Nantes—France’s sixth largest city—has all the amenities of a big city: world-class museums, breathtaking cathedrals, a great public transportation system, and even its own château. But the best thing about Nantes? It’s small enough to feel like home. Before long, you’re blending in with local residents and university students, and saying “bonjour” to the shop keepers you pass on your way to class every day. Immerse yourself in French language and culture in this livable, accessible, and exciting city, which was the official EU 2013 Green Capital. It’s something to celebrate.
With a population of approximately 600,000, Nantes is the largest city in Brittany (6th largest in France) and a vibrant, lively place in which to live. Its location near the Atlantic coast at the mouth of the Loire River helped this long prosperous seaport to become the thriving commercial and technological center that it is today.
Once the capital of the Duchy of Brittany, Nantes has held onto its Breton roots, as evidenced in the many shops and crêperies found throughout the city.
Nantes' fine arts museum houses a wide variety of collections, dating from the 12th century through the modern era. With works from renowned artists like Courbet, Delacroix, Monet, Picasso and Rousseau, the museum serves as a great field study destination for IES Abroad art history courses. The collection of French modern and contemporary works are a favorite, especially those from 1950-1960.
An architectural delight and a shopper's must, this narrow passageway of galleries fills three levels and is covered by a canopied glass ceiling. Located between two streets in central Nantes, the Passage Pommeraye was listed as a historical monument in 1973.
"The Passage Pommeraye was beautiful during the Christmas season." -Aja Robinson, Elmhurst College
Built in stages between 1434 and 1891, the Cathedral is famous for the elevation of its nave and the tomb of Francois II. This great masterpiece of the Renaissance carries a wealth of history as well as aesthetic pleasure. Although recently restored, the cathedral survived WWII bombings as well as a fire in 1972. The remaining stained glass window is still the largest in France.
Constructed by local architect Mathurin Crucy in 1791, Cours Cambronne is a public square and garden famous for its statue of Pierre Jacques Étienne Cambronne, general during the French Revolution.
What is it really like to live in Nantes? Check out our virtual tour of all the places you’ll come to know and love when you study abroad there—GO!