My Favorite Day Trips from Nantes

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Grace Heaton
May 10, 2024

The Loire-Atlantique is a region of France rich in culture, delicious food, and plenty of things to see and do. While it is so important to travel and explore other areas of France and different countries while abroad, make sure to reserve some time to explore the area around Nantes as well.

One of the great trips that IES Abroad organized for us was to Clisson, an Italian architecture inspired town situated about a 45 minutes from Nantes city center. While we explored Clisson and the area via bus, it is also accessible by train! So for whatever reason if you miss the Clisson excursion or just want to go back, know that the train is definitely a reliable option. Aside from the gorgeous little town, we went wine tasting at a vineyard slightly outside of town center. Muscadet is a famous wine from the region, so having a chance to taste that on a beautiful day was one of the highlights of my semester.

At the beginning of the semester, I was tasked with creating a presentation on a topic of my choosing for French class. In an effort to get to know the area better, I decided to present on the towns around Nantes that people could take potential day trips to. Out of the ten or so towns I put in my presentation, two really stuck out to me: Guérande and Pornic.

Guérande is a small town with a cute medieval center about an hour train ride and twenty minute bus ride from Nantes. It has a medieval historic center with lots of cute little shops, but it is most famous for being the producers of one of France’s most famous salts: the fleur de sel de Guérande. You can walk into any French person’s home in Nantes and you will see a box or a bag of this delicious salt.

My friends and I spent the first part of the day in the town center, perusing the farmer’s market and buying way too much caramel au beurre salé. After lunch, three of us including me walked the 30 minutes down to the Marais Salants, a marsh area where humans still produce this salt by hand  to this day. While we did not see anyone doing this in action, we did get a chance to stop at Les Terres de Sel, a salt museum, to buy some of this delicious salt. It was a great day!

At the very end of the semester, after all of our finals were done, my friends and I decided to catch a train and spend the night in Pornic, another one of the towns I researched. Pornic is on the Jade Coast, just south of Nantes by an hour long train, and it is one of the cutest little beach towns I’ve ever seen. Pornic is famous for two things: strawberry ice cream and a Chateau that is referenced in the legend Barbe Bleu, a French fairytale used to scare children.

We spent our one night in Pornic enjoying each other’s company before we all left, eating strawberry ice cream, and walking around the town. It was a lovely way to encapsulate our experience in Nantes. I felt a wave of sadness that night, knowing that I’ll miss these people and this place greatly.

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Grace Heaton

Hi! My name is Grace Heaton. I am thrilled to be studying abroad in Nantes in Spring 2024. I am a junior at Duquesne in Pittsburgh, PA studying Marketing, French, and German. I enjoy traveling, learning languages, and adventuring with friends.

Home University:
Duquesne University
Portland, OR
French Language
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