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Cities of France - Nantes

A former capital of Brittany, Nantes is a beautiful city which enchants both locals and newcomers alike with its white stone sculptured buildings, trimmed wrought-iron balconie and ancient cobblestone streets.

The sixth largest city in France, Nantes is considered one of the best places to live, especially for those who enjoy arts, music and a rich social life, but who choose not to live in Paris. In fact, in 2004, Time magazine named Nantes as "the most liveable city in Europe".

Historically a part of Brittany, Nantes is the capital of the Pays de la Loire Région in northwestern France, on the Loire River. The city is well served with transportation. There’s an efficient rail system, including the TGV (Train à Grande Vitesse) from Paris Montparnasse. The local airport, Nantes Atlantique Airport has an excellent shuttle system which connects to the city, allowing a fast trip between the airport and the city centre.

All this achieved by being environmentally aware. This year, the European Commission awarded Nantes the title of European Green Capital for its efforts to reduce air pollution and CO2 emissions, for its high quality and well-managed public transport system and for its biodiversity with 3,366 hectares of green spaces and several nature protection zones.

Located in one on the best regions for wine, Nantes produces many respected wines including Muscadet, and Gros Plant. When visiting, you may wish to take an extra empty suitcase with you, so you can pack it with wine for your return trip home.

The local wines are the perfect accompaniment for fish and some of the area’s other great seafood cuisine. Nantes restaurants are famous for serving oysters with the local Muscadet wine. If you don’t enjoy oysters when you first arrive, you’ll probably develop a taste for them before leaving. They’re that good .. and the wine doesn’t hurt either.

Other local specialties include the biscuit Petit Beurre, Berlingot Nantais (a French candy created during the 19th century), galettes which are a heavier, less sweet version of the crepe and the cheese, Fromage du curé nantais. This tasty cheese was developed over the course of ten years from cows milk by a Nantes priest. Often eaten between meals to sustain the appetite, the Fromage du curé nantais cheese is perfect combined with Muscadet.

Due to the historic nature of Nantes, just like all of the beautiful cities in Europe, the visitor can travel back in time, enjoying walking tours through the charming streets. The Castle of the Dukes of Brittany (Château des ducs de Bretagne), is almost the oldest building in Nantes, second only to the Cathedral. Be sure to visit the inner courtyard with its blistering white tufa stone, artfully constructed during the Renaissance. The Nantes History Museum is located inside, and is worthy of long visit to enjoy this spectacle. Just a short distance away, you’ll find a wonderful area of shops and restaurants in the shadow of the Chateau des ducs de Bretagne.

The charming gardens are also a popular; visitors would be wise to investigate the garden tours, and add a few extra days onto the stay in Nantes, to see these world famous jardins.

In Nantes, the hint of sea air will tickle your nose, the spectacular view of the majestic river will overwhelm your senses. Ah yes, Paris is certainly one of the most beautiful cities in the world, but Nantes is one of the most charming while boasting an exciting night life; Nantes has one foot in each world.