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Birthplace of Jules Verne, Nantes was once the capital city of Brittany as well as its largest and most important town. Constructed upon the biggest of the Loire�s three islands, Nantes continues to thrive as a busy port. The city occupies the location where the rivers Erdre and Severn Nantaise meet the Loire and once benefited from its close proximity to the Atlantic Ocean for trading purposes. What was once an important eighteenth century port is today largely disguised by waterfront office blocks while all the tributaries and waterways have been built over. The Tour de Bretagne looms over the historic architecture that once added character to the city, so you need to leave no stone unturned when searching for more interesting features of the town.
Today Nantes is the capital city of the Pays de la Loire region but the locals still indulge their cultural roots with Brittany. It is said that the city has much more in common with the Loire Valley and its bounteous chateau landscape.
For ease of navigation, Nantes is divided into eleven districts. Nine of which are located on the right bank of the Loire, leaving one district on the Ile-de-Nantes island and another on the left bank.
A university city, Nantes can offer a lively nightlife and reasonably priced cafes and restaurants as well as lively bars which are never too far away from a �happy hour�. The city is recognised for its artistic crowd with ample opportunities to indulge in some contemporary fare from photography exhibitions to classical concerts, there is always something going on here. Science fiction fans will enjoy �Les Utopiales�, the international festival for science fiction fanatics. A more apt city for a host location could not be found, what with Nantes being the place of birth of its most famous author.
One of Nantes more important attractions, is that of the Chateau des Ducs de Bretagne. Dating back to the ninth century, the castle�s main purpose is to house a museum that encompasses the history of Nantes.
The fifteenth century Cathedral of St Pierre with its two towers, dominates the cobbled streets of the city. Unfinished until the 19th century, the sight of this major work in progress has always been the centre of attention.
Jules Verne, author of �Around the World in 80 Days�, �Journey to the Centre of the Earth� and many more was born in the town of Nantes in 1828. Today this fact is celebrated by inviting you to visit the �Museum of Jules Verne�. Packed with memorabilia of this great literary giant (yes, I am a big fan!), the museum pays homage to the inspiration behind his writings. All of the authors transcripts can be found at the City of Nantes Library. For those who need to experience a little more of what Nantes has to offer concerning its ancestor, why not visit his home at 4, Rue de Clisson. The house where once Jules Verne lived is now privately owned although the neighbourhood does offer a considerably comprehensive picture of nineteenth century life. The Ile-Feydeau is a treat to visit even if you are not a Verne fan.
With a number of museums to get round, one that should not be missed is that of the Musee des Beaux-Artes. Its collection includes 12th to 19th century paintings and sculpture and is considered to be one of France�s most interesting and provincial art galleries.
Another museum that comes highly recommended in Nantes, is that of the Musee Thomas-Dobree. The private collection exhibited here is broad as it is substantial. Fifteenth century paintings, art from India, religious antiquities and works by some of the great masters are all housed under this one 19th century neo-Romanesque mansion�s roof.
While sightseeing in Nantes, ensure that you get the best possible value for money by purchasing the Carte Nantes Decourvertes. This enables visitors to the city free admission, transport and discounts on entry to a number of tourist attractions as well as souvenirs. The cost is 14 euros during the peak season.
A mere half hour�s drive from St Malo, lively and cosmopolitan Rennes is at your fingertips. The capital of the north western region of Brittany and the capital of rock music, Rennes is perched upon a hill and found where two rivers, Ille and Vilaine collide.
To the north of the Vilaine River, around the Places des Lices, Rennes is beautifully be-jewelled by the dazzling architectural delights of the medieval. An intriguing place to wander and enjoy, expect to find chic bars, boutiques and half timber buildings.
Popular attractions around town include the Foret de Paimport and the Chateau de Combourg (once the home of Chateaubriand) and the Musee Emanuel art museum. Rennes also enjoys exceptional location for touring with beautiful countryside on its doorstep.
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Nantes Atlantique Airport is approximately 12 kilometres from the centre of town.
If travelling by road, Nantes Airport is very easy to reach. Within close proximity of the Ring Road it is reached via the Porte de Grand-Lieu interchange and is only ten minutes away from the centre of town.
A 25 minute journey by shuttle bus from the airport to Nantes railway station costs 6 euros. The Tan Air shuttle bus runs according to the flight schedule. Efficiently linked to the tram and bus services, the stops on way include Vincent-Gache Boulevard, Commerce Square and the Cite des Congres Convention Centre before stopping at the south service train station.
Taxis are available from the airport and cost 24 euros.
The TGV express train reaches Nantes from Paris (Gare Montparnasse) within two and a half hours. This is pretty efficient considering other trains take in excess of five hours to reach Nantes from the same station. The price of a ticket costs 63 euros.