7 Free and Amazing Things to Do in Nantes, France

Nantes is a beautiful and vibrant city in the western France, close to the Atlantic coast. It is full of history, contemporary art and galleries. Definitely a great weekend getaway with friends.

Here are my 7 tips to do and stuff to enjoy in Nantes, for free!

1. Les Machines de L’ile

The machine complex was built in former docks, where the ships of wealthy companies have been trading slaves from Africa. Nowadays it serves as a crossroads of Jules Verne’s “invented worlds” a mechanical universe of Leonardo da Vinci.

The biggest attraction is a 12-meter robotic elephant from the Jules Verne book. The elephant blinks, walks, makes noises, and in unexpected moments spits water out of his trunk. You can actually hop on and enjoy a ride through the docks or just admire its greatness from the ground for free.

And if you don’t mind spending some cash, there is a Gallery of Mechanical Animals within one of the great halls. Visiting the hall itself is free.

2. Jardin des Plantes

This incredible botanical garden is known for its wide range of bird species as well as artistic creations out of bushes or flower pots. You can enjoy a walk through the park, feed and pet some goats or have a cup of coffee with friends in a small hot house.

3. Chateau des Ducs de Bretagne

The chateau’s courtyard is free to enter so is the walk around the rampart. It has some great views of the city centre.

If you wish to visit inside of the chateau and its museum and temporary exhibitions, you will have to pay admission of €8.

5. Le lieu unique

This place is an old biscuit factory that now serves as a gallery. You can also find a bookstore, restaurant and a bar inside.

6. Passage Pommeraye

Passage Pommeraye is one of the most beautiful shopping malls in the world. Just take a stroll around and enjoy its architecture.

7. Basilique Saint Nicolas

Beautiful gothic cathedral right at the top of the city. To enter the church is free of charge.

How to get to the city centre from airport?

Easiest and cheapest way to get to the city centre is by bus. You can choose a bus shuttle line called Navette Aéroport that takes about 20 minutes and goes straight to the city. The ticket costs €8.50. If you want to save money and don’t mind taking the longer route, hop on the bus to Neustrie (only 5 minutes from the airport). Then change to tram no.3, that is just in front of the bus station and go to Commerce, which is the most central station in Nantes. This journey takes around 40 minutes but will cost you only €2.00

7 Free and Amazing Things to Do in Nantes

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  • Always love lists of free things to do! Thanks for sharing! I haven’t been there before but would definitely like to visit. It’s always useful for budget travelers that want to visit but also conscious about spending loads of money!


  • I can’t believe I did not spend more time visiting Nantes although I went to Brittany almost every year during my childhood. I drove past it many times, but never stopped for a proper tourist visit. I’ve seen the castles and partied in a few bars… and that’s it! Now I’m 15,000km away… and you make me want to check out all these other places I missed! I didn’t even know about the machine complex, and it sounds like an interesting visit…