of those long eyelashes and you are smitten, if you are there early enough it will even take you for a ride on its back and if you happen to be a spectator on one of its strolls, you might get a squirt from its trunk. Not to be missed is the grand opening of the Marine Life Carrousel on the 15 July this year when all sort of fantastical creatures will be keeping the elephant company and delighting visitors. As part of the exhibition, I also recommend seeing the workshop as these creations are made of wood and metal alone, no fancy electronics, microchips or other gadgets. They are a magical mix of winches, pulleys and cogs, so it is wonderful to see them taking shape under the craftsmanship of the artisans. The museum is also highly recommended as an insight into the stages of making the elephant and what is yet to come.
A visit to Nantes wouldn’t be complete without seeing the newly restored Chateau des ducs de Bretagne, this castle is free to enter and a delight to explore its nooks, crannies and ramparts. It also houses one of the best (in my opinion) museums which is so hands on and child friendly it can easily take 2 to 3 hours to visit. A real must-see. Also on the list is the Lu Tower, originally built in 1909 by the biscuit company LU it’s now open to the public for great views over the city on its revolving ‘gyrorama’ and is home to a café and arts centre. Of the same period but on the other end of the opulance scale is the magnificent 1900 Art Nouveau ‘Cigale Brasserie’, well worth paying over the odds for a cuppa in there.
Nantes holds many more delights, The Jardin des Plants, the river Erdre boat trips, the little train tours for young and young at heart, the recently renovated banana warehouses to the right of the elephant’s domain which are now home to bars, cafés, restaurants and boutiques, the vibrant shopping district, many and varied restaurants and the best bit is that you can park in one of the many free car parks on the outskirts and get a tram or bus to the heart of the city, how stressfree is that? In April Nantes hosts a wonderful carnival and at the end of August there’s on of the best free music festivals I’ve ever experienced; Les Rendez-Vous de L’Erdre .
All this is just 30 minutes away from us so what are you waiting for, contact us for a booking and come and enjoy yourself. For a more detailed read about the city of Nantes click qui and to find out more about what’s on in 2012 visit the Nantes tourist Board website