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5 Outings Near Nantes

An old port enclave on the banks of the river Loire, Nantes is now best known as Jules Verne’s hometown. It is one of those cities that always lives up to visitors’ expectations. So, too, does the following selection of places located in the vicinity of Brittany’s erstwhile capital, where you will get the chance to visit unique spots, have a whale of a time in the theme parks and explore villages redolent with history. Up for the adventure?

Marais Poitevin
Covering an area of 100,000 hectares and known as “The Green Venice”, the Marais Poitevin is a marshland traversed by the Sèvre Niortaise river before it flows into the Atlantic. It combines areas of dry marsh drained by man and wet marsh, part of which is channelled into navigable canals. Be sure to head for Arçais and Coulon, two of the most prominent communes in the area, where you can hire a boat or kayak to glide along the marsh waters. Or, if you prefer, you can hire a bike and ride along the bicycle paths criss-crossing this land, a natural gem situated just over an hour and a half from Nantes. Don’t miss out on it!

La Rochelle
From the 14th to the 17th century, La Rochelle was one of the leading ports in France and the point of departure for French settlers heading for Canada. Situated just two hours from Nantes, the first thing that strikes visitors to the city are its fortified towers, a throwback to a past marked by war. The Chain Tower and Saint Nicolas Tower once protected the old harbour; the Tower of the Lantern had the function of lighting it up and acting as a beacon for ships, while the Gothic Grosse Horloge or Clock Tower was the gateway into the old city. Another unusual feature of La Rochelle is that a large number of its buildings are made of limestone, prompting it to become known as the Ville Blanche or White City.

Ré Island
A 12-kilometre-long toll bridge joins La Rochelle to what is possibly one of the most picturesque spots on France’s west coast – Ré Island. Measuring 30 by 5 kilometres, the island is home to salt marshes, beaches, vineyards, bird-watching observatories and villages of irresistible charm and is blessed with a mild, pleasant climate for the area. The best way of exploring this fantastic island is by bicycle and, if you can afford to get here off season, you will avoid the crowds and the accommodation crunch (the drawback of any destination which is both beautiful and popular).

Poitiers
Poitiers, which lies about two and a half hours from Nantes, is a city charged with history which you should make a point of visiting. It was founded by a Celtic tribe known as the Pictones and built up by the Romans in the first century AD, later to become an important site in medieval times. Known for its host of churches, which are open to the public, the Church of Notre-Dame la Grande is among the most outstanding, featuring original, 12th-century frescoes in its interior. The best way to tour this city is by strolling through the streets in the old town, where you are bound to get carried away by the medieval atmosphere.

Futuroscope
This popular theme park lies just 10 kilometres north of Poitiers, with attractions based on cutting-edge cinema, audiovisual and robotic technologies. Your time at Futuroscope is sure to provide lots of entertainment and new sensations, and both adults and children will have fun here.

Book your Vueling to Nantes and get ready to enjoy these five locations in the city’s environs.

Text by Los Viajes de ISABELYLUIS

Images by TwoWings, Flavio Ensiki, Eric Pouhier, Erwan Deverre, Hamon jp