1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers
> 1 km2 (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river
2 Population without double counting: residents of multiple communes
(e.g., students and military personnel) only counted once.
Nantes ([nɑ̃t] ( listen)) (Gallo: Naunnt or Nantt
(pronounced [nɑ̃t] or [nɑ̃ːt]); Breton: Naoned
(pronounced [ˈnɑ̃wnət])) is a city in western
Loire River, 50 km (31 mi) from the Atlantic coast. The
city is the sixth-largest in France, with a population of nearly
Nantes and an urban area of 600,000 inhabitants. With
Saint-Nazaire, a seaport on the
Nantes forms the main
north-western French metropolis.
It is the administrative seat of the
Loire-Atlantique département and
the Pays de la
Loire région, one of 18 regions of France. Nantes
belongs historically and culturally to Brittany, a former duchy and
province, and its omission from the modern
Brittany région is
Nantes was identified during classical antiquity as a port on the
Loire. It was the seat of a bishopric at the end of the Roman era
before it was conquered by the
Bretons in 851. Although
Nantes was the
primary residence of the 15th-century dukes of Brittany,
the provincial capital after the 1532 union of
Brittany and France.
During the 17th century, after the establishment of the French
Nantes gradually became the largest port in France
and was responsible for nearly half of the 18th-century French
Atlantic slave trade. The
French Revolution resulted in an economic
Nantes developed robust industries after 1850 (chiefly in
shipbuilding and food processing).
Deindustrialisation in the second
half of the 20th century spurred the city to adopt a service economy.
In 2012, the
Globalization and World Cities Research Network
Globalization and World Cities Research Network ranked
Nantes as a Gamma world city. It is the fourth-highest-ranking city in
France, after Paris,
Lyon and Marseilles. The Gamma category includes
cities such as Algiers, Orlando, Porto,
Turin and Leipzig. Nantes
has been praised for its quality of life, and it received the European
Green Capital Award in 2013. The
European Commission noted the
city's efforts to reduce air pollution and CO2 emissions, its
high-quality and well-managed public transport system and its
biodiversity, with 3,366 hectares (8,320 acres) of green space and
Natura 2000 areas.
1.1 Modern pronunciation and nicknames
2.1 Prehistory and antiquity
2.2 Middle Ages
2.3 Modern era
2.4 French Revolution
2.6 Land reclamation
3.5 Urban layout
3.6 Parks and environment
4.1 Local government
Nantes and Brittany
5.1 Ethnicity, religions and languages
8.3 Events and festivals
8.4 In the arts
Nantes Public Transportation Statistics
13 Notable residents
14 See also
17 External links
The confluence of the
Erdre and the
Nantes was founded)
in an 1890s photochrom. The river channels in the picture were
diverted and filled in during the 1920s and subsequently replaced with
Nantes is named after an ancient Gaulish people, the Namnetes, who
established a settlement between the end of the second century and the
beginning of the first century BC on the north bank of the
its confluence with the Erdre. The origin of the name "Namnetes" is
uncertain, but is thought to come from the Gaulish root *nant- (river
or stream, from the pre-Celtic root *nanto, valley) or from
Amnites, another tribal name possibly meaning "men of the river".
Its first recorded name was by the Greek poet Ptolemy, who referred to
the settlement as Κονδηούινϰον (Kondēoúinkon) and
Κονδιούινϰον (Kondioúinkon)[A]—which might be read
as Κονδηούιϰον (Kondēoúikon)—in his treatise,
Geography. The name was latinised during the Gallo-Roman period as
Condevincum (the most common form), Condevicnum, Condivicnum and
Condivincum. Although its origins are unclear, "Condevincum" seems
to be related to the Gaulish word condate (confluence).
The Namnete root of the city's name was introduced at the end of the
Roman period, when it became known as Portus Namnetum (port of the
Namnetes) and civitas Namnetum (city of the Namnetes). Like
other cities in the region (including Paris), its name was replaced
during the fourth century with a Gaulish one; Lutecia became Paris
(city of the Parisii), and Darioritum became
Vannes (city of the
Veneti). Nantes' name continued to evolve, becoming Nanetiæ and
Namnetis during the fifth century and
Nantes after the sixth via
syncope (suppression of the middle syllable).
Modern pronunciation and nicknames
"Nantes" is pronounced [nɑ̃t], and the city's inhabitants are known
as Nantais ([nɑ̃tɛ]). In Gallo, the oïl language traditionally
spoken in the region around Nantes, the city is spelled "Naunnt" or
"Nantt". Gallo pronunciation is identical to French, although northern
speakers use a long [ɑ̃]. In Breton,
Nantes is known as Naoned or
An Naoned. The latter (meaning "the Nantes") is less common and
reflects the more-frequent use of articles in Breton toponyms than in
Nantes' historical nickname was "Venice of the West" (French: La
Venise de l'Ouest), a reference to the many quays and river channels
in the old town before they were filled in during the 1920s and
1930s. The city is commonly known as la Cité des Ducs ("city of
the dukes" [of Brittany]) for its castle and former role as a
residence of the dukes of Brittany.
See also: Timeline of Nantes
Prehistory and antiquity
Section of the Roman city wall
The first inhabitants of what is now
Nantes settled during the Bronze
Age, later than in the surrounding regions (which have Neolithic
monuments absent from Nantes). Its first inhabitants were apparently
attracted by small iron and tin deposits in the region's subsoil.
The area exported tin, mined in
Abbaretz and Piriac, as far as
Ireland. After about 1,000 years of trading, local industry
appeared around 900 BC; remnants of smithies dated to the eighth and
seventh centuries BC have been found in the city.
Nantes may have
been the major Gaulish settlement of Corbilo, on the
which was mentioned by the Greek historians
Strabo and Polybius.
Its history from the seventh century to the Roman conquest in the
first century BC is poorly documented, and there is no evidence of a
city in the area before the reign of
Tiberius in the first century
AD. During the Gaulish period it was the capital of the Namnetes
people, who were allied with the Veneti in a territory extending
to the northern bank of the Loire. Rivals in the area included the
Pictones, who controlled the area south of the
Loire in the city of
Ratiatum (present-day Rezé) until the end of the second century AD.
Ratiatum, founded under Augustus, developed more quickly than Nantes
and was a major port in the region.
Nantes began to grow when Ratiatum
collapsed after the Germanic invasions.
Because tradesmen favoured inland roads rather than Atlantic
Nantes never became a large city under Roman occupation.
Although it lacked amenities such as a theatre or an amphitheatre, the
city had sewers, public baths and a temple dedicated to Mars
Mullo. After an attack by German tribes in 275, Nantes'
inhabitants built a wall; this defense also became common in
surrounding Gaulish towns. The wall in Nantes, enclosing 16
hectares (40 acres), was one of the largest in Gaul.
Christianity was introduced during the third century. The first local
martyrs (Donatian and Rogatian) were executed in 288-290, and a
cathedral was built during the fourth century.
Nantes Cathedral, rebuilt in the
Gothic style beginning in the 15th
Like much of the region,
Nantes was part of the
Roman Empire during
the early Middle Ages. Although many parts of
significant Breton immigration (loosening ties to Rome), Nantes
remained allied with the empire until its collapse in the fifth
century. With eastern Brittany, it passed to the Germanic Franks
around 490 and was a Frankish stronghold against the Bretons. Under
Charlemagne in the eighth century the town was the capital of the
Breton March, a buffer zone protecting the
Carolingian Empire from
Breton invasion. The first governor of the Breton March was Roland,
whose feats were mythologized in the body of literature known as the
Matter of France. After Charlemagne's death in 814, Breton armies
invaded the March and fought the Franks.
Nominoe (a Breton) became the
first duke of Brittany, seizing
Nantes in 850. Discord marked the
first decades of Breton rule in
Nantes as Breton lords fought among
themselves, making the city vulnerable to
Viking incursions. The most
Viking attack in
Nantes occurred in 843, when Viking
warriors killed the bishop but did not settle in the city at that
Nantes became part of the
Viking realm in 919, but the Norse
were expelled from the town in 937 by Alan II, Duke of Brittany.
Feudalism took hold in
France during the 10th and 11th centuries, and
Nantes was the seat of a county founded in the ninth century. Until
the beginning of the 13th century, it was the subject of succession
crises which saw the town pass several times from the Dukes of
Brittany to the counts of
Anjou (of the House of Plantagenet).
During the 14th century,
Brittany experienced a war of succession
which ended with the accession of the House of Montfort to the ducal
throne. The Montforts, seeking emancipation from the suzerainty of the
French kings, reinforced Breton institutions. They chose Nantes, the
largest town in
Brittany (with a population of over 10,000), as their
main residence and made it the home of their council, their treasury
and their chancery. Port traffic, insignificant during the
Middle Ages, became the city's main activity.
Nantes began to
trade with foreign countries, exporting salt from Bourgneuf, wine,
fabrics and hemp (usually to the British Isles). The 15th century
is considered Nantes' first golden age. The reign of Francis
II saw many improvements to a city in dire need of repair after the
wars of succession and a series of storms and fires between 1387 and
1415. Many buildings were built or rebuilt (including the cathedral
and the castle), and the University of Nantes—the first in
Brittany—was founded in 1460.
Typical 18th-century façades in Nantes
Cours Cambronne, a terrace developed at the end of the 18th century
The marriage of Anne of
Brittany to Charles VIII of
France in 1491
began the unification of
Brittany which was ratified by
Francis I of
France in 1532. The union ended a long feudal conflict
France and Brittany, reasserting the king's suzerainty over
the Bretons. In return for surrendering its independence, Brittany
retained its privileges. Although most Breton institutions were
maintained, the unification favoured
Rennes (the site of ducal
Rennes received most legal and administrative
Nantes kept a financial role with its Chamber of
Accounts. At the end of the French Wars of Religion, the Edict of
Protestantism in France) was signed in the town.
However, the edict did not reflect local opinion in the Catholic
League stronghold. The local Protestant community did not number more
than 1,000, and
Nantes was one of the last places to resist the
authority of Protestant-raised Henry IV. The edict was signed after
the capitulation of the Duke of Mercœur, governor of Brittany.
Coastal navigation and the export of locally-produced goods (salt,
wine and fabrics) dominated the local economy around 1600. During
the mid-17th century, the siltation of local salterns and a fall in
wine exports compelled
Nantes to find other activities. Local
shipowners began importing sugar from the French West Indies
Guadeloupe and Saint-Domingue) in the 1640s, which became
very profitable after protectionist reforms implemented by
Jean-Baptiste Colbert prevented the import of sugar from Spanish
colonies (which had dominated the market). In 1664
France's eighth-largest port, and it was the largest by 1700.
Plantations in the colonies needed labour to produce sugar, rum,
tobacco, indigo dye, coffee and cocoa, and
Nantes shipowners began
trading African slaves in 1706. The port was part of the
triangular trade: ships went to
West Africa to buy slaves, slaves were
sold in the French West Indies, and the ships returned to
sugar and other exotic goods. From 1707 to 1793,
responsible for 42 percent of the French slave trade; its merchants
sold about 450,000 African slaves in the West Indies.
Manufactured goods were more lucrative than raw materials during the
18th century. There were about fifteen sugar refineries in the city
around 1750 and nine cotton mills in 1786.
Nantes and its
surrounding area were the main producers of French printed cotton
fabric during the 18th century, and the
Netherlands was the city's
largest client for exotic goods. Although trade brought wealth to
Nantes, the city was confined by its walls; their removal during the
18th century allowed it to expand. Neoclassical squares and public
buildings were constructed, and wealthy merchants built sumptuous
Painting of the 1793–1794 Drownings at Nantes
French Revolution initially received some support in Nantes, a
bourgeois city rooted in private enterprise. On 18 July 1789, locals
seized the Castle of the Dukes of
Brittany in an imitation of the
storming of the Bastille. Rural western France, Catholic and
conservative, strongly opposed the abolition of the monarchy and the
submission of the clergy. A rebellion in the neighbouring Vendée
began in 1793, quickly spreading to surrounding regions.
Nantes was an
important Republican garrison on the
Loire en route to England. On 29
June 1793, 30,000 Royalist troops from
Vendée attacked the city on
their way to
Normandy (where they hoped to receive British support).
Twelve thousand Republican soldiers resisted and the Battle of Nantes
resulted in the death of Royalist leader Jacques Cathelineau.
Three years later another Royalist leader, François de Charette, was
executed in Nantes.
After the Battle of Nantes, the
National Convention (which had founded
the First French Republic) decided to purge the city of its
Nantes was seen by the convention as a
corrupt merchant city; the local elite was less supportive of the
French Revolution, since its growing centralisation reduced their
influence. From October 1793 to February 1794, deputy
Jean-Baptiste Carrier presided over a revolutionary tribunal notorious
for cruelty and ruthlessness. Between 12,000 and 13,000 people
(including women and children) were arrested, and 8,000 to 11,000 died
of typhus or were executed by the guillotine, shooting or drowning.
Drownings at Nantes
Drownings at Nantes were intended to kill large numbers of people
simultaneously, and Carrier called the
Loire "the national
French Revolution was disastrous for the local economy. The slave
trade nearly disappeared because of the abolition of slavery and the
independence of Saint-Domingue, and Napoleon's Continental Blockade
decimated trade with other European countries.
Nantes never fully
recovered its 18th-century wealth; the port handled 43,242 tons of
goods in 1807, down from 237,716 tons in 1790.
The port of
Nantes in 1912, with the demolished transporter bridge in
Outlawed by the French Revolution, the slave trade re-established
itself as Nantes' major source of income in the first decades of the
19th century. It was the last French port to conduct the illegal
Atlantic trade, continuing it until about 1827. The 19th-century
slave trade may have been as extensive as that of the previous
century, with about 400,000 slaves deported to the colonies.
Businessmen took advantage of local vegetable production and Breton
fishing to develop a canning industry during the 1820s, but
canning was eclipsed by sugar imported from
Réunion in the 1840s and
Nantes tradesmen received a tax rebate on
Réunion sugar, which
was lucrative until disease devastated the cane plantations in
1863. By the mid-19th century,
Le Havre and
Marseilles were the
two main French ports; the former traded with
America and the latter
with Asia. They had embraced the Industrial Revolution, thanks to
Nantes lagged behind, struggling to find
profitable activities. Nostalgic for the pre-revolutionary golden age,
the local elite had been suspicious of political and technological
progress during the first half of the 19th century. In 1851, after
much debate and opposition,
Nantes was connected to
Paris by the
Nantes became a major industrial city during the second half of the
19th century with the aid of several families who invested in
successful businesses. In 1900, the city's two main industries were
food processing and shipbuilding. The former, primarily the canning
industry, included the biscuit manufacturer LU and the latter was
represented by three shipyards which were among the largest in France.
These industries helped maintain port activity and facilitated
agriculture, sugar imports, fertilizer production, machinery and
metallurgy, which employed 12,000 people in
Nantes and its surrounding
area in 1914. Because large, modern ships had increased difficulty
Loire to reach Nantes, a new port in
been established at the mouth of the estuary in 1835. Saint-Nazaire,
primarily developed for goods to be transhipped before being sent to
Nantes, also built rival shipyards.
port traffic for the first time in 1868. Reacting to the growth of
the rival port,
Nantes built a 15 kilometres (9.3 miles)-long canal
parallel to the
Loire to remain accessible to large ships. The canal,
completed in 1892, was abandoned in 1910 because of the efficient
dredging of the
Loire between 1903 and 1914.
Nantes in the first half of the 20th century. Waterways filled
in from 1926 to 1946 are in brown, and buildings destroyed by American
air raids in 1943 are in red.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the river channels flowing
Nantes were increasingly perceived as hampering the city's
comfort and economic development. Sand siltation required dredging,
which weakened the quays; one quay collapsed in 1924. Embankments were
overcrowded with railways, roads and tramways. Between 1926 and 1946,
most of the channels were filled in and their water diverted. Large
thoroughfares replaced the channels, altering the urban landscape.
Feydeau and Gloriette Islands in the old town were attached to the
north bank, and the other islands in the
Loire were formed into the
Isle of Nantes.
When the land reclamation was almost complete,
Nantes was shaken by
the air raids of the Second World War. The city was captured by Nazi
Germany on 18 June 1940, during the Battle of France. Forty-eight
civilians were executed in
Nantes in 1941 in retaliation for the
assassination of German officer Fritz Hotz. They are remembered as
"the 50 hostages" because the Germans initially planned to kill 50
people. British bombs first hit the city in August 1941 and May
1942. The main attacks occurred on 16 and 23 September 1943, when most
of Nantes' industrial facilities and portions of the city centre and
its surrounding area were destroyed by American bombs. About
20,000 people were left homeless by the 1943 raids, and 70,000
subsequently left the city. Allied raids killed 1,732 people and
destroyed 2,000 buildings in Nantes, leaving a further 6,000 buildings
unusable. The Germans abandoned the city on 12 August 1944, and it
was recaptured without a fight by the French Forces of the Interior
and the U.S. Army.
The postwar years were a period of strikes and protests in Nantes. A
strike organised by the city's 17,500 metallurgists during the summer
of 1955 to protest salary disparities between
Paris and the rest of
France deeply impacted the French political scene, and their action
was echoed in other cities.
Nantes saw other large strikes and
demonstrations during the May 1968 events, when marches drew about
20,000 people into the streets. The 1970s global recession brought
a large wave of deindustrialisation to France, and
Nantes saw the
closure of many factories and the city's shipyards. The 1970s and
1980s were primarily a period of economic stagnation for Nantes.
During the 1980s and 1990s its economy became service-oriented and it
experienced economic growth under Jean-Marc Ayrault, the city's mayor
from 1989 to 2012. Under Ayrault's administration,
Nantes used its
quality of life to attract service firms. The city developed a rich
cultural life, advertising itself as a creative place near the ocean.
Institutions and facilities (such as its airport) were re-branded as
Nantes Atlantique" to highlight this proximity. Local authorities
have commemorated the legacy of the slave trade, promoting dialogue
with other cultures.
Nantes as seen by SPOT in 2004
Nantes is in north-western France, near the
Atlantic Ocean and 342
kilometres (213 miles) south-west of Paris. Bordeaux, the other major
metropolis of western France, is 274 kilometres (170 miles) south.
Bordeaux share positions at the mouth of an estuary, and
Nantes is on the
The city is at a natural crossroads between the ocean in the west, the
France (towards Orléans) in the east,
Brittany in the north
Vendée (on the way to Bordeaux) in the south. It is an
architectural junction; northern French houses with slate roofs are
north of the Loire, and Mediterranean dwellings with low terracotta
roofs dominate the south bank. The
Loire is also the northern
limit of grape culture. Land north of
Nantes is dominated by bocage
and dedicated to polyculture and animal husbandry, and the south is
renowned for its
Muscadet vineyards and market gardens. The city
is near the geographical centre of the land hemisphere, identified in
1945 by Samuel Boggs as near the main railway station (around
47°13′N 1°32′W / 47.217°N 1.533°W / 47.217;
Erdre (a tributary of the Loire), with the
Brittany Tower in the
Loire is about 1,000 kilometres (620 miles) long and its estuary,
beginning in Nantes, is 60 kilometres (37 miles) in length. The
river's bed and banks have changed considerably over a period of
Loire had divided into a number of channels,
creating a dozen islands and sand ridges. They facilitated crossing
the river, contributing to the city's growth. Most of the islands were
protected with levees during the modern era, and they disappeared in
the 1920s and 1930s when the smallest waterways were filled in. The
Nantes now has only two branches, one on either side of the
Isle of Nantes.
The river is tidal in the city, and tides are observed about 30
kilometres (19 miles) further east. The tidal range can reach 6
metres (20 feet) in Nantes, larger than at the mouth of the
estuary. This is the result of 20th-century dredging to make
Nantes accessible by large ships; tides were originally much weaker.
Nantes was at the point where the river current and the tides
cancelled each other out, resulting in siltation and the formation of
the original islands.
The city is at the confluence of two tributaries. The
Erdre flows into
Loire from its north bank, and the
Sèvre Nantaise flows into the
Loire from its south bank. These two rivers initially provided natural
links with the hinterland. When the channels of the
Loire were filled,
Erdre was diverted in central
Nantes and its confluence with the
Loire was moved further east. The
Erdre includes Versailles Island,
which became a Japanese garden during the 1980s. It was created in the
19th century with fill from construction of the Nantes-Brest
Elevation and hydrology map of Nantes
Nantes is built on the Armorican Massif, a range of weathered
mountains which may be considered the backbone of Brittany. The
mountains, stretching from the end of the Breton peninsula to the
outskirts of the sedimentary
Paris Basin, are composed of several
parallel ridges of
Ordovician and Cadomian rocks.
Nantes is where one
of these ridges, the Sillon de Bretagne, meets the Loire. It passes
through the western end of the old town, forming a series of cliffs
above the quays. The end of the ridge, the Butte Sainte-Anne, is a
natural landmark 38 metres (125 feet) above sea level; its foothills
are at an elevation of 15 metres (49 feet).
The Sillon de Bretagne is composed of granite; the rest of the region
is a series of low plateaus covered with silt and clay, with mica
schist and sediments found in lower areas. Much of the old town and
all of the Isle of
Nantes consist of backfill. Elevations in
Nantes are generally higher in the western neighbourhoods on the
Sillon, reaching 52 metres (171 feet) in the north-west. The Erdre
flows through a slate fault. Eastern
Nantes is flatter, with a few
hills reaching 30 metres (98 feet). The city's lowest points,
along the Loire, are 2 metres (6 feet 7 inches) above sea
Nantes has a Western European oceanic climate influenced by its
proximity to the Atlantic Ocean. West winds produced by cyclonic
depressions in the Atlantic dominate, and north and north-west winds
are also common. Slight variations in elevation make fog common in
valleys, and slopes oriented south and south-west have good
insolation. Winters are usually mild and rainy, with an average
temperature of 5 °C (41 °F); snow is rare. Summers are
moderately warm, with an average temperature of 18.5 °C
(65.3 °F). Rain is abundant through the year, with an annual
average of 820 millimetres (32 inches). The climate in
suitable for growing a variety of plants, from temperate vegetables to
exotic trees and flowers imported during the colonial era.
Climate data for Nantes, Loire-Atlantique, France
Record high °C (°F)
Average high °C (°F)
Daily mean °C (°F)
Average low °C (°F)
Record low °C (°F)
Average precipitation mm (inches)
Average precipitation days
Average snowy days
Average relative humidity (%)
Mean monthly sunshine hours
Source #1: Meteo France"Données climatiques de la station de Nantes"
(in French). Meteo France. Retrieved 10 December 2014. "Climat
Pays de la Loire" (in French). Meteo France. Retrieved 10 December
Source #2: Infoclimat.fr (humidity, snowy days 1961–1990) "Normes et
records 1961–1990: Nantes-Atlantique (44) – altitude 26 metres (85
feet)" (in French). Infoclimat. Retrieved 10 December 2014.
Boulevard de Launay, west of the city centre
Nantes' layout is typical of French towns and cities. It has a
historical centre with old monuments, administrative buildings and
small shops, surrounded by 19th-century faubourgs surrounded by newer
suburban houses and public housing. The city centre has a medieval
core (corresponding to the former walled town) and 18th-century
extensions running west and east. The northern extension, Marchix, was
considered squalid and nearly disappeared during the 20th century. The
old town did not extend south before the 19th century, since it would
have meant building on the unsteady islands in the Loire.
The medieval core has narrow streets and a mixture of half-timbered
buildings, more recent sandstone buildings, post-World War II
reconstruction and modern redevelopment. It is primarily a student
neighbourhood, with many bars and small shops. The eastern extension
Nantes Cathedral) was traditionally inhabited by the
aristocracy, and the larger western extension along the
built for the bourgeoisie. It is Nantes' most-expensive area, with
wide avenues, squares and hôtels particuliers. The area was
extended towards the Parc de Procé during the 19th century. The other
faubourgs were built along the main boulevards and the plateaus,
turning the valleys into parks. Outside central
villages, including Chantenay, Doulon, L'Eraudière and
Saint-Joseph-de-Porterie, were absorbed by urbanisation.
Port-Boyer and the Erdre
After World War II, several housing projects were built to accommodate
Nantes' growing population. The oldest, Les Dervallières, was
developed in 1956 and was followed by Bellevue in 1959 and Le Breil
and Malakoff in 1971. Once areas of poverty, they are experiencing
regeneration since the 2000s. The northern outskirts of the city,
along the Erdre, include the main campus of the University of Nantes
and other institutes of higher education. During the second half of
the 20th century,
Nantes expanded south into the communes of Rezé,
Vertou and Saint-Sébastien-sur-
Loire (across the
Loire but near the
city centre) and north-bank communes including Saint-Herblain, Orvault
The 4.6-square-kilometre (1.8 sq mi) Isle of
divided between former shipyards on the west, an old faubourg in its
centre and modern housing estates on the east. Since the 2000s, it has
been subject to the conversion of former industrial areas into office
space, housing and leisure facilities. Local authorities intend to
make it an extension of the city centre. Further development is also
planned on the north bank along an axis linking the train station and
Parks and environment
A 19th-century greenhouse in the Jardin des Plantes
Nantes has 100 public parks, gardens and squares covering 218 hectares
(540 acres). The oldest is the Jardin des Plantes, a botanical
garden created in 1807. It has a large collection of exotic plants,
including a 200-year-old
Magnolia grandiflora and the national
collection of camellia. Other large parks include the Parc de
Procé, Parc du Grand Blottereau and Parc de la Gaudinière, the
former gardens of country houses built outside the old town. Natural
areas, an additional 180 hectares (440 acres), include the Petite
Natura 2000 protected forest) and several woods, meadows
and marshes. Green space (public and private) makes up 41 percent of
The city adopted an ecological framework in 2007 to reduce greenhouse
gases and promote energy transition.
Nantes has three ecodistricts
(one on the Isle of Nantes, one near the train station and the third
in the north-east of the city), which aim to provide affordable,
ecological housing and counter urban sprawl by redeveloping neglected
areas of the city.
Further information: List of mayors of Nantes
Johanna Rolland, mayor of
Nantes since 2014
Nantes is the préfecture (capital city) of the Loire-Atlantique
département and the Pays de la
Loire région. It is the residence of
a région and département prefect, local representatives of the
Nantes is also the meeting place of the région and
département councils, two elected political bodies.
The city is administered by a mayor and a council, elected every six
years. The council has 65 councillors. It originated in 1410, when
John V, Duke of
Brittany created the Burghers' Council. The assembly
was controlled by wealthy merchants and the Lord Lieutenant. After the
Brittany and France, the burghers petitioned the French king
to give them a city council which would enhance their freedom; their
request was granted by Francis II in 1559. The new council had a
mayor, ten aldermen and a crown prosecutor. The first council was
elected in 1565 with Nantes' first mayor, Geoffroy Drouet. The
present city council is a result of the
French Revolution and a 4
December 1789 act. The current mayor of
Nantes is Johanna Rolland
(Socialist Party), who was elected on 4 April 2014. The party has held
a majority since 1983, and
Nantes has become a left-wing
Nantes has been divided into 11 neighbourhoods (quartiers),
each with an advisory committee and administrative agents.
City-council members are appointed to each quartier to consult with
the local committees. The neighbourhood committees, existing primarily
to facilitate dialogue between citizens and the local government, meet
twice a year.
Like most French municipalities,
Nantes is part of an intercommunal
structure which combines the city with 24 smaller, neighbouring
Nantes Métropole, it encompasses the city's
metropolitan area and had a population of 609,198 in 2013. Nantes
Métropole administers urban planning, transport, public areas, waste
disposal, energy, water, housing, higher education, economic
development, employment and European topics. As a consequence,
the city council's mandates are security, primary and secondary
education, early childhood, social aid, culture, sport and
Nantes Métropole, created in 1999, is administered by a
council consisting of the 97 members of the local municipal councils.
According to an act passed in 2014, beginning in 2020 the metropolitan
council will be elected by the citizens of
Nantes Métropole. The
council is currently overseen by Rolland.
Nantes' coat of arms
Local authorities began using official symbols in the 14th century,
when the provost commissioned a seal on which the Duke of Brittany
stood on a boat and protected
Nantes with his sword. The present coat
of arms was first used in 1514; its ermines symbolise Brittany, and
its green waves suggest the Loire.
Nantes' coat of arms had ducal emblems before the French Revolution:
the belt cord of the Order of the Cord (founded by Anne of Brittany)
and the city's coronet. The coronet was replaced by a mural crown
during the 18th century, and during the revolution a new emblem with a
statue of Liberty replaced the coat of arms. During Napoleon's rule
the coat of arms returned, with bees (a symbol of his empire) added to
the chief. The original coat of arms was readopted in 1816, and the
Liberation Cross and the 1939–45 War Cross were added in 1948.
Before the revolution, Nantes' motto was "Oculi omnium in te sperant,
Domine" ("The eyes of all wait upon thee, O Lord", a line from a
grace). It disappeared during the revolution, and the city adopted its
current motto—"Favet Neptunus eunti" ("Neptune favours the
traveller")—in 1816. Nantes' flag is derived from the naval
jack flown by Breton vessels before the French Revolution. The flag
has a white cross on a black one; its quarters have Breton ermines
except for the upper left, which has the city's coat of arms. The
black and white crosses are historic symbols of
Brittany and France,
Nantes and Brittany
The arms of the dukes of
Brittany in the Castle of the Dukes of
Nantes and the
Loire-Atlantique département were part of the historic
province of Brittany, and the city and
Rennes were its traditional
capitals. In the 1789 replacement of the historic provinces of France,
Brittany was divided among five départements. The administrative
Brittany did not exist during the 19th and early 20th
centuries, although its cultural heritage remained.
Rennes are in Upper
Brittany (the Romance-speaking part of the
region), and Lower
Brittany in the west is traditionally
Breton-speaking and more Celtic in culture. As a large port whose
outskirts encompassed other provinces,
Nantes has been Brittany's
economic capital and a cultural crossroads. Breton culture in Nantes
is not necessarily characteristic of Lower Brittany's, although the
city experienced substantial Lower Breton immigration during the 19th
In the mid-20th century, several French governments considered
creating a new level of local government by combining départements
into larger regions. The regions, established by acts of
parliament in 1955 and 1972, loosely follow the pre-revolutionary
Brittany was revived as Region Brittany.
Nantes and the
Loire-Atlantique département were not included, because each new
region centred on one metropolis. Region
Brittany was created
around Rennes, similar in size to Nantes; the Loire-Atlantique
département formed a new region with four other départements, mainly
portions of the old provinces of Anjou, Maine and Poitou. The new
region was called Pays de la
Loire Countries") although it
does not include most of the
Loire Valley. It has often been said that
the separation of
Nantes from the rest of
Brittany was decided by
France during the Second World War.
Philippe Pétain created a
Nantes in 1941, but his region disappeared after
Debate continues about Nantes' place in Brittany, with polls
indicating a large majority in
Loire-Atlantique and throughout the
historic province favouring Breton reunification. In a 2014 poll,
67 percent of Breton people and 77 percent of Loire-Atlantique
residents favoured reunification. Opponents, primarily Pays de la
Loire officials, say that their region could not exist economically
without Nantes. Pays de la
Loire officials favour a union of Brittany
with the Pays de la Loire, but Breton politicians oppose the
incorporation of their region into a Greater West region. Nantes'
city council has acknowledged the fact that the city is culturally
part of Brittany, but its position on reunification is similar to that
of the Pays de la Loire. City officials tend to consider Nantes
an open metropolis with its own personality, independent of
See also: List of twin towns and sister cities in France
Nantes has made nine international sister-city arrangements since
1964. Arrangements have been made with:
Tbilisi, Georgia (1979)
Jacksonville, Florida (1980-1984)
Cluj-Napoca, Romania (1991)
Niigata, Niigata, Japan (1999)
Qingdao, China (2005)
Suncheon, Jeonnam, South Korea (2007)
The city has made agreements with other cities and regions, including
Turin, Liverpool, Hamburg,
Asturias and Quebec. Partnership
agreements have been signed with cities in developing countries,
including Dschang, Cameroon, Grand'Anse,
Haiti and Kindia,
Nantes (in black) surrounded by its urban area
(in red) and metropolitan area (in yellow).
Nantes Métropole is
outlined in black.
Source:Base Cassini from EHESS for figures until 1990
Nantes had 298,029 inhabitants in 2016, the largest population in its
history. Although it was the largest city in
Brittany during the
Middle Ages, it was smaller than three other north-western towns:
Tours and Caen.
Nantes has experienced consistent growth
since the Middle Ages, except during the
French Revolution and the
Napoleon I (when it experienced depopulation, primarily due
to the Continental System). In 1500, the city had a population of
around 14,000. Nantes' population increased to 25,000 in 1600 and
to 80,000 in 1793. In 1800 it was the sixth-largest French city,
Paris (550,000), Lyon, Marseilles,
80,000 to 109,000). Population growth continued through the 19th
century; although other European cities experienced increased growth
due to industrialisation, in
Nantes growth remained at its
Nantes reached the 100,000 mark about 1850,
and 130,000 around 1900. In 1908 it annexed the neighbouring communes
of Doulon and Chantenay, gaining almost 30,000 inhabitants. Population
growth was slower during the 20th century, remaining under 260,000
from the 1960s to the 2000s primarily because urban growth spread to
surrounding communes. Since 2000 the population of
Nantes began to
rise due to redevelopment, and its urban area has continued to
experience population growth. The
Nantes metropolitan area had a
population of 907,995 in 2013, nearly doubling since the 1960s. Its
population is projected to reach one million by 2030, based on the
The population of
Nantes is younger than the national average, with
44.7 percent under age 29 (
France 36.5 percent). People over age 60
account for 18.7 percent of the city's population (
France 24 percent).
Single-person households are 51.9 percent of the total, and 16.8
percent of households are families with children. Young couples
with children tend to move outside the city because of high property
prices, and most newcomers are students (37 percent) and adults moving
for professional reasons (49 percent). Students generally come from
within the region, and working people are often from Paris. In
2013, the unemployment rate was 11.4 percent of the active population
France 10 percent,
Loire-Atlantique 8.5 percent). The poorest
council estates had unemployment rates of 22 to 47 percent. Of
those employed, 57.8 percent are in intermediate or management
positions, 24.2 percent are technicians and 13.1 percent are plant
workers or similar. That year, 43.3 percent of the population over 15
had a higher-education degree and 22.3 percent had no diploma.
Ethnicity, religions and languages
Detail of the spire of St Nicolas Basilica
Nantes has long had ethnic minorities. Spanish, Portuguese and Italian
communities were mentioned during the 16th century, and an Irish
Jacobite community appeared a century later. However, immigration has
always been lower in
Nantes than in other large French cities. The
city's foreign population has been stable since 1990, half the average
for other French cities of similar size.
France does not have
ethnic or religious categories in its census, but counts the number of
people born in a foreign country. In 2013 this category had 24,949
people in Nantes, or 8.5 percent of the total population. The majority
(60.8 percent) were 25 to 54 years old. Their primary countries of
origin were Algeria (13.9 percent), Morocco (11.4 percent) and Tunisia
(5.8 percent). Other African countries accounted for 24.9 percent, the
European Union 15.6 percent, the rest of Europe 4.8 percent and Turkey
Nantes is historically a Catholic city, with a cathedral, two minor
basilicas, about 40 churches and around 20 chapels. Western
traditionally religious, and the Catholic influence on
Nantes was more
persistent than in other large French cities. However, it has
waned since the 1970s because of the rise of atheism and
Nantes is where
Protestantism was permitted
France through its edict, Protestants have always formed a small
minority. The main Protestant church belongs to the United Protestant
Church of France, but the city also has a number of newer Evangelical
and Baptist churches.
Nantes had a small Jewish community during
the Middle Ages, but Jews were expelled from
Brittany in 1240 and
Judaism only reappeared after the French Revolution. The city has one
synagogue, built in 1852. The city had several hundred Muslim
inhabitants during the 1950s, but (as in the rest of France) their
number increased in the second half of the 20th century with the
arrival of large numbers of Africans and Turks. Nantes' first mosque
was built in 1976, with three more built in 2010-2012.
The city is part of the territory of the langues d'oïl, a dialect
continuum which stretches across northern
France and includes standard
French. The local dialect in
Nantes is Gallo, spoken by some in Upper
Brittany. Nantes, as a large city, has been a stronghold of standard
French. A local dialect (parler nantais) is sometimes mentioned by the
press, but its existence is dubious and its vocabulary mainly the
result of rural emigration. As a result of 19th-century Lower
Breton immigration, Breton was once widely spoken in parts of
Nantes signed the charter of the Public Office for the
Breton Language in 2013. Since then, the city has supported its six
bilingual schools and introduced bilingual signage.
Beghin-Say sugar refinery
For centuries, Nantes' economy was linked for centuries to the Loire
and the Atlantic; the city had France's largest harbour in the 18th
century. Food processing predominated during the Industrial Age,
with sugar refineries (Beghin-Say), biscuit factories (LU and BN
Biscuit), canned fish (Saupiquet and Tipiak) and processed vegetables
(Bonduelle and Cassegrain); these brands still dominate the French
Nantes region is France's largest food producer; the city
has recently become a hub of innovation in food security, with
laboratories and firms such as Eurofins Scientific.
Nantes experienced deindustrialisation after port activity in
Saint-Nazaire largely ceased, culminating in the 1987 closure of the
shipyards. At that time, the city attempted to attract service firms.
Nantes capitalised on its culture and proximity to the sea to present
itself as creative and modern.
Capgemini (management consulting), SNCF
Bouygues Telecom opened large offices in the city, followed
by smaller companies. Since 2000
Nantes has developed a business
district, Euronantes, with 500,000 square metres (5,400,000 square
feet) of office space and 10,000 jobs. Although its stock
exchange was merged with Paris' in 1990,
Nantes is the
third-largest financial centre in
Paris and Lyon.
The Euronantes business district
The city has one of the best-performing economies in France, producing
€55 billion annually; €29 billion returns to the local
Nantes has over 25,000 businesses with 167,000
jobs, and its metropolitan area has 42,000 firms and 328,000
jobs. The city is one of France's most dynamic in job creation,
with 19,000 jobs created in
Nantes Métropole between 2007 and 2014
(outperforming larger cities such as Marseilles,
Lyon and Nice).
The communes surrounding
Nantes have industrial estates and retail
parks, many along the region's ring road. The metropolitan area has
ten large shopping centres; the largest, Atlantis in Saint-Herblain,
is a mall with 116 shops and several superstores (including
IKEA). The shopping centres threaten independent shops in central
Nantes, but it remains the region's largest retail area  with
about 2,000 shops. Tourism is a growing sector and Nantes, with
two million visitors annually, is France's seventh-most-visited
In 2014, 74.6 percent of the city's businesses were involved in trade,
transport and services; 16.2 percent in administration, education and
health; 5.4 percent in construction, and 3.7 percent in
industry. Although industry is less significant than it was
before the 1970s,
Nantes is France's second-largest centre for
aeronautics. The European company
Airbus produces its fleet's
wingboxes and radomes in Nantes, employing about 2,000 people.
The city's remaining port terminal still handles wood, sugar,
fertilizer, metals, sand and cereals, ten percent of the total
Saint-Nazaire harbour traffic (along the
The Atlanpole technopole, in northern
Nantes on its border with
Carquefou, intends to develop technological and science sectors
throughout the Pays de la Loire. With a business incubator, it has 422
companies and 71 research and higher-education facilities and
specialises in biopharmaceuticals, information technology, renewable
energy, mechanics, food production and naval engineering.
Creative industries in
Nantes had over 9,000 architectural, design,
fashion, media, visual-arts and digital-technology companies in 2016,
a 15-percent job-creation rate between 2007 and 2012 and have a hub
under construction on the Isle of Nantes.
Main gate of the Castle of the Dukes of Brittany
Nantes' cityscape is primarily recent, with more buildings built
during the 20th century than in any other era. The city has 122
buildings listed as monuments historiques, the 19th-ranked French
city. Most of the old buildings were made of tuffeau stone (a
light, easily-sculpted sandstone typical of the
Loire Valley) and
cheaper schist. Because of its sturdiness, granite was often used for
foundations. Old buildings on the former Feydeau Island and the
neighbouring embankments often lean because they were built on damp
Nantes has a few structures dating to antiquity and the early Middle
Ages. Remnants of the third-century Roman city wall exist in the old
Saint-Étienne chapel, in the Saint-Donatien cemetery
outside the city centre, dates to 510 and was originally part of a
Roman necropolis. The Roman city walls were largely replaced
during the 13th and 15th centuries. Although many of the walls were
destroyed in the 18th century, some segments (such as Porte
Saint-Pierre, built in 1478) survived.
Belfry of Sainte-Croix Church
Several 15th- and 16th-century half-timbered houses still stand in Le
Bouffay, an ancient area corresponding to Nantes' medieval core
which is bordered by
Nantes Cathedral and the Castle of the Dukes of
Brittany. The large, Gothic cathedral replaced an earlier Romanesque
church. Its construction took 457 years, from 1434 to 1891. The
cathedral's tomb of Francis II, Duke of
Brittany and his wife is an
example of French
Renaissance sculpture. The Psallette, built
next to the cathedral about 1500, is a late-Gothic mansion. The
Gothic castle is one of Nantes' chief landmarks. Begun in 1207, many
of its current buildings date to the 15th century. Although the castle
had a military role, it was also a residence for the ducal court.
Granite towers on the outside hide delicate tuffeau-stone ornaments on
its inner facades, designed in
Flamboyant style with Italianate
Counter-Reformation inspired two baroque churches:
the 1655 Oratory Chapel and Sainte-Croix Church, rebuilt in 1670. A
municipal belfry clock (originally on a tower of Bouffay Castle, a
prison demolished after the French Revolution) was added to the church
in 1860. 
Place Foch, with its
Louis XVI column
After the Renaissance,
Nantes developed west of its medieval core
along new embankments. Trade-derived wealth permitted the construction
of many public monuments during the 18th century, most designed by the
neoclassical architects Jean-Baptiste Ceineray and Mathurin Crucy.
They include the Chamber of Accounts of
Brittany (now the préfecture,
1763–1783); the Graslin Theatre (1788); Place Foch, with its column
and statue of
Louis XVI (1790), and the stock exchange (1790–1815).
Place Royale was completed in 1790, and the large fountain added in
1865. Its statues represent the city of Nantes, the
Loire and its main
tributaries. The city's 18th-century heritage is also reflected in the
hôtels particuliers and other private buildings for the wealthy, such
as the Cours Cambronne (inspired by Georgian terraces). Although
many of the 18th-century buildings have a neoclassical design, they
are adorned with sculpted rococo faces and balconies. This
architecture has been called "Nantais baroque".
The Passage Pommeraye, a shopping mall
Most of Nantes' churches were rebuilt during the 19th century, a
period of population growth and religious revival after the French
Revolution. Most were rebuilt in Gothic Revival style, including the
city's two basilicas: Saint-Nicolas and Saint-Donatien. The first,
built between 1844 and 1869, was one of France's first Gothic Revival
projects. The latter was built between 1881 and 1901, after the
Franco-Prussian War (which triggered another Catholic revival in
France). Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Port, near the Loire, is an example of
19th-century neoclassicism. Built in 1852, its iconic dome was
inspired by that of
Les Invalides in Paris. The Passage
Pommeraye, built in 1840–1843, is a multi-storey shopping arcade
typical of the mid-19th century.
Industrial architecture includes several factories converted into
leisure and business space, primarily on the Isle of Nantes. The
Lefèvre-Utile factory is known for its Tour Lu, a publicity
tower built in 1909. Two cranes in the former harbour, dating to the
1950s and 1960s, have also become landmarks. Recent architecture is
dominated by postwar concrete reconstructions, modernist buildings and
examples of contemporary architecture such as the courts of justice,
Jean Nouvel in 2000.
Reliquary of Anne of
Brittany in the Dobrée Museum
Nantes has several museums. The Fine Art Museum is the city's largest.
Opened in 1900, it has an extensive collection ranging from Italian
Renaissance paintings to contemporary sculpture. The museum includes
works by Tintoretto, Brueghel, Rubens, Georges de La Tour, Ingres,
Monet, Picasso, Kandinsky and Anish Kapoor. The Historical Museum
of Nantes, in the castle, is dedicated to local history and houses the
municipal collections. Items include paintings, sculptures,
photographs, maps and furniture displayed to illustrate major points
Nantes history such as the Atlantic slave trade, industrialisation
and the Second World War.
The Dobrée Museum, closed for repairs as of 2017[update], houses the
département's archaeological and decorative-arts collections. The
building is a Romanesque Revival mansion facing a 15th-century manor.
Collections include a golden reliquary made for Anne of Brittany's
heart, medieval statues and timber frames, coins, weapons, jewellery,
manuscripts and archaeological finds. The Natural History Museum
Nantes is one of the largest of its kind in France. It has more
than 1.6 million zoological specimens and several thousand
mineral samples. The Machines of the Isle of Nantes, opened in
2007 in the converted shipyards, has automatons, prototypes inspired
by deep-sea creatures and a 12-metre-tall (39 ft), walking
elephant. With 620,000 visitors in 2015, the Machines were the
most-visited non-free site in Loire-Atlantique. Smaller museums
Jules Verne Museum
Jules Verne Museum (dedicated to the author, who was born
in Nantes) and the Planetarium. The HAB Galerie, located in a former
banana warehouse on the Loire, is Nantes' largest art gallery. Owned
by the city council, it is used for contemporary-art exhibitions.
The council manages four other exhibition spaces, and the city has
several private galleries.
The Graslin Theatre, opened in 1788
Nantes Métropole, an indoor arena in Saint-Herblain, has a
capacity of 9,000 and is France's largest concert venue outside
Paris. Since its opening in 2006, Placebo, Supertramp, Snoop Dogg
Bob Dylan have performed on its stage. Nantes' largest venue is La
Nantes Events Center, a 2,000-seat auditorium. It hosts
concerts, congresses and exhibitions, and is the primary venue of the
Pays de la
Loire National Orchestra. The Graslin Theatre, built in
1788, is home to the Angers-
Nantes Opéra. The former LU biscuit
factory, facing the castle, has been converted into Le Lieu unique. It
includes a Turkish bath, restaurant and bookshop and hosts art
exhibits, drama, music and dance performances. The 879-seat Grand
T is the
Loire-Atlantique département theatre, and the Salle
Vasse is managed by the city. Other theatres include the Théâtre
universitaire and several private venues. La Fabrique, a cultural
entity managed by the city, has three sites which include music
studios and concert venues. The largest is Stereolux, specialising in
rock concerts, experimental happenings and other contemporary
performances. The 140-seat Pannonica specialises in jazz, and the
nearby 503-seat Salle Paul-Fort is dedicated to contemporary French
Nantes has five cinemas, with others throughout the
Events and festivals
Main hall at the Machines of the Isle of Nantes
Royal de Luxe
Royal de Luxe street theatre company moved to
Nantes in 1989, and
has produced a number of shows in the city. The company is noted for
its large marionettes (including a giraffe, the Little Giant and the
Sultan's Elephant), and has also performed in Lisbon, Berlin, London
and Santiago. Former
Royal de Luxe
Royal de Luxe machine designer François
Delarozière created the
Machines of the Isle of Nantes
Machines of the Isle of Nantes and its large
walking elephant in 2007. The Machines sponsor theatre, dance,
concerts, ice-sculpting shows and performances for children in the
spring and fall and at Christmastime.
Estuaire contemporary-art exhibitions were held along the Loire
estuary in 2007, 2009 and 2012. They left several permanent works
of art in
Nantes and inspired the Voyage à Nantes, a series of
contemporary-art exhibitions across the city which has been held every
summer since 2012. A route (a green line painted on the pavement)
helps visitors make the voyage between the exhibitions and the city's
major landmarks. Some works of art are permanent, and others are used
for a summer. Permanent sculptures include Daniel Buren's Anneaux
(a series of 18 rings along the
Loire reminiscent of Atlantic slave
trade shackles) and works by
François Morellet and Dan Graham.
La Folle Journée
La Folle Journée (The Mad Day, an alternate title of Pierre
Beaumarchais' play The Marriage of Figaro) is a classical music
festival held each winter. The original one-day festival now lasts for
five days. Its programme has a main theme (past themes have included
exile, nature, Russia and Frédéric Chopin), mixing classics with
lesser-known and -performed works. The concept has been exported to
Tokyo and Warsaw, and the festival sold a record 154,000
tickets in 2015. The September Rendez-vous de l'
Erdre couples a
jazz festival with a pleasure-boating show on the Erdre, exposing
the public to a musical genre considered elitist; all concerts are
free. Annual attendance is about 150,000. The Three Continents
Festival is an annual film festival dedicated to Asia,
South America, with a Mongolfière d'or (Golden Hot-air Balloon)
awarded to the best film.
Nantes also hosts Univerciné (festivals
dedicated to films in English, Italian, Russian and German) and a
smaller Spanish film festival. The
Scopitone festival is dedicated to
digital art, and
Utopiales is an international science fiction
In the arts
J. M. W. Turner's
Nantes from the Ile Feydeau (1829-30)
Nantes has been described as the birthplace of surrealism, since
André Breton (leader of the movement) met
Jacques Vaché there in
1916. In Nadja (1928),
André Breton called
Nantes "perhaps with
Paris the only city in
France where I have the impression that
something worthwhile may happen to me". Fellow surrealist Julien
Gracq wrote The Shape of a City, published in 1985, about the city.
Nantes also inspired
Stendhal (in his 1838 Mémoires d'un touriste);
Gustave Flaubert (in his 1881 Par les champs et par les grèves, where
he describes his journey through Brittany); Henry James, in his 1884 A
Little Tour in France;
André Pieyre de Mandiargues in Le Musée noir
Paul-Louis Rossi in
The city is the hometown of
French New Wave film director Jacques
Demy. Two of Demy's films were set and shot in Nantes: Lola (1964) and
A Room in Town (1982). The
Passage Pommeraye appears briefly in The
Umbrellas of Cherbourg. Other films set (or filmed) in
God's Thunder by
Denys de La Patellière (1965), The Married Couple of
the Year Two by
Jean-Paul Rappeneau (1971), Day Off by Pascal Thomas
(2001) and Black Venus by
Abdellatif Kechiche (2010). Jean-Luc
Keep Your Right Up was filmed at its airport in 1987.
Nantes appears in a number of songs, the best-known to non-French
audiences being 2007's "Nantes" by the American band Beirut.
French-language songs include "Nantes" by Barbara (1964) and "Nantes"
Renan Luce (2009). The city is mentioned in about 50 folk songs,
making it the most-sung-about city in
France after Paris. "Dans les
prisons de Nantes" is the most popular, with versions recorded by
Édith Piaf and
Georges Brassens and the Breton band
Tri Yann in 1973.
Other popular folk songs include "Le pont de Nantes" (recorded by Guy
Béart in 1967 and
Nana Mouskouri in 1978), "Jean-François de Nantes"
(a sea shanty) and the bawdy "De
Nantes à Montaigu".
J. M. W. Turner
J. M. W. Turner visited
Nantes in 1826 as part of a
journey in the
Loire Valley, and later painted a watercolour view of
Nantes from Feydeau Island. The painting was bought by the city in
1994, and is on exhibit at the Historical Museum in the castle.
Turner also made two sketches of the city, which are in collections at
1897 advertisement for the LU Petit-Beurre
During the 19th century Nantes-born gastronome Charles Monselet
praised the "special character" of the local "plebeian" cuisine, which
included buckwheat crepes, caillebotte fermented milk and fouace
Nantes region is renowned in
France for market
gardens and is a major producer of corn salad, leeks, radishes and
Nantes has a wine-growing region, the Vignoble nantais,
primarily south of the Loire. It is the largest producer of dry white
wines in France, chiefly
Muscadet and Gros Plant (usually served with
fish, langoustines and oysters).
Local fishing ports such as
La Turballe and
Le Croisic mainly offer
shrimp and sardines, and eels, lampreys, zander and northern pike are
caught in the Loire. Local vegetables and fish are widely
available in the city's eighteen markets, including the Talensac
covered market (Nantes' largest and best-known). Although local
restaurants tend to serve simple dishes made with fresh local
products, exotic trends have influenced many chefs in recent
Beurre blanc is Nantes' most-famous local specialty. Made with
Muscadet, it was invented around 1900 in
the south bank of the Loire) and has become a popular accompaniment
for fish. Other specialties are the LU and BN biscuits, including
Petit-Beurre (produced since 1886), berlingot (fr) (sweets
made with flavoured melted sugar) and similar rigolette (fr)
sweets with marmalade filling, gâteau nantais (a rum cake invented in
1820), Curé nantais (fr) and Mâchecoulais cheeses and fouace, a
star-shaped brioche served with new wine in autumn.
The Château du Tertre on the university campus
University of Nantes
University of Nantes was first founded in 1460 by Francis II, Duke
of Brittany, but it failed to become a large institution during the
Ancien Régime. It disappeared in 1793 with the abolition of French
universities. During the 19th century, when many of the former
Nantes was neglected and local students had to
Rennes and Angers. In 1961 the university was finally recreated,
Nantes has not established itself as a large university city.
The university had about 30,000 students during the 2013-2014 academic
year, and the metropolitan area had a total student population of
53,000. This was lower than in nearby
Rennes (64,000), and
the ninth-largest commune in
France in its percentage of
students. The university is part of the EPSCP Bretagne-Loire
Université, which joins seven universities in western
improve the region's academic and research potential.
In addition to the university,
Nantes has a number of colleges and
other institutes of higher education. Audencia, a private management
school, is ranked as one of the world's best by the Financial Times
and The Economist. The city has five engineering schools:
Oniris (veterinary medicine and food safety), École centrale de
Nantes (mechanical and civil engineering), Polytech
technology and civil engineering),
École des mines de Nantes (nuclear
technology, safety and energy) and ICAM (research and logistics).
Nantes has three grandes écoles: the École supérieure du
bois (fr) (forestry and wood processing), the School of Design
and Exi-Cesi (fr) (computing). Other institutes of higher
education include a national merchant navy school, a fine-arts school,
a national architectural school and
Epitech and Supinfo
The Stade de la Beaujoire
Nantes has several large sports facilities. The largest is the Stade
de la Beaujoire, built for UEFA
Euro 1984. The stadium, which also
hosted matches during the
1998 FIFA World Cup
1998 FIFA World Cup and the 2007 Rugby World
Cup, has 37,473 seats. The second-largest venue is the Hall XXL, an
exhibition hall on the
Stade de la Beaujoire
Stade de la Beaujoire grounds. The 10,700-seat
stadium was selected as a venue for the 2017 World Men's Handball
Championship. Smaller facilities include the 4,700-seat indoor Palais
des Sports, a venue for EuroBasket 1983. The nearby Mangin Beaulieu
sports complex has 2,500 seats and Pierre Quinon Stadium, an athletics
stadium within the University of Nantes, has 790 seats. La
Trocardière, an indoor 4,238-seat stadium, is in Rezé. The
Erdre has a marina and a centre for rowing, sailing and canoeing, and
the city has six swimming pools.
Six teams in
Nantes play at a high national or international level.
Best known is FC Nantes, member of
Ligue 1 for the 2016–17 season.
Since its formation in 1943, the club has won eight Championnat titles
and three Coupes de France.
FC Nantes has several French professional
football records, including the most consecutive seasons in the elite
division (44), most wins in a season (26), consecutive wins (32) and
consecutive home wins (92 games, nearly five years). In handball,
volleyball and basketball, Nantes' men's and women's clubs play in the
French first division:
HBC Nantes and
Loire Atlantique Handball
Rezé Métropole Volley (fr) and Volley-Ball
Nantes (fr) (volleyball) and
Hermine de Nantes Atlantique
Hermine de Nantes Atlantique and
Rezé Basket (fr) (basketball). The men's
Futsal (fr) futsal team plays in the Championnat de
Futsal, and the main athletics team (
Nantes Métropole Athlétisme)
includes some of France's best athletes.
Tram on a grassed track
The city is linked to
Paris by the A11 motorway, which passes through
Le Mans and Chartres.
Nantes is on the Way of the Estuaries, a
network of motorways connecting northern
France and the Spanish border
in the south-west while bypassing Paris. The network serves Rouen, Le
La Rochelle and Bordeaux. South of Nantes, the road
corresponds to the A83 motorway; north of the city (towards Rennes) it
is the RN137, a free highway. These motorways form a 43-kilometre
(27 mi) ring road around the city, France's second-longest after
the ring in Bordeaux.
Nantes' central railway station is connected by
TGV trains to Paris,
Marseille and Strasbourg. The
LGV Atlantique high-speed
Paris in two hours, ten minutes (compared with four
hours by car). With almost 12 million passengers each year, the Nantes
station is the sixth-busiest in
France outside Paris. In addition
TGV trains, the city is connected by
Intercités trains to Rennes,
Vannes, Quimper, Tours, Orléans,
La Rochelle and Bordeaux. Local
TER trains serve Pornic,
Cholet or Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie.
A river bus and Nantes' iconic yellow crane
Nantes Atlantique Airport
Nantes Atlantique Airport in Bouguenais, 8 kilometres (5.0 miles)
south-east of the city centre, serves about 80 destinations in Europe
(primarily in France, Spain, Italy, the
United Kingdom and Greece) and
connects airports in Africa, the
Caribbean and Canada. Air
traffic has increased from 2.6 million passengers in 2009 to 4.1
million in 2014, while its capacity has been estimated at 3.5 million
passengers per year. A new
Aéroport du Grand Ouest in
Notre-Dame-des-Landes, 20 kilometres (12 miles) north of Nantes, was
projected from the 1970s, to create a hub serving north-western
France. Its construction was however strongly opposed, primarily by
green and anti-capitalist activists. The potential construction site
was long occupied and the project became a political topic on the
national scale. The French government eventually decided to renounce
to the project in 2018.
Public transport in
Nantes is managed by Semitan, also known as "Tan".
One of the world's first horsebus transit systems was developed in the
city in 1826.
Nantes built its first compressed-air tram network in
1879, which was electrified in 1911. Like most European tram networks,
Nantes' disappeared during the 1950s in the wake of automobiles and
buses. However, in 1985
Nantes was the first city in
reintroduce trams. The city has an extensive public-transport
network consisting of trams, buses and river shuttles. The Nantes
tramway has three lines and a total of 43.5 kilometres (27.0 miles) of
Semitan counted 132.6 million trips in 2015, of which 72.3
million were by tram. Navibus, the river shuttle, has two lines:
one on the
Erdre and the other on the Loire. The latter has 520,000
passengers annually and succeeds the Roquio service, which operated on
Loire from 1887 to the 1970s.
Nantes is trying to develop a tram-train system, which would allow
suburban trains to run on tram lines; the system already exists in
Mulhouse (in eastern France) and Karlsruhe, Germany. The city has two
tram-train lines: Nantes-
Clisson (southern) and Nantes-Châteaubriant
(northern). Neither is yet connected to the existing tram network, and
resemble small suburban trains more than tram-trains. The Bicloo
bicycle-sharing system has 880 bicycles at 103 stations.
Nantes Public Transportation Statistics
The average amount of time people spend commuting with public transit
Nantes & Saint-Nazaire, for example to and from work, on a
weekday is 40 min. 7.1% of public transit riders, ride for more than 2
hours every day. The average amount of time people wait at a stop or
station for public transit is 12 min, while 16.8% of riders wait for
over 20 minutes on average every day. The average distance people
usually ride in a single trip with public transit is 5 km, while 2%
travel for over 12 km in a single direction. 
France 3 Pays de la
Loire set at La Folle Journée
The local press is dominated by the Ouest-
France group, which owns the
area's two major newspapers: Ouest-
France and Presse-Océan.
Ouest-France, based in Rennes, covers north-western
France and is the
country's best-selling newspaper. Presse-Océan, based in Nantes,
covers Loire-Atlantique. The Ouest-
France group is also a shareholder
of the French edition of 20 Minutes, one of two free newspapers
distributed in the city. The other free paper is Direct Matin, which
has no local edition. The news agency Médias Côte Ouest publishes
Wik and Kostar, two free magazines dedicated to local cultural life.
Nantes has a satirical weekly newspaper, La Lettre à Lulu, and
several specialised magazines. Places publiques is dedicated to
Nantes and Saint-Nazaire; Brief focuses on public
communication; Le Journal des Entreprises targets managers; Nouvel
Ouest is for decision-makers in western France, and Idîle provides
information on the local creative industry.
Nantes is home to
Millénaire Presse—the largest French publishing house dedicated to
professional entertainers—which publishes several magazines,
including La Scène. The city publishes a free monthly magazine,
Nantes Passion, and five other free magazines for specific areas:
Couleur locale (Les Dervallières), Ecrit de Bellevue, Malakocktail
(Malakoff) Mosaïques (Nantes-Nord) and Zest for the eastern
National radio stations FIP and Fun Radio have outlets in Nantes.
Virgin Radio has a local outlet in nearby Basse-Goulaine, and Chérie
NRJ have outlets in Rezé.
Nantes is home to
Loire-Océan, the local station of the Radio
France public network,
and several private local stations: Alternantes, dedicated to cultural
diversity and tolerance; Euradionantes, a local- and European-news
station; Fidélité, a Christian station; Hit West and SUN Radio, two
music stations; Prun, dedicated to students, and Radio Atlantis
(focused on the local economy).
Nantes is the headquarters of
France 3 Pays de la Loire, one of 24
local stations of the
France Télévisions national public
France 3 Pays de la
Loire provides local news and
programming for the region. The city is also home to
Télénantes, a local, private television channel founded in 2004.
Primarily a news channel, it is available in
parts of neighbouring
Vendée and Maine-et-Loire.
See also: List of people from Nantes
Jules Verne, born in
Nantes in 1828
Nantes is the birthplace of Duke of
Brittany Arthur I and Duchess Anne
of Brittany, who was queen consort twice. The city is the hometown of
naval officer Jacques Cassard,
General Pierre Cambronne,
science-fiction writer Jules Verne, statesmen Pierre Waldeck-Rousseau
Nobel Peace Prize
Nobel Peace Prize co-laureate Aristide Briand, automotive
pioneer Jules-Albert de Dion, surrealist Claude Cahun, film directors
Denys de La Patellière and Jean-Loup Hubert, cartoonist Claire
Éric Tabarly and Loïck Peyron, singers Jeanne
Cherhal and Christine and the Queens, author
François Bégaudeau and
Madeon and C2C. Film director
Jacques Demy spent his
childhood in Nantes, and statesman
Joseph Fouché was educated there.
Nantes' oldest high school, Lycée Georges-Clemenceau (founded in
1808), was attended by Verne and fellow authors Jules Vallès, Paul
Nizan and Julien Gracq, composer
Olivier Messiaen and statesmen
Georges Clemenceau and Robert Badinter. French surrealist André
Breton studied medicine in the city.
Communes of the
^ See Ptolemy, Geography, 214, 9.
^ a b Chubendret — Dictionnaire.
^ Gawc - World.
^ European Green Capital 2013.
^ Claire Iochum.
^ Delamarre 2003.
^ Vial 1983.
^ Jean-Marie Cassagne and Mariola Korsak 2002, p. 88.
^ Billy 1993.
^ L. Pirault 1999, pp. 10–19.
^ a b Deroy & Mulon 1992, pp. 330b-331a.
^ Historique de la.
^ Rostaing 1980.
^ Travers 1836, p. &4.
^ Favereau 1997, p. 27.
^ Cornet 1996, p. 5.
^ Julie Postolec 2016.
^ Pétré-Grenouilleau 2008, p. 17.
^ Decours 2006, p. 9.
^ a b Decours 2006, p. 10.
^ a b Pétré-Grenouilleau 2008, p. 19.
^ Bois 1977, p. 31.
^ a b Pétré-Grenouilleau 2008, p. 20.
^ Bois 1977, p. 39.
^ Lelièvre 2000, p. 19.
^ Bois 1977, p. 41.
^ Bois 1977, p. 43.
^ Bois 1977, p. 44.
^ Bois 1977, p. 47.
^ a b Pétré-Grenouilleau 2008, p. 25.
^ Pétré-Grenouilleau 2008, p. 26.
^ Pétré-Grenouilleau 2008, p. 27.
^ Pétré-Grenouilleau 2008, pp. 48–49.
^ Le Page 2014, pp. 22–23.
^ a b Decours 2006, p. 26.
^ a b c d e Histoire du Port.
^ Pétré-Grenouilleau 2008, p. 32.
^ Bois 1977, p. 90.
^ Pétré-Grenouilleau 2008, p. 31.
^ Pétré-Grenouilleau 2008, p. 49.
^ Le Page 2014, p. 46.
^ Pétré-Grenouilleau 2008, p. 56.
^ Decours 2006, p. 58.
^ Decours 2006, p. 64.
^ a b Decours 2006, p. 59.
^ Decours 2006, p. 77.
^ Pétré-Grenouilleau 2008, p. 92.
^ a b Decours 2006, p. 84.
^ Pétré-Grenouilleau 2008, p. 87.
^ Decours 2006, p. 85.
^ Lelièvre 2000, p. 50.
^ a b c Pétré-Grenouilleau 2008, p. 106.
^ Pétré-Grenouilleau 2008, p. 114.
^ Pétré-Grenouilleau 2008, p. 115.
^ Chauveau 1993, p. 150.
^ a b Pétré-Grenouilleau 2008, p. 138.
^ Decours 2006, p. 103.
^ Pétré-Grenouilleau 2008, p. 139.
^ Pétré-Grenouilleau 2008, p. 146.
^ Pétré-Grenouilleau 2008, p. 164.
^ Pétré-Grenouilleau 2008, p. 149.
^ Decours 2006, p. 109.
^ a b Pétré-Grenouilleau 2008, p. 188.
^ Bois 1977, p. 391.
^ Dictionnaire de
Nantes 2013, p. 242.
^ Bois 1977, p. 393.
^ Il y a 70 ans.
^ Pétré-Grenouilleau 2008, p. 238.
^ Mai 68.
^ Pétré-Grenouilleau 2008, p. 250.
^ Pétré-Grenouilleau 2008, pp. 271–277.
^ Recherche d'orthodromie depuis.
^ Pétré-Grenouilleau 2008, p. 12.
^ a b c Lelièvre 2000, p. 15.
^ a b c Lelièvre 2000, p. 14.
^ Bois 1977, p. 9.
^ a b Pétré-Grenouilleau 2008, p. 15.
^ Boggs 1945, pp. 345–355.
^ Les amplitudes de 2013.
^ Decours 2006, p. 7.
^ Rééquilibrage du lit.
^ Dictionnaire de
Nantes 2013, p. 989.
^ Corbé 2003, pp. 26–28.
^ a b M. Ters, J. Marchand & G. Weecksteen 1970.
^ a b c d D. Janjou & avec collaboration de M. Gruet et C. Penecki
^ a b c d e Plan local d'urbanisme 2007.
^ Pierre Falga 2007.
^ Dictionnaire de
Nantes 2013, p. 991.
^ a b c Dictionnaire de
Nantes 2013, p. 83.
^ Julie Urbach 2016.
^ a b Les parcs et.
^ Jardin des plantes.
^ La qualité de 2014.
^ Les nouveaux quartiers 2010.
^ Vos 65 élu-e-s.
^ Le pouvoir municipal.
^ Antoine Gazeau 2013.
^ Le dialogue citoyen.
^ Les compétences de.
^ Compétences de la.
^ Une organisation au.
^ a b c Historique des armoiries.
^ Drapeau de la.
^ Reviews of Life.
^ Le Page 2014, p. 71.
^ Le Page 2014, p. 76.
^ Le Page 2014, p. 83.
^ Le Page 2014, pp. 93-94.
^ Alain Déniel 1976.
^ Bodineau 1995.
^ Le Page 2014, p. 95.
^ Le Page 2014, p. 124.
^ La réunification de 2015.
^ Bretagne: la bataille de la réunification.
^ Le Page 2014, p. 134.
^ Le Page 2014, p. 135.
Nantes et les.
^ British towns twinned.
^ Home page of 2010.
Tbilisi Sister Cities.
^ Nantes, France.
^ Orase infratite.
^ Jumelage entre les villes.
^ Atlas français de la coopération décentralisée.
^ Liste des jumelages.
^ Les partenariats thématiques.
^ Programme DANK (Dschang,.
^ Des villages de.
^ a b c d e Dossier complet Commune.
^ a b c Bairouch, Latou & Chèvre 1988, p. 28.
^ a b c Dictionnaire de
Nantes 2013, p. 797.
^ Dictionnaire de
Nantes 2013, p. 798.
^ Lionel Kerdommarec & Patrick Pailloux 2011.
^ Dictionnaire de
Nantes 2013, p. 190.
^ Dictionnaire de
Nantes 2013, p. 193.
^ Dictionnaire de
Nantes 2013, p. 816.
^ Dictionnaire de
Nantes 2013, p. 767.
^ Dictionnaire de
Nantes 2013, pp. 692–693.
^ Dictionnaire de
Nantes 2013, p. 753.
^ Le Page 2014, p. 70.
Nantes signe la 2013.
^ Industries agroalimentaires.
Nantes est 2015.
^ Euronantes, projet emblématique 2011.
^ Philippe Audureau.
^ La deuxième place.
^ Quiriet 2016.
^ a b L’Emploi dans la.
^ Nantes. Le nouveau 2012.
^ Schéma directeur de 2012, p. 12.
^ Un centre ville.
Nantes en 7ème.
^ Les filières économiques.
^ Travailler pour Airbus.
^ Les multiples facettes.
^ Industries créatives et.
^ Dictionnaire de
Nantes 2013, p. 44.
^ Monuments historiques à.
^ La ville rivulaire.
^ Le patrimoine des 1999, p. 651.
^ Le patrimoine des 1999, p. 652.
^ a b Le patrimoine des 1999, p. 682.
^ Le patrimoine des 1999, p. 664.
^ Le patrimoine des 1999, p. 669.
^ Le patrimoine des 1999, p. 656.
^ Le patrimoine des 1999, p. 693.
^ Le patrimoine des 1999, p. 714.
^ Gilles Bienvenu & Françoise Lelièvre 1992, p. 41.
^ Le patrimoine des 1999, p. 715.
^ Le patrimoine des 1999, p. 717.
^ Laissez-Vous conter Nantes.
^ Dictionnaire de
Nantes 2013, pp. 48–49.
^ Le Musée d'arts.
^ Collections et recherches.
^ Les collections.
^ Aperçu des collections.
^ Machines de l'île.
^ HAB Galerie.
^ Autres lieux d'exposition.
Le Zénith Nantes.
^ La Cité Nantes.
^ Le lieu unique.
^ Le Grand T.
^ La Bouche d'Air.
^ Dictionnaire de
Nantes 2013, pp. 238-239.
^ Royal de Luxe.
^ Programmation culturelle.
^ Voyage à Nantes.
^ Dictionnaire de
Nantes 2013, p. 56.
^ Record de fréquentation 2015.
^ Dictionnaire de
Nantes 2013, p. 422.
^ Aurélien Tiercin 2016.
^ Dictionnaire de
Nantes 2013, p. 423.
^ Pétré-Grenouilleau 2008, p. 200.
^ J. H. Matthews 1986, p. 52.
^ Au fil des pages de "
Nantes dans la littérature".
^ Dictionnaire de
Nantes 2013, pp. 238–239.
^ Dictionnaire de
Nantes 2013, p. 203.
^ Sur les traces 2014.
^ Hervouët 2014.
^ a b c d Qu'Est-Ce que la 2008.
^ a b Cuisine et vin.
^ Le terroir nantais.
^ Dictionnaire de
Nantes 2013, p. 988.
^ Atlas régional.
Nantes School of Management.
^ Business Education.
^ Des formations d'excellence.
^ Les stades et.
^ Les piscines à.
^ Les clubs d'élite.
^ Chantal Boutry & Joël Bigorgne 2013.
^ La gare de 2013.
^ Carte des destinations 2015.
^ Carte du réseau 2015.
^ Liste des destinations.
^ Résultats d’activité des 2015.
^ Marie Conquy 2012.
^ Pascal Perry 2016.
^ Rémi Barroux 2016.
Nantes - Tramways.
^ Les chiffres clés.
^ Transport fluvial : 2015.
^ Nantes: L'été radieux 2016.
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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
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^ Journaux de quartier.
^ La télévision de.
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Look up Nantes#Translations in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
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