The last major city on the Loire before that river flows into the Atlantic Ocean, Nantes is an industrial city with split allegiances. It looks both north-west towards Brittany (of which it was once a part) and east up the Loire Valley towards Anjou. Nantes is a lively place, its central area boasting elegant boulevards and an especially attractive riverfront, where old schooners recall the days when Nantes was a jumping-off point for trade with the Caribbean. You’ll never go wrong with a night or two in Nantes, but it’s probably not the spot to choose for a week’s holiday.
The main station, simply called the Gare de Nantes, dates from the late 1960s. No marks for charm, but it’s practical and efficient. TGVs for Paris leave every hour, the fastest dashing to the French capital in just 2 hrs 5 mins. There are also direct TGV services from Nantes to Le Mans, Lille, Marseille, Strasbourg and Charles de Gaulle Airport near Paris.
For travellers wanting to explore rural France by slower trains, Nantes is a major hub for such services. There are regional or Intercités services from Nantes direct to Bourges, Bordeaux, La Rochelle, Lyon, Tours and Toulouse. You’ll also find plenty of trains leaving Nantes for Brittany with direct services to Rennes, Lorient and Quimper. Nantes itself is 50 kilometres inland from the Atlantic, but it is just a short hop to the coast on local services to Pornic and Saint-Gilles.
Travel to Nantes by train from anywhere in the UK or across Europe
Avg 1 change 5hr 31m