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This European City Is The Perfect Place For A Relaxed City Break

By clodagh

July 18, 2017 at 3:31pm

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While it may not be on the top of everyone's travel bucket list, France still holds a solid place in people's minds as a holiday destination.

Paris, Lyon, Marseille are all home to countless tourists every year, 365 days a year who make their way to see the sights of this glorious county.

But, if you travel just a little south of Paris, you'll find a smaller, but equally charming city by the name of Nantes.

It's a lesser-known city, but one visit and its relaxed atmosphere and slow way of life will leave its mark on you.

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To do:

A lot of the main tourist attractions in Nantes are smaller than you'd expect, but that doesn't mean you should rush around and try get them all done in the one day.

Nantes is full of small and interesting tourist attractions for you to slowly gain a taste of the city.

The main one is, of course, l'éléphant (elephant). This is found on the island of the city, which is accessible via tram and a short walk.

On the island is les machines de l'Ile (the machines of the island). This is a quirky exhibition of mechanical animals that walk around this quasi industrial site.

The exhibition was built to honour Nantes' industrial past, which took place mainly on the island. 

Take a ride on this 40ft elephant to get unique views of Nantes (be warned: it goes a lot slower than you'd think).


Next up on your list should be the castle: le chateau d'Anne de Bretagne.

This castle is gorgeous. It was built in the Middle Ages and was the eventual home of Anne of Brittany. 

You can picnic outside the castle in the glorious sunshine (drinking in public is legal over there - hint hint), or head inside to wander the courtyard.

The museum in the castle is a treasure trove of information, covering everything from Nantes' slavery history to the Second World War.

Tickets are very reasonably priced and you could easily spend two hours here. 

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The Natural History Museum is a perfect way to get out of the heart for a while - it gets really hot - and it's cheap as chips. Two of us got in for less than a fiver!

Wander through the floors and look at all sorts of creatures both great and small, and learn literally everything you could want to know about ants.

Seriously. 


To eat: 

The most important thing.

Every corner you turn in Nantes there is somewhere new that you'll want to try, so here's a helping hand...

Creperie Sainte Croix is the only place you should go to for galettes and crepes.

For €12 you get a galette (the best in Nantes, IMHO), a crepe, a glass of wine and a tea/coffee.

It may not sound like much, but honestly, you'll be rolling out of there afterwards in a wonderful post-food haze.

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For something a little heavier and fancier for your evening dinner, my favourite spot was La Taverne Royale in the main square, Place Royale.

Their menu changes on the season, but you're guaranteed fresh fish, meat and of course, wine to die for. 

Trust me, you won't be leaving that restaurant after one glass.

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To see:

The Japanese Gardens in the North of the city are incredible.

They're hidden behind some cherry blossom trees, and suddenly you're in this secluded paradise.

It's not huge, but you'll want to do a couple laps of this gorge place.

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For the evening:

If you want to head out for la soir, you will not be short of choice. 

There are so many cute bars dotted around the city and, if you're feeling homesick, head to Giggs Irish Pub for fish and chips.

Unreal.

If you're in the mood for a bop, head out to the island for a strip of bars and clubs by the river, and keep an eye out for the rings lit up on the pier.

Drink is verrry cheap over there - I'm talking glasses of wine for €3 - so having prinks out is very affordable.


For relaxing:

One of my favourite things to do during my time in Nantes was go for a walk along the Erdre. 

Walking - or running, if you're into that sort of thing, you monster - is one of the most peaceful things you can do in the city.

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Nantes is a deadly place for a quick break-away because it feels like a city, but just slowed down.

The streets are wide with loads of space, you'll never be stuck in a human traffic jam like you would in Dublin.

To be honest, anything you do when here will leave you feeling relaxed and chilled.

Do as the locals do, and take it easy, and you'll come home feeling renewed and fresh, prom prom.

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