Nantes is a beautiful city, well worth a visit! I particularly recommend visiting it in July-August, which is when the yearly “Voyage à Nantes” takes place. In a nutshell the Voyage à Nantes is an artistic trail past temporary or permanent installations of public art works throughout the city of Nantes: a painted green line will guide you. Many events are organized around the Voyage à Nantes, but there’s lots to see and do in Nantes all year long really!
Les Machines de l’île & the Grand Elephant are a highlight
The artistic project of Les Machines de l’île is set on the site of Nantes’ former shipyards along the banks of the Loire river and seems to be inspired by the invented worlds of Jules Verne (who was born in Nantes), the mechanical universe of Leonardo da Vinci, and of Nantes’ industrial & maritime history.
I’m a big fan of the large 3-level “Carroussel des Mondes Marins” merry-go-round where you can choose to have a ride on the ground level on a sea creature from the seabeds, such as the Giant Crab, the Reverse Propulsion Squid, the Box Fish, etc. Or you can have a ride on the second level in the abyss, on the Deep-Sea Lanternfish, the Manta, etc. On the third level, aka on the sea surface, you can choose from the flying Fish, Nutshells, Jellyfish, etc. I think the creatures look wonderful & I love the fact that visitors have to actively operate the creatures while having a ride!
You can have a ride on the 12m high and realistic-looking mechanical Grand Elephant between the Carrousel des Mondes Marins and the warehouses. I’ve never had a ride on it, but I always enjoy seeing Nantes’ elephant!
Les Machines de l’île website: www.lesmachines-nantes.fr
Nantes is also a suitable destination for ice cream gourmets!
La Fraiseraie is in my opinion Nantes’ best stop for delicious ice cream! Their ice cream is produced 50km away from Nantes, in Pornic where their first shop opened in 1985. They have an excellent reputation in particular for their strawberry and red fruit sorbets: I can only confirm they deserve it!
They offer single flavour sorbets, as well as delicious marbled ice cream/sorbets: my two favourites are raspberry-coconut (I love the marbled effect!) and their “fraise des îles” sorbet made with strawberry, mango and passion fruit. The strawberry-mint sorbet is pretty good & refreshing too! I’ve tried their ice cream many times over the years, but I’ve unfortunately not tried all their flavours yet, since I can’t help myself from ordering 1 or 2 scoops of my favourite flavours when I’m there…
They now have 3 shops in Nantes:
La Fraiseraie – NANTES BOURSE
1 place de la bourse, F-44000 Nantes
La Fraiseraie – NANTES DECRÉ
13 rue de La Marne (across from Galeries Lafayette), F-44000 Nantes
La Fraiseraie – NANTES MACHINES (possibly only open during summer)
Close to the « Machines de l’Île », F-44000 Nantes
You can find all their addresses in the region on their website.