Discover our local Gay Nantes Guide and insiders’ recommendations, for best gay bars, beaches, clubs, restaurants, museums, monuments, shopping …
Nantes, Loire Region’s capital, had the reputation of being a pretty dull city.
However, it changed a lot during the last years.
Since it is only 2 hours from Paris with a speed train, it became a popular destination, attracting more and more French people who come to settle there and tourists who come to visit.
The city experienced its hour of glory in the 18th century when many shipowners were enriched, particularly by the dreadful slave trade.
The streets of the old town are dotted with elegant private mansions, very beautiful façades now renovated, balconies made of wrought iron.
Right in the center, the most spectacular concentration of XVIIIth century private mansions is located on “l’Ile Feydeau,” which ceased to be an island after the filling of some branches of the Loire river in 1930. Lawns now surround the “island.”
There are a few gay-friendly bars there.
At the foot of these beautiful buildings there is a large bunch of bars, restaurants and chic shops, which can keep you busy all afternoon.
The highlight of the walk in the old town is undoubtedly the Théâtre Graslin, built in 1788.
It is a splendid classical building with a very beautiful colonnade, sometimes decorated in the colors of the rainbow flag during the Gay Pride.
La Cigale, located just across the Square and created in 1895, is a Belle Époque restaurant and bar with a superb ancient design.
Stop for a drink there and enjoy its incredible decor made of mosaics, moldings, brass, and mirrors.
As you walk further into the pedestrian streets, you can admire the Château des Ducs de Bretagne and its seven towers.
The Gothic St. Peter and Paul’s Cathedral, is not the most impressive you will see in France, but it worth a visit.
You can spend part of your afternoon at the Musée des Beaux-Arts,
which was magnificently renovated a few years ago. It has a vast reserve and offers a complete panorama of Western painting from the 13th century to the present day.
The academic paintings and sculptures of the 18th and 19th centuries in France offer the usual soft porn,
with naked and muscular men and women everywhere smiling, fighting, dying, dancing, etc.
For some shopping, head for the sumptuous Pommeraye Passage,
a shopping mall built in 1843. It is without contest one of the most beautiful shopping centers in Europe.
It has an impressive flight of stairs, decorated with dozens of ancient statues. It’s like a shopping mall in Dubai, but much more stylish.
For a panoramic view of the city and its surroundings, climb on the rooftop of the monstrous Tour de Bretagne.
It is some sort of tribute to the architectural failures of the 1970s, when each provincial city wanted its tower to compete with Paris’ crappy Montparnasse tower.
From the bar called Le Nid, located on the 32nd floor,
you can have a drink in a slightly kitsch environment while admiring the City.
Further on, the redeveloped docks of the “Ile de Nantes” concentrate art galleries, avant-garde venues, and the city’s nightlife.
You will find for instance the Gallery of Machines which shows surrealist mechanical animals, such as an elephant and a giant spider.
These impressive works are inspired by the stories of the writer Jules Verne and the sketches of Leonardo da Vinci, two artists who lived for a very long time in the Loire Valley, and who are said to be gay.
Gay area in Nantes
Nantes offers many gay establishments.