Nantes is a city that prides itself on its originality. With a population of 630,000 and 100,000 new residents expected by 2030, it is one of France’s fastest-growing cities. Once sleepy, the city has been transformed into a thriving tourist destination over the past 30 years thanks to the work of the Nantes Metropole. Art has taken centre stage, and the Voyage à Nantes — a 12km ‘scattered monument’ trail — has played a vital role in the city’s renaissance.
Offering accessible tourism all year long
A creative energy pulses through the city, drawing in a host of new tourists. Over the last six summer seasons, overnight stays in Nantes have increased by 77%. A proactive approach to accessibility led to a European Access City Award in 2013, as Nantes honed in on two main objectives: promoting universal accessibility and building an inclusive society. More than two-thirds of all city-owned visitor sites were accessible by the end of 2016, while 100% of trams and rapid transit buses, and 88% of regular buses, were accessible to visitors with reduced mobility. Added to that, museum entrance is free for people with disabilities (as well as under 18s) while the Voyage à Nantes route is lined by 50 helpers ready to provide assistance.
In 1985 Nantes became the first French city to reintroduce a modern tram system, and it has continued to lead the way with cycle paths, water buses, carpooling and bike-sharing schemes. The city contains more than 100 parks and gardens for tourists to wander through, and it is committed to creating more space for cycling and walking. Nantes is also a stopover on two EuroVello routes, while the Voyage a Nantes has created itineraries to allow visitors to explore the delights — nature reserves, vineyards, towns and beaches — beyond the city limits.
The combination of tech culture, artistic energy and inventiveness has fostered an atmosphere conducive to development in Nantes. Visitors to the city can take advantage of useful native apps, such as Nantes dans ma poche, which allows residents and tourists to plan their journey on public transport or check parking availability in real time. In 2019, a new heritage website will come online that aims to become a living, breathing encyclopaedia powered by user collaboration.