On the river Loire
Nantes has the distinctive feature of being located being between river and sea. The entire layout of the city, which was once referred to as the “Venice of the West,” and its very unique atmosphere, is a result of the Loire – the most visited river in Europe, along with the Danube – and its tributaries. The estuary of the Loire is a remarkable natural space at the intersection of two bird migration paths, and is home to nearly 200 protected animal species. Upstream, the historical wealth of the Loire Valley and its castles is breathtaking (Château de Chenonceau and Château de Chambord, to name only two). Further along, between Nantes and Saint-Nazaire, right until the ocean 60 km (37 mi.) away, the river becomes more pristine, lined with remarkable landscapes that slowly transforms into an open-air museum made up of 30 contemporary artworks by renowned artists, mixing nature, art and industry.
Estuaire Nantes <> Saint-Nazaire itinerary
From Nantes to Saint-Nazaire, the Estuaire itinerary stretches over 120 kilometers (75 mi.) of the Loire estuary and presents 30 contemporary artworks by internationally renowned artists, like Daniel Buren and Patrick Bouchain, Ange Leccia, Huang Yong Ping (Monumenta 2016), François Morellet, Felice Varini, Roman Signer, Tatzu Nishi, and more.
Each work guides viewers to a unique place or remarkable site of the estuary, where fragile natural reserves sit next to gigantic industrial buildings. Together, they create an open-air museum in the heart of a fascinating territory that one can discover all year long on foot, by bike, or by car – and, from April to September, by cruise.
Cruise down the Loire
The estuary of the Loire River like you’ve never seen it!
Different cruise options allow you to sail away from Nantes to discover the natural wealth and incredible architectural heritage of the Loire estuary. Drifting down to the ocean, this fluvial stroll offers a unique perspective on the villages lining the river banks, an incredibly rich flora and fauna, and an immersion in the general and industrial history of one of the most beautiful estuaries in the world. And, let’s not forget the artworks of the Estuaire itinerary that dialogue with the different landscapes!
On board, a guide offers insights on the places, with their stories and their challenges.
Musical cruises by night
From the Loire to the beach
From Nantes, the 60 kilometres (37 mi.) of the Loire estuary act as a gentle transition towards the ocean and the Atlantic coast. 1 hour from Nantes, you will find the vast expanses of beaches in La Baule, Pornichet and Saint-Brevin-les-Pins, or to the South, the more intimate coves of Pornic. Surfers will not be disappointed in Saint-Nazaire (La Courance), Préfailles, or even Batz-sur-mer (La Govelle), where popular spots for absolute beginners and confirmed experts await them.
Loire by bike
If you’re interested in green and eco-responsible tourism, discover the Loire by bike! Everything has been planned for you to fully enjoy the beauty of the most widely visited river in Europe: protected itineraries or refurbished roads, specifically designed maps and signs, specialized “accueil vélo” reception areas, or elements of heritage that are not to be missed… There are 1,001 reasons to see Nantes and its surrounding region by bike! Prepare your trip on the Loire à vélo site for the Pays de la Loire region.
The Nantes-Tourisme bike welcome stand at: 9 rue des Etats à Nantes, the tourism office labelled “Accueil Vélo.”
The Loire Valley is the third largest AOC (Protected Designation of Origin) wine-growing region in France, part of which is classified as a World Heritage site by Unesco, and is one of the most sought-after destinations in Europe.
In the downstream section of the Loire, lining the metropolitan region of Nantes, right until the ocean, vineyards shape the landscape with the three flagship AOC’s: muscadet (Coteaux-de-la-Loire, Côtes-de-Grandlieu, Sèvre-et-Maine, and its crus Clisson, Gorges, Le Pallet), the Gros Plant du Pays Nantais and the Coteaux-d’Ancenis.
The array widens in the IGP (Protected Geographical Indication) Val de Loire, with its elegant rosés and supple reds, and the traditionally crafted “bulles nantaises” (“Nantes bubbly”).