Three Days in Nantes: Your France Rugby World Cup Itinerary

Three Days in Nantes: Your France Rugby World Cup Itinerary

Visiting Nantes for the France Rugby World Cup 2023? This host city is not only home to Stade de la Beaujoire, where four of the pool matches will be held; it’s also a cultural hub with a scenic setting along the Loire and Erdre Rivers. Plan a few days before or after match day to experience Nantes and follow our insider tips to take in all the highlights.

Your France Rugby World Cup Itinerary: Nantes

Day 1: Old Town and the Île de Nantes

It’s impossible to get lost on a walking tour of Nantes—all of the city’s key sites are linked together along the 22km ‘Voyage à Nantes’ route, marked out by a green line that runs from neighbourhood to neighbourhood. You can walk or cycle the entire route, stopping to admire the art installations and exhibitions along the way, or use it to guide you to nearby sights (download the map and guide here).

Start by walking the ramparts of the Château des Ducs de Bretagne, take a peek at the 19th-century Saint-Pierre Cathedral, then stroll through the atmospheric Old Town. Stop by the landmark LU tower, then continue to Place Royale and Place Graslin, where the Art Nouveau restaurant La Cigale is a popular spot for lunch.

In the afternoon, cross over to the Île de Nantes, the island at the meeting point of the Loire and Erdre Rivers, where you’ll find the city’s star attraction—Les Machines de l’Îles. Time your visit to watch the 12-meter-tall mechanical Elephant make its 30-minute tour of the island (you could also book a ride onboard), take a ride on the fantastical Marine Worlds Carousel, then head inside the Machines Gallery to learn more about the unique project and have a go at operating some of the mechanical creatures.

Day 2: Match Day Sightseeing

Nantes’ creative spirit is on display in the Jardin des Plants, where bold art installations dot the botanical gardens. Enjoy a morning stroll through the gardens before heading to the Musée de Beaux Arts (Fine Arts Museum) to browse the exhibitions, which include works by Rodin, Delacroix, and Monet.

The Bouffay district of the Old Town is crammed with bars, restaurants, and bistros, making it the ideal spot for a pre-match lunch. Afterwards, swing by the elegant 19th-century shopping arcade Passage Pommeraye to pick up some handmade pastries or chocolates.

After the match, celebrate with a cocktail at the riverside Hangar à Bananes (Banana Warehouse) along the illuminated waterfront of the Île de Nantes. There are around a dozen different bars, restaurants, and entertainment venues to choose from, making it the ultimate venue for a post-match pub crawl.

Day 3: Food Tasting and River Cruise

Every day (except Monday) is market day at the Marché de Talensac, Nantes’ largest market, where you can browse the 160 stalls and sample regional specialities such as Curé Nantais cheese and Gâteau Nantais (rum and almond flavoured tarts).

In the afternoon escape the city for the surrounding countryside. Rent a boat from Versailles Island (Ile de Versailles) and cruise along the Erdre River, or join a wine tasting tour and head to the vineyards to sample Nantes’ famous Muscadet wines.

Further afield, the Loire-Atlantique coast is dotted with fishing towns, coastal walks, and sandy beaches, or you could take a road trip to the famous Mont Saint-Michel, the island monastery marooned off the coast of Normandy.

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