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European City Breaks: Nantes Cycle Route

France's sixth largest city happens to also be the world's seventh most bicycle friendly. Sitting where the Eurovelo 1 and 6 routes cross, Nantes make a fantastic stop on any cycling trip and is a great place to explore on two wheels two. 

This route, an adaptation of a famous pedestrian route called 'Le voyage de Nantes', is not so much about cycling but what you can see. Get ready for for beautiful art installations and architectural marvels.

 


 

Quick Facts 

Highlights

 The Machines on the Isle of Nantes

Length

10 km

Terrain

Flat tarmac roads and cycle paths. Some busy roads. 

Difficulty

When

Anytime, but take a waterproof because the Brittany weather is very rainy!

How to get there

International flights to Nantes Airport, two hours by train from Paris Montparnasse

Which bike

Nantes has city bikes - Bicloo - and you can buy a day pass for those

Why

It's a beautiful, relaxed city. Lots of art and architecture along the route

 


 

The Cycle Route 

 

This is a very short, very flat loop of central Nantes. Victor would recommend making a day of it and stopping at each monument along the way, or doing a quick loop on your first morning in the city to get your bearings. Whichever you choose, finish up at La Cigale for lunch or dinner. 

The Castle of the Dukes of Brittany

Nantes is now part of the Pays de la Loire but the fact that it ended up in the Loire and not Brittany is still a point of contention. Its former status as part of Brittany also explains how this castle ended up in the centre of the city.

Dating back to the 13th century the site was, in the 16th century home to the last duke of independent Brittany before it was integrated into France in 1532. By 1924 it was a museum, before becoming a Nazi bunker during the French Occupation. Not a bad place to start this loop and brush up on some French history!

Hop on a bike here and head south onto the island. 

 

The Machines of the Isle of Nantes

Stop off in the fantasy world that is 'Les Machines de l'ile' and see incredible mechanical marine creatures, climb the Heron Tree, or ride aboard the Great Elephant. This place is cool and surreal in equal measure. 

Jules Verne Museum

Perhaps the city's most famous export, the author of 'Around the World in 80 Days' has a museum dedicated to him here. Strike out westwards from the Machines if you would like to pay a visit and delve into the inspiration behind Phileas Fogg's extraordinary adventure. 

 

Jardin des Plantes

 The Jardin des Plantes is a beautiful place for a wander once you arrive on the east side of Nantes. It now also plays host to Claude Ponti's cartoon characters - a marvel if you happen to be a big fan of topiary. 

Tour de Bretagne

Arrive back in the centre of Nantes late afternoon and head up Nantes' tallest building for a beautiful sunset view. The building itself is not much of a looker but a clear day makes it worth a trip to the rooftop bar! 

 

La Cigale

La Cigale has a lovely terrace to enjoy summer weather but it is the inside, and its beautiful mosaic walls, that is really special. Make sure that you pop your head in! Otherwise, go for the filet mignon. 


You don't have to be riding a long way or particularly quickly but, if you are missing your wheels from home, there is always a way to work a bike into your holiday. 



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