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5 things to do with your children in Nantes

By Valentina Besana – Be Road

I’ve been to Nantes for 48 hours with my partner in life and our son who is just over two years old. This lovely town in the Loire offers a variety of fun things to do that respond to the requirements of both adults and children.

1. Isle de la Machine

A unique museum that will charm parents and children of all ages. This cultural project is based on the merging of the fantastic worlds imagined by Jules Verne (author of “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea” and “Around the World in 80 Days”, born in Nantes), Leonardo da Vinci’s mechanical universe and Nantes’ industrial history.
One of the most striking features of the exhibit is the huge mechanical elephant that moves around in the museum and on which it is possible to take half-hour tours, though I think it is just as interesting to watch it stroll around from the ground. Oh, be careful about getting too close to the elephant because it sprays water from its trunk and you might end up taking an unexpected shower! Inside the museum there are other mechanical animals built with much attention to detail: caterpillars, birds, and a variety of insects…

Also fascinating is the great “marine world merry-go-round” located outside (soaring a good 25 meters from the ground) on which you can ride together with your children. Facing the museum is a play-ground with swings and slides. Located on the shores of the Loire river in the former dockyard area, the museum is just a quick street car (number 1) ride away from the town center and can also be easily reached with a lovely walk.

If you get hungry, rather than having a snack at the museum’s café that doesn’t have much to offer, my suggestion is to walk a little further to the area called “Hangar à Bananes” where there are several café’s offering delicious crepes and cakes.

2. Historic town center with chocolates and wooden toys

Strolling through Nantes’ beautiful historic town center is very pleasant and can be done entirely by foot. I recommend a walk in the car free street Rue de Verdan, where you will find a distinctive Boulangerie (“Boulangerie Simon”, at number 19) where you can purchase a healthy snack for your children, and just a few steps away at number 23, a typical French chocolaterie that will put you in a good mood (Lambert Chocolaterie). Those who fancy shopping for design baby attire should not miss “Drom”, a gorgeous store at number 31 of Rue de Verdan, selling beautiful romper suits, dresses and all sorts of accessories.
And if your children are bored, facing the clothing store is the “Le Bonhomme de Bois”, a wonderful toy store full of original ideas and wooden toys.

3. Chateau des Ducs de Bretagne

Beautiful medieval – renaissance style castle built between the XIII and XVI centuries. As daylight begins to fade, the facade glows with lovely light shows. During the day it is possible to take a tour inside the castle, but it is also nice just to walk around in the courtyard, look down into the great well and feed the many ducks that have made a home in the area. The castle is in the center, not far from the Bouffay neighborhood, the ideal place to get something to eat (point 5)

4. Le Nid, aperitif with a view

This is not a place specifically for children, but our son liked it. It’s on the last floor (thirty second) of the Brittany Tower, with a breathtaking 360° view of the city. The name of the place is not a simple coincidence – inside there is a large sculpture of a stork and egg-shaped chairs that are much admired by the younger guests. Here I suggest you enjoy the view and have something to drink, but not to eat: we tasted the bagels that they serve… icy cold!

5. Sweet and salty crepes in Bouffay

Going abroad with children and deciding what to get for them to eat might be quite difficult. But what can be better than a delicious crepe? It’s a balanced and nourishing dish stuffed to your choosing. In Nantes the mix used for salty crepes is made with buckwheat flour (they are called Gallettes), which are therefore darker than we are used to seeing them but just as delicious. Sweet crepes are made with the traditional mix, are very thin and can also be stuffed in any way you want.There are very many Creperie’s in the Bouffay neighborhood within Nantes’ city center, and it isn’t easy to chose one. We happened to stop at the Creperie Jaune by chance and were very happy with the choice.

By Valentina Besana – Be Road

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