In between the country and the city, you’ll find a unique space of land that’s not quite full country and not quite full of high risers. It’s simplicity amongst chaos.
This is Nantes, located on the Loire in Western France. This idyllic city has greenery blushing through the crevices of the city, making it look like an abandoned building. But it’s far from it.
With areas like downtown, Bouffay, Graslin, Ile de Nantes, Dervallières-Zola and Erdre Porterie, it’s a place that beckons tourists, families, foodies, locals and nature lovers. This is where to stay in Nantes, France.
|❤️ Best Area first timers||Downtown Nantes|
|💸 Best Luxury Hotel||SOZO Hotel|
|👪 Best Hotel for For Families||Mercure Nantes Centre Gare|
|🏨 Best Mid-Range Hotel||Suite Pommeraye|
|🛏️ Best Budget Hotel||Nantes Mangin-direct gare|
Below are 6 of the best area to stay in Nantes to help you make the right decision when trying to work out options for accommodation in Nantes for you. We have tried to make the guide as easy to follow as possible.
We have also included some things to do or places to visit as well as some eatery suggestions of either our favourite places or some funky places to eat at within the areas in Nantes so you can use this as a go to guide.
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Downtown Nantes – Where to stay in Nantes for Tourists
Why stay in Downtown Nantes?
Downtown Nantes is in the center of the city, making it a convenient base for exploring the various attractions and landmarks.
Many of the city’s key sights, such as the Château des ducs de Bretagne, the Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul, and the Jardin des Plantes, are located in or near the downtown area. Staying downtown allows for easy access to these places on foot or by public transportation.
It’s also a cultural pot of wonder with mellow streets that beckon tourists to the area.
Nantes is known for its pedestrian-friendly infrastructure, and downtown is no exception. The city center features well-maintained sidewalks, pedestrianized streets, and ample green spaces, making it pleasant for walking and exploring.
This is perfect for traversing the banks of the Loire River or the medieval streets of Bouffay, immersing yourself in the city’s ambiance.
It’s also well connected, making it easy to explore. Check out the below list for the best hotels in Nantes France.
Things to do in Downtown Nantes
The Château des ducs de Bretagne once served as the residence of the dukes of Brittany. The castle now houses the Nantes History Museum, where you can learn about the city’s rich history through interactive exhibits.
The imagination of Jules Verne alongside mechanical engineering is a sight to see at Les Machines de l’Île. You’ll see giant mechanical animals, ride on the famous Grand Elephant, or explore the workshop where these magical creations come to life.
The botanical garden of Jardin des Plantes is a tranquil retreat covered in greenery, diverse plant collections, and a serene atmosphere.
Fancy shopping in a 19th-century shopping arcade? The Passage Pommeraye features Renaissance architecture, upscale boutiques, and charming cafés.
The Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul was erected as a symbol of Nantes. You’ll get to see something you cannot see anywhere else in the world here… The impressive tomb of Francis II, the last Duke of Brittany.
Best places to stay in Downtown Nantes
Budget accommodation in Downtown Nantes
- Hôtel Renova
- ibis Styles Nantes Centre Place Royale
- Les machines de Jules, hyper centre
- Loft NYC – Hyper centre
Mid range accommodation in Downtown Nantes
- Suite Pommeraye
- Le Passage Royal – Les Maisons de Madeleine
- Cocoon au coeur de Nantes
- EDGAR – Hyper Centre
Family Friendly accommodation in Downtown Nantes
- Appart’City Confort Nantes Centre
- Mercure Nantes Centre Grand Hotel
- Le Pommeraye : Duplex hyper centre
Affordable Luxury accommodation in Downtown Nantes
Bouffay District – Where to stay in Nantes for Families
Why stay in Bouffay?
If you want to teach the kids about colonial architecture, get them hyped about french streets and want to expand their young palette’s, then the best part of Nantes for you to explore is Bouffay.
And yes, you’ll be greeted with a buffet of architectural starters, historical mains and decadent desserts.
Things to do in Bouffay
When you see medieval streets and half-timbered houses, you know you’ve made it to the right place.
Get the fam up early because today’s going to be a busy one. Firstly, visit the Château des ducs de Bretagne, a prominent castle in Bouffay district. Explore the fortress, walk along its ramparts, and visit the museum inside.
Secondly, the Nantes History Museum offers interactive exhibits and displays that appeal to all ages.
Thirdly, go for a ride on the Navibus. Kids will love taking a boat ride on the Navibus, which shuttles passengers across the Loire River.
The short journey provides a unique perspective of the city and is a fun way to travel between Bouffay and the other side of the river.
Fourthly, reward the family after a long day of exploring with a crêpe or galette from a crêperie. Kids will enjoy the sweet and savory options, especially the nutella filled crêpes.
Best places to stay in Bouffay
Budget accommodation in Bouffay
Mid range accommodation in Bouffay
- Aparthotel Adagio Nantes Centre
- ibis Nantes Centre Gare Sud
- Appart-Hôtels Automatiques LOCIA
- La Maison D’Hôtes Nantes Centre
Family Friendly accommodation in Bouffay
Affordable Luxury accommodation in Bouffay
Graslin District – Where to stay in Nantes for Foodies
Why Stay in Graslin?
Dreaming of Western French delights such as crêpes and galettes, seafood, cider, salted butter caramel, kouign-amann, cider-soaked cheese, andouille de guémené, and tarte tatin?
This is a food lover’s dream. Every corner will have you salivating at the dreamy smells wafting through the area from local bakeries and ancient restaurants.
You’ll find some of the best cuisine in Western France in Graslin district.
Things to do in Graslin
The Talensac Market, located near the Graslin neighborhood, offers fresh produce, artisanal products, cheese, seafood, and more. Strolling through the market and engaging with vendors is a great way to experience the local food culture and discover new flavors.
Try the famous Nantes-style crêpes, which are thin and crispy pancakes typically filled with sweet or savory ingredients.
Graslin is dotted with specialty food stores where you can find unique products and regional treats. From gourmet cheese shops to artisanal bakeries, these establishments offer a chance to taste and purchase high-quality local goods. You’ll soon be able to learn the difference between high quality cheeses back home.
France is renowned for its patisseries and Nantes is no exception. In Graslin, you’ll find delicate pastries, macarons, chocolates, or the local specialty, “gateau nantais,” an almond-flavored cake.
Nantes, located in the Loire Valley, is known for its Muscadet wine production. This is your opportunity to visit wine bars or enotecas in Graslin that offer wine tastings, where you can sample a range of local and regional wines while learning about their characteristics and production methods.
Best places to stay in Graslin
Budget accommodation in Graslin
- L’atelier de Graslin
- Kyriad Nantes Centre Graslin
- Hôtel Le Cambronne
- Appart’City Classic Nantes Quais de Loire
Mid range accommodation in Graslin
- Le Prestige by Cocoonr
- Le Cinq by Cocoonr
- Au cœur de Nantes Design et Cosy
- Le Pommeraye – Coeur de ville
Family Friendly accommodation in Graslin
- Hotel Voltaire Opera Nantes Centre
- Best Western Hotel Graslin
- Mercure Nantes Centre Grand Hotel
- Hôtel Amiral
Affordable Luxury accommodation in Graslin
Île de Nantes – Where to stay in Nantes on a Budget
Why stay in Île de Nantes?
For those who want the full French experience without having to pay the exorbitant prices of iconic parts of the country such as Paris, you’ll head West towards Ile de Nantes.
It’s a beautiful alternative to Paris, with just as much charm and arguably even greater appeal.
There’s something about small streets and local life that is grandly more appealing than that of a swamped metro that most would rather take any day.
Things to do in Île de Nantes
Île de Nantes’ most well- known feature is its creative and artistic atmosphere. Take a stroll around the island and discover the various public art installations, sculptures, and street art. This is a free and visually engaging way to experience the unique character of the area.
While the full experience of the Machines de l’Île may have an admission fee, you can still visit the workshop for free (which is equally as intriguing). Witness the artists and engineers at work in their natural habitat as they create the incredible mechanical creatures.
Île de Nantes is situated along the Loire River, providing a picturesque setting for a budget-friendly outdoor activity. Pack a picnic lunch and find a spot along the riverbank or in one of the nearby parks. This is a cheaper alternative to dining out or getting a takeaway.
Save money by taking a self-guided walking tour where you’ll get to witness the rich industrial past and urban development of Île de Nantes. Visit architectural landmarks, such as the Hangar à Bananes and the Nantes Naval Shipyard.
While some museums may charge an entrance fee, there are free options in Nantes that you can consider.
The Jules Verne Museum, dedicated to the famous science fiction writer, offers free admission on the first Sunday of each month. The Natural History Museum in Nantes also offers free admission to its permanent collection.
Île de Nantes and the wider city of Nantes hosts various free events and festivals throughout the year. These may include outdoor concerts, art exhibitions, cultural performances, and more.
Check the local event calendars to see if there are any upcoming free events during your visit. Local entertainment is always the best way to learn more about a city right from the local’s mouth.if they’re singing it… Bonus!
Other free areas to frequent are two famous parks, namely the Parc des Chantiers and the Parc de l’Île de Versailles.
Top 4 favorites accommodation options for Île de Nantes
- Budget: Nantes Mangin-direct gare
- Mid- Range: Studio Cosy sur île de Nantes – Proche Tram 2 et 3
- Family: Novotel Nantes Centre Bord de Loire
- Luxury: Seven Urban Suites Nantes Centre
Best places to stay in Île de Nantes
Budget accommodation in Île de Nantes
- Chambre D’hôtes sur Île de Nantes
- Le Robinson – Les Maisons de Madeleine
- Studio cosy sur l’île de Nantes
- Nantes Mangin-direct gare
Mid range accommodation in Île de Nantes
- The Rhuys – Cosy-balcony with superb Loire view
- Studio Cosy sur île de Nantes – Proche Tram 2 et 3
- Appartement moderne et spacieux
- Bel appartement avec garage sur l’île de Nantes
Family Friendly accommodation in Île de Nantes
- Résidence Odalys Nantes Cité des Congrès
- Appart-Hotel Mer & Golf City Ile de Nantes
- Novotel Nantes Centre Bord de Loire
- Charmant T2 sur Île de Nantes avec Parking et Balcon
Affordable Luxury accommodation in Île de Nantes
Dervallières-Zola – Where to stay in Nantes like a Local
Why Stay in Dervallières-Zola?
It’s a mouthful of a name, but when you can’t pronounce it, that’s when you know you’re heading into the right place if local is what you love.
When you can’t understand the colloquial language… When you can’t fathom why people are taking a Sunday stroll on a Monday…
When you can’t get lunch because the family business has closed for a nap… that’s when you know you’ve reached the pinnacle of local travel. This is where to stay in Nantes like a local.
Things to do in Dervallières-Zola
Parc de la Bégraisière offers a green escape from the urban surroundings. Take a leisurely walk along the pathways, enjoy a picnic on the grass, or simply relax and soak up what it means to be a Nantes resident.
The Rue Paul Bellamy is a local street lined with shops, cafés, and restaurants. It’s a great place to experience the neighborhood’s everyday life. Witness hoe the people of Nantes live, appreciate their quirks and revel in the beauty of the city.
Discover the Eglise Saint-Pasquier: Visit the Eglise Saint-Pasquier, a charming church located in Dervallières-Zola. Take in the architectural details and step inside to appreciate the interior. The church often hosts cultural events and concerts, so check if there are any upcoming performances during your visit.
Dervallières-Zola has a variety of restaurants and eateries where you can taste local and international flavors. Look out for establishments serving Nantes’ specialty dishes such as “galette nantaise” (a savory buckwheat pancake) or “moules-frites” (mussels and fries).
You can also find options for international cuisines, including African, Asian, and Middle Eastern restaurants. Ideally though, your goal for this trip is to do everything like a local, including choosing where to eat.
La Maison de Quartier is a community center that organizes various activities and events for residents and visitors.
Check their schedule to see if there are any workshops, exhibitions, or cultural events taking place during your visit. It’s an opportunity to engage with the local community and learn more about the neighborhood’s initiatives.
Best places to stay in Dervallières-Zola
Budget accommodation in Dervallières-Zola
- Appartement cosy et lumineux
- studio charmant et cosy refait à neuf
- La maison en bois
- Nice Studio 37 M For 2 Near Downtown
Mid range accommodation in Dervallières-Zola
- Bonzai by Cocoonr
- Le Verdoyant – Les Maisons de Madeleine
- Sérénité – 2 chambres – Calme et Verdure
- Loft d artiste au coeur du quartier Zola
Family Friendly accommodation in Dervallières-Zola
Erdre Porterie – Where to stay mear Nantes for Nature Lovers)
Why Stay in Erdre Porterie?
You’ll notice that Nantes is a labyrinth that’s not quite a city and not quite a remote village in the country.
The upside is that the community of Erdre Porterie adores the outdoors and is situated in a picturesque hub with natural attractions to keep them grounded with the earth.
Things to do in Erdre Porterie
The Parc de la Porterie is a wonderful way to start off your tour of Nantes’ natural landscape. After a brisk walk, enjoy a picnic on the grass, or find a bench to relax and soak in the surroundings.
Noticing how this is how the French prefer to spend their time? No complaints though, it sure beats fast food franchises. The park features trees, gardens, and a small lake, providing a tranquil escape from the city.
The Erdre River is a scenic waterway that runs through Nantes, including the Erdre Porterie neighborhood. Take advantage of the running and cycling paths along the riverbank to enjoy a scenic outdoor excursion.
The Erdre River is also a cool place to do water activities. Rent a canoe or kayak from one of the rental services in the area and embark on a paddling adventure. Navigate the river at your own pace, surrounded by a jungle-like atmosphere.
You’ll think you’re in an Agatha Christie novel after this trip. It’s a fantastic way to get closer to nature and experience Erdre Porterie from a different perspective.
The Erdre River and its surrounding habitats provide an ideal environment for birdwatching. Grab your binoculars and spot a variety of bird species that inhabit the area. Look out for ducks, herons, swans, and other waterfowl that frequent the river.
Consider joining a guided nature walk or tour in Erdre Porterie or the surrounding areas. Local nature organizations or tour operators may offer guided excursions that focus on the flora, fauna, and natural features of the region.
These knowledgeable guides can provide insights into the local ecosystem and help you discover hidden natural gems that the best travel guides don’t tell you about. But that’s the point, right? 😉
Best places to stay in Erdre Porterie
Budget accommodation in Erdre Porterie
- Cerise Nantes La Beaujoire
- B&B HOTEL Nantes Parc Expos La Beaujoire
- La Rivière House – Péniche Carpe Diem
- Ibis Nantes la Beaujoire Parc Expo
Mid range accommodation in Erdre Porterie
- Logis Beaujoire Hôtel
- Hôtel Inn Design Resto Novo Nantes Sainte Luce
- Quick Palace Nantes La Beaujoire
- Joli studio – Parking Privé – WIFI
Family Friendly accommodation in Erdre Porterie
- Séjours & Affaires Nantes La Beaujoire
- Zenitude Hôtel-Résidences Nantes – La Beaujoire
- Brit Hotel Nantes La Beaujoire – L’Amandine
Added Extra: Areas to Avoid in Nantes
The Malakoff neighborhood, located to the Northeast of the city center, has historically had higher crime rates compared to other areas in Nantes.
While the situation has improved in recent years due to urban redevelopment efforts, it is still recommended to be cautious, especially during late and early hours or when walking alone.
Similarly, Breil-Barberie, also had some issues with social tensions and crime in the past. Although efforts have been made to improve the neighborhood’s conditions, it is advised to remain vigilant, particularly in certain areas, and avoid walking alone at night.
Nantes is a magnifique French alternative that offers a lot more than what the eye can see. She may not look like much from the surface, but dig deep into her little crevices and you’ll experience the magic of what it truly feels like to be lost in a fairytale.
This Western French city is reminiscent of Beauty and the Beast (the setting, not the beast part). It exudes grace and charm without sweating the pompous luxury that often comes with the French capital. If a city was to be referenced as “down to earth”, Nantes would be it.
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