Formerly known as the Little Venice of the West, Nantes lost the name after filling the many waterways of the Loire that crossed it. Its river, however, remains inseparable from its history. It’s no coincidence that the Estuaire project, which enriches the Loire’s banks with artistic works, has contributed to the city’s success in recent years. As a green city, the city of Nantes honours the bicycle. So why not combine the discovery of its cultural heritage with the pleasure of cycling?
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Scale the heights of butte Sainte-Anne, near the Lunar Tree, to admire the city crossed by the Loire. At Quai de la Fosse, go down to the moving Mémorial de l’Abolition de l’Esclavage. Head over to Place Graslin and its theatre in the pedestrianised shopping area and don’t miss Passage Pommeraye and Place Royale before admiring the 18th century mansions of île Feydeau. Looming from the adjoining old town district of Bouffay is Château des Ducs de Bretagne. The Cathedral is a stone’s throw away and you’ll see the LU tower rising above, a watchtower for the renowned Lieu Unique.
Saddle up for an Estuaire route that starts from a north shore setting inherited from the shipyards, at the foot of the Chaviré Bridge. Pedal 20 minutes for La Serpentine Rouge at Basse-Indre and La Maison dans La Loire at Couëron. The ferry port at Launay takes you to Le Pellerin. The Bateau Mouche “Misconceivable” is 3km to the west, or follow signs for the Vélocéan for a more rustic return. Other installations await at Château du Pé and Port Lavigne, before Le Pendule in the charming village of Trentemoult. The Navibus will take you to Quai de la Fosse, facing the Anneaux de Buren, so pretty at night.
In the morning, as herons and cormorants bask in Versailles quay, pedal alongside the barges on the Erdre to Pont de la Tortière. Don’t miss the Jardin Japonais on the island before taking a break at Café de l’Orangerie at the Jardin des Plantes. From the south side, go to the Observatorium de la Petite Amazonie and, from Pont Eric Tabarly, get to the banks of I’île de Nantes, THE emerging district. Between Parc du Crapa and new architecture, visit the Mètre à Ruban rue La-Noue-Bras-de-Fer. Enjoy a pleasant end to the day in the trendy Machines quarter.
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