Have you ever wanted to visit France? Or maybe you have already been there and plan for another visit and are not sure of where in France. Then maybe this post will guide you a small step on the way. Eight reasons to choose Nantes instead of Paris as your destination.
1. People are nicer and more friendly in Nantes
Before going to Paris everyone warned me about how unfriendly and rude Parisians are supposed to be. I did not really find it so, but they were still not that outgoing and I was almost run over twice just walking from the train station to my hotel. People in Nantes on the other hand was more friendly and helpful in every way.
Part of it I think are due to point number five down below, much less tourist in Nantes. A large part are also due to the average age in Nantes that are significantly lower than Paris and France as a nation.
When I visited Nantes I was lucky enough to do it in the same weekend as Nantes Pride Parade. Not surprising then that the young crowd was even larger and friendlier during those days.
2. Four words: Enormous walking steampunk elephant!
What can I say? This is unique and a must see. Especially if you have kids or are playful yourself regardless of your age.
Go for a walk and find your way onto Île de Nantes, that island in the middle of the Loire River. There you will find Les Machines de l’île de Nantes with several mechanical contraptions inspired by steampunk and Jules Vernes books. You know, Jules Verne was born in Nantes, visit the museum about his life and books when you are in Nantes!
Back to the mechanical elephant. It is 12 meters high and 8 wide. It weighs just under 50 metric tons and walks around at a slow pace. If you are not careful you might get water blown on you from the elephants trunk.
There are also lots of other stuff to see in the area. But the one muse see is the elephant.
3. Nantes is closer to nature
I am the first to confess that I did find some green places in Paris. For example Champ de Mars, Le Jardin de Luxembourg and Jardin des Tuileries. But really not much more than concrete along the Seine. I’d even call Paris boring from a nature-perspective. For some real nature you will probably have to get pretty far by public transport.
On the other hand I found Nantes much more impressive. Smaller parks like Jardin des Plantes, L’île de Versailles and Parc de Beaulieu. But also larger like Parc Floral Roseraie and Par de la Chantrerie. Mostly the nice walk along the Loire and Edre rivers. Beautiful nature and easy accessible. Nantes also have a nice webpage for all parks and gardens.
You can also rent a boat at L’Île de Versailles and go for a romantic trip along the river. And if you are a little more crazy – which I was not – you can join a group for paddle yoga at sunset or sunrise. I didn’t want to take the risk to fall in and get wet!
4. The weather are better in Nantes
Paris are more inland while Nantes is located almost on the Atlantic coast, this makes a huge different for the weather. The summers in Paris are slightly hotter than in Nantes, I’ll give you that. But the warm season are far warmer in Nantes, spring and autumn milder and winter far warmer. The coldest months of the year in Nantes are no colder than April in Paris. That’s a large difference! I would consider visiting Paris from May to September while Nantes all from April to October.
During summer there will also be twice as much rain in April than in Nantes. But it will be as cloudy in Nantes as in Paris.
Much less rain and longer seasons makes an easy choice.
5. There are less tourists in Nantes
Well, this one is obvious. Nantes is not the most popular place to visit, for reasons I have a hard time understanding. Most have asked me why I would choose Nantes at all. It was by chance really, the ticket was really cheap and it could be interesting, and I was very pleasantly surprised. So much less tourists.
Nantes is France 6:th largest city, but comes far down when it comes to number of tourists and are not that often mentioned in lists over places to visit in France.
I’ll get back to you later to what you should not miss when visiting Nantes. That is a topic for another post.
6. Nantes is not as stressful
Less people, less tourists leads to less stress. I do not like large crowds, and large crowds that move fast is even worse. Paris is crowdy, in some places extremely crowdy. The only part of my trip to Nantes where there was a large crowd was the pride parade, and that was ok.
7. Nantes has a much cleaner feeling
Clean vs. dirty is as much a feeling as it is stuff littering all around the streets. And that feeling of cleanliness are important.
To me Paris felt dirty. It was gray, boring, stuff littering in places, a little graffiti – but not to much – just not a good feeling. I was also living in one of the worse of areas, Belleville. Not really bad, but not good either. There is something with to large cities that I am not comfortable. I had the same feeling in Berlin for example, and even more in Naples. But not Vienna or Milan.
And definitely not in Nantes. Nantes has its historical center with old beautiful buildings, a respectable cathedral and de fabulous Château des ducs de Bretagne. It also has a much more modern part with a focus on Île de Nantes with lots of beautiful modern architecture. The whole city gave of a vibe of safety and cleanliness that I just loved.
8. Nantes is cheaper
Not a big surprise here either. But what surprised me are the large difference. For the same cost per night I got in Paris a small room in a hotel in a pretty bad area and in Nantes a nice room near the city center in the middle of the commercial district. For Nantes I choose Séjours & Affaires Nantes Ducs De Bretagne, and it is a place I would recommend as a budget hotel in Nantes. The food was also cheaper and entrance to different activities.
Another point to Nantes is that most activities was to a large extent marketed to locals and did because of that not have the same touristy vibe.
Would I visit Paris again? Probably not.
Would I visit Nantes again? Oh yes! And then plan for a trip through the Loire vineyards or a cruise to the Atlantic Ocean close by. Maybe include a daytrip to Rennes or one of the close by national parks for a hike.