Why does the duchy of Brittany begin in Nantes?
That’s a good question and the best way to find out is to go there! Here is everything you need to know to make the most of your visit to the castle;
Chateau Des Ducs De Bretagne
This is where you will the city’s history museum! It has 2 tours you can take to cover 7 time periods. If you want to do both tours plan at least 2-3 hours for each and try to do the tour on different days! After climbing stairs and wandering from room to room, you will need a refreshment!
- One tour is focused on Nantes medieval history, and explains the importance of Anne of Brittany who was Queen of France… twice! It’s a great way to see how her and her father influenced the region and became key figures in France History!
- The other is Nantes in modern history. It includes their role in the last two world wars. We opted for the other tour this time around but we did run across these rooms and they look interesting!
Across the courtyard is where you will find the Refugees Heirlooms exhibit, on loan from the Byzantine and Christian Museum in Athens.
- The focus of the Icônes exhibit is to tell the story behind the precious objects brought by Greek and Asian Minor migrants. The story even includes those crossing the border into France over the years and those who were forced out because they were French Protestants (Huguenots) from the 16th through the 17th century. Read more about the history of the Huguenots.
- In support of the Icônes Exhibit and the Le Voyage à Nantes, Kalliopi Lemos presents Pledges. An exhibit of the hopes and prayers immigrants have left at churches on their way to a new life. View a short video on the making of the Pledges exhibit.
Make sure to view the opening hours and closed for holidays for the city museum on their Practical Information page for visitors and note that their ‘How to Access page‘ instructs you to plan on not bringing bags or accessories as storage lockers are currently not available.
Psst! You can walk the wall and the courtyard for free if you are short on time. There are several bits of history and a photography exhibit on a balcony overlooking the courtyard. You can bring a packed lunch up here and take a moment before finishing your walk along the wall or head to the tower for a quick trip back down. If this is not available for some reason, plenty of people will lay out a blanket along the grassy moat surrounding the castle.
Things to do near the Chateau
- Nearby you will see The Water Mirror! It’s a refreshing place to hang out and enjoy the jets spraying mist… we had a full day ahead so I didn’t want to tempt the kids and later face complaints about wet clothes. No harm done if this is the last stop in the day! 😉
- Let me save you some time. The biscuit factory is a lie. I’m not going to bother to name it properly. It’s pretty to look at from the Chateau ramparts but not worth seeing unless you want to take your family to a bar… It’s where they used to make the first biscuits. If you were excited about the idea of visiting a biscuit factory, see my suggestion in the last section!
- Okay. I changed my mind. It’s called the Le Lieu Unique and besides featuring a bar you can head up to the tower for a view of the city… because the tower is an iconic symbol of Nantes Industrial spirit. For 20 Euros you can view the contemporary art exhibit. I hear there is a tour across the street but I have no clue because nobody knew what I was talking about when I asked about a biscuit tour… you know the iconic symbol of a revitalized Nantes that was one of the turning points in the economy.
- On the way back across we missed seeing Nymphea due to a child wandering off. I got a little worked up about it and was to angry to remember. From The Water Mirror head to the bridge. Instead of going over the bridge, take a right and go under to see the Nymphea.
- The Cathedrale de Saint-Pierre et Saint-Paul is taller than the Notre-Dame in Paris! The most notable feature besides it’s architecture is that the 11th century cathedral crypts are accessible and contains an exhibit on it’s history. On TripAdvisor it is listed as one of the top five places to visit in Nantes.
- In front of Cathedrale de Saint-Pierre et Saint-Paul is where you can grab the Le Petit Train that will take you around Nantes. It generally follows the Le Voyage à Nantes, a green line that gives a 10 mile self guided tour of Nantes, and is a great way to get off your feet for about 35 minutes!
While Nantes is now a vital part of the Loire-Atlantic, any excursion to see Brittany as a whole must begin at the Dutchy of Bretagne. Otherwise see the other main attraction in Nantes, the Isle of Machines.