|This article may be expanded with text translated from the corresponding article in the French Wikipedia. (July 2012)|
|Traditional flag||Coat of arms|
|Region||Pays de la Loire|
|Canton||Chief town of 11 cantons|
|Mayor||Patrick Rimbert (PS)
|Land area1||65.19 km2 (25.17 sq mi)|
|Population2||284,970 (2010 census)|
|- Ranking||6th in France|
|- Density||4,371 /km2 (11,320 /sq mi)|
|Urban area||524.6 km2 (202.5 sq mi) (2008)|
|- Population||580,502 (2007)|
|Metro area||2,242.6 km2 (865.9 sq mi) (1999)|
|- Population||873,133 (2010)|
|Time zone||CET (GMT +1)|
|INSEE/Postal code||44109/ 44000, 44100, 44200 and 44300|
|1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km² (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.|
|2 Population without double counting: residents of multiple communes (e.g., students and military personnel) only counted once.|
Nantes (French pronunciation: [nɑ̃t]) (Breton: Naoned, Gallo: Naunnt) is a city in West France, located on the Loire River, 50 km (31 mi) from the Atlantic coast. The city is the 6th largest in France, while its metropolitan area ranks 8th with over 800,000 inhabitants.
Nantes, labeled art and history city, is the capital city of the Pays de la Loire region and the Loire-Atlantique département and also the largest city in the Grand-Ouest (North western France). Together with Vannes, Rennes and Carhaix, it was one of the major cities of the historic province of Brittany, and the ancient Duchy of Brittany. Though officially separated from Brittany in 1789, Nantes is culturally Breton and still widely regarded as its capital city.
In 2004, Time described Nantes as "the most liveable city in Europe". In 2010, Nantes was named a hub city for innovation in the Innovation Cities Index by innovation agency, 2thinknow. The city was ranked 36th globally from 289 cities and 4th overall in France, behind Paris, Lyon and Strasbourg for innovation across multiple sectors of the economy. As of 2013, Nantes holds the title of European Green Capital for its efforts to reduce air pollution and CO2 emissions, for its high quality and well-managed public transport system and for its biodiversity with 3,366 hectares of green spaces and several Natura 2000 zones which guarantee a protection of nature in the area.
The name Nantes, pronounced [nɑ̃t] in French, derives from that of its pre-Roman-era inhabitants, the Gaulish tribe known as the Namnetes, who founded a town there around 70 BC. The city was called Portus Namnetum during the Roman occupation that began in 56 BC. The inhabitants of Nantes are known in French as Nantais ([nɑ̃tɛ]).
Nantes' most common nickname is the Venice of the West (French: La Venise de l'Ouest, Breton: Venezia ar C'hornôg), a name owing to its position on the river delta of the Loire, the Erdre, and the Sèvre.
Prehistory and Antiquity
Although there are very few prehistoric archaeological finds in Nantes and its surrounding area (in contrast to numerous ancient remains on the Breton coast), it seems the ancient population was based around mining communities in the north of the current town. During the Gallic period the area belonged to the Namnetes, who were conquered by Julius Caesar in 56 BC. The Romans Latinised the town's name to Condevincum, or Condevicnum, and under Roman rule it became an administrative centre. In the 3rd century it was renamed Portus Namnetum, and during this period a Gallo-Roman surrounding wall was constructed to fend off Saxon invasion; the remains can still be seen today. Nantes was Christianised during this period, and its first bishops took office after the conversion of Constantine the Great.
After the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476, the city rapidly came under the control of Clovis I despite resistance from the Roman garrison of Breton soldiers. During the Frankish period, the town played an essential role in halting Breton expansion from the Armorican peninsula. It became the capital of the 'Breton March' during the reign of Charlemagne; the territory was initially under the dominion of his nephew, Roland, who was given the title of 'Prefect of the Breton March'.
After Charlemagne's death, Breton expansion intensified. In 850, the region was conquered by Nominoë, the ruler of Brittany, who invaded, among others, the towns of Nantes and Rennes. The following year, in the aftermath of the Battle of Jengland, the Breton March, with Nantes as its capital, was integrated into Brittany by the Treaty of Angers. The subsequent eighty years, however, were made difficult by the constant infighting between the Breton warlords, who promoted Viking invasions, the most spectacular of which took place on 24 June 843 and resulted in the death of Bishop Gohard of Nantes. The Chronicle of Nantes recounts that, during this period, "The city of Nantes remained for many years deserted, devastated and overgrown with briars and thorns." From 919 to 937, the town was managed by the Vikings, who were defeated by Alain Barbe-Torte, the grandson of Alan the Great, the last king of Brittany.
The Wars of Succession
In the subsequent period, the Dukes of Brittany fought against the Counts of Nantes. These succession feuds resulted from time to time in Nantes passing under the sovereignty of the house of Anjou. The longest of these periods began in 1156 and lasted 45 years, representing a period of stability. In 1203 Brittany came under the dominion of the Capetians, the French monarchy, and under Peter I, Duke of Brittany Nantes enjoyed a resurgence when the Duke made the town his principal residence.
The Second Breton War of Succession pitted the supporters of two different claimants against one another: those of the half-brother of the deceased John III, Duke of Brittany, Jean de Montfort, who relied on the Estates of Brittany who gathered in Nantes, and those of Charles I, Duke of Brittany, who was supported by King Philippe VI of France and was recognized as Duke of Brittany by the peers of the kingdom. The De Montfort dynasty emerged victorious from the conflict, and it made Nantes an impressive capital of the duchy. During the 15th century the town developed, largely due to its maritime and river-based trade.
At the end of the 16th century, Nantes was of great strategic importance in the war between the King of France and Francis II, Duke of Brittany. The city was conquered in 1488, from which point Brittany was governed by the kings of France. The heir to the duchy, Anne of Brittany, married Charles VIII of France in 1491, and then Louis XII of France, making her Queen of France. At her death in 1514, she bequeathed her heart to the town of Nantes (currently in the Dobrée museum). Claude of France, the eldest daughter of Anne of Brittany, donated the duchy to her husband Francis I of France, but the Estates of Brittany themselves requested the union of Brittany and France in exchange for the continuation of their privileges, which ushered in the next period.
Early Modern Period and after
When the Duchy of Brittany was united to the kingdom of France in 1532 by the Treaty of Plessis-Macé, Nantes kept the Parliament of Brittany for a few years before it was moved to Rennes. In 1598, King Henry IV of France signed the Edict of Nantes here, which granted Protestants rights to their religion.
During the 18th century, prior to abolition of slavery, Nantes was the slave trade capital of France. This kind of trade led Nantes to become the largest port in France and a wealthy city. In 1754 the ship Saint-Phillipe, owned by the Nantes based Jogue brothers crossed the middle passage with 462 slaves in 25 days, whereas vessels earlier in the century would often take up to nine months. Nantes remained the principal slave port until the 1780s. Even after the official end of the slave trade in 1818, the trade continued. Over the next 13 years, 305 expeditions are recorded as having left from Nantes docks for the African coast. When the French Revolution broke out, Nantes chose to be part of it, although the whole surrounding region soon degenerated into an open civil war against the new republic known as the War in the Vendée. On 29 June 1793 the town was the site of a Republican victory in this war. The Loire was also the site of thousands of executions by drowning.
In the 19th century, Nantes became an industrial city. The first public transport anywhere may have been the omnibus service initiated in Nantes in 1826. It was soon imitated in Paris, London and New York. The first railways were built in 1851 and many industries were created. In 1940, the city was occupied by German troops. In 1941, the assassination of a German officer, Lt. Col. Fritz Hotz, caused the retaliatory execution of 48 civilians. The city was twice severely bombed by American forces, on 16 and 23 August 1943, before being liberated by the Americans in 1944.
Until the 1970s, Nantes' harbour was located on the Île de Nantes, when it was moved to the very mouth of the Loire River, at Saint-Nazaire. In the subsequent 20 years, many service sector organisations moved into the area, but economic difficulties forced most of these to close. In 2001, a major redevelopment scheme was launched, the goal of which is to revitalise the island as the new city centre.
In 2003, the French weekly L'Express voted Nantes to be the "greenest city" in France, while in both 2003 and 2004 it was voted the "best place to live" by the weekly Le Point. In August 2004, TIME designated Nantes as "the most livable city in all of Europe."
Nantes is located on the banks of the Loire River, at the confluence of the Erdre and the Sèvre Nantaise, 55 km (35 mi) from the Atlantic Ocean. The city was built in a place where many branches of the Loire river created several islands, but most of those branches were filled in at the beginning of the 20th century (and the confluence with the Erdre river diverted and covered) due to the increasing car traffic.
Nantes is the central point of the land hemisphere (the half of the earth containing the largest possible area of land).
About 50 kilometres from the coast, Nantes has generally cool winters and mild summers, with rainfalls at least every week, which makes Nantes a temperate city, though winters can bring freezing temperatures and occasional hot spells in summer, especially during the month of July.
The Nantes metropolitan area (Nantes Métropole) is the intercommunal structure connecting the city of Nantes with nearby suburbs. It had a 1999 population of 554,478, 48.7% of which comprised the city of Nantes. The current mayor of Nantes is Patrick Rimbert, (PS), elected on 29 June 2012 to replace long-serving mayor Jean-Marc Ayrault, who had become Prime Minister of France.
Since 1995, Nantes has been divided into 11 neighbourhoods, each resembling a historic city quarter. Each of these neighbourhoods is controlled by a Comité Consultatif (Consultative Committee), comprising directly elected officials and a team of municipal members, similar to a New England board of selectmen. These neighbourhoods are:
Nantes and Brittany
Historically, the country around Nantes (French: Le Pays Nantais; Breton: Bro Naoned; Gallo: Paeï de Nàntt) was always seen as being part of Brittany. In 1207, the Dukes of Brittany made Nantes their home, building the Castle of the Dukes of Brittany on the banks of the Loire. Most of the dukes and duchesses were buried in either the cathedral or the nearby abbeys.
In 1789, the separation of the historical provinces of France resulted in Brittany being split in five; the lower of the five, Loire-Inférieure (today Loire-Atlantique) was where Nantes was situated. As such, Brittany as an administrative region did not exist during the 19th and early 20th centuries, although it did still exist culturally and informally. When regional regroupments during the 20th century resulted in the reinstatement of the regions, Loire-Atlantique found itself split from the other four départements by the Vichy regime in 1941; a new région had been created centred on Nantes, the Pays de la Loire.
Much debate surrounding this move persists. Those against (sometimes called the Breton militants) maintain that the separation was made by a non-democratically elected government, and that Loire-Atlantique is culturally, historically and geographically united to Brittany; those in favour argue that any reunification would reopen a "quarrel of the capitals" between Nantes and Rennes, and that it would be fatal to the Pays de la Loire région.
The issue of language is also relevant; in Upper Brittany (locally called Bretagne Gallèse or Haute Bretagne) Romance languages especially the local Gallo, as well as French, have long had more influence than Breton. However, in many large cities, including Nantes and Saint-Brieuc, the Breton language has sometimes been spoken more widely than Gallo by the very urban and bourgeois population there (even though in Le Pays Nantais the opposite was true). In recent years, many bilingual plaques have appeared on tourist attractions in the city, with the help of the Ofis ar Brezhoneg (French: Office de la Langue Bretonne; Office of the Breton Language).
Most recently, on 15 May 2004, a hastily organized demonstration in Nantes calling for the reunification of Brittany attracted 6,000 participants, while in five surveys on the issue, between 62% and 75% of the population of Loire-Atlantique have come out in favour of reunification.
Colleges and universities
The first organized omnibus transit system within a city appears to have originated in Nantes in 1826. The Nantes Tramway originally began operation in 1879, but the first generation network closed in 1958. A new generation of tramway was re-introduced in 1985, and the current network is now one of the largest and most efficient in France.
The current network operated by Semitan includes three tramway lines, one Busway line, two Navibus lines, an extensive bus network that includes 56 lines, a night bus network and an airport shuttle bus labeled "Navette Aéroport" between downtown Nantes and Nantes Atlantique Airport. Additionally, Semitan has an exclusive agreement with French national train operator SNCF to allow TAN passengers ride suburban trains within the urban area limits with a valid TAN ticket or pass. Long distance travel throughout the Loire-Atlantique département is operated by Lila (run by the Loire-Atlantique council), which runs inter urban buses. All transport modes share a common ticketing system within Nantes Métrople (with the exception of Lila buses) and there are no travel zones on the TAN network and suburban trains (within the Métropole).
The Nantes built-up area's inhabitants make about 2 million journeys a day. So as to ensure all its inhabitants of mobility while at the same time conserving its environment, Nantes Métropole provides efficient complementary modes of travel, public transport in particular. Furthermore, Nantes Métropole provides soft mode of transport: bicycles.
- Bicloo: 790 self-service bikes and 89 stations in central Nantes.
- City by bike: in partnership with NGE, rent a bike at the car parks.
- Velocampus: over 300 bikes for hire for students.
- The Loire Valley by bike: 240 km of continuous cycle tracks in the Pays-de-la-Loire.
- 376 km of cycle tracks.
Nantes Métropole is also taking part in the bid process of Velo-city 2015 under the guidance of the European Cyclist Federation.
Nantes railway station lies on a number of rail lines. Nantes is connected by TGV (high speed train) to Paris, Lyon, Marseille, Lille, and Strasbourg, with trains to Paris via the LGV Atlantique taking just over 2 hours. By Corail, Nantes is connected to Quimper, La Rochelle, Bordeaux, Lyon, and Toulouse. The regional trains and buses of the TER Pays de la Loire provide links to Saint-Nazaire, Angers, Le Mans, La Roche sur Yon, and many other regional cities.
Nantes was formerly a major commercial harbor, with facilities on River Loire in Quai de la Fosse and the west side of the Île de Nantes in downtown. Much of the commercial traffic has since migrated downstream, principally to the area around Saint-Nazaire, although the river remains navigable to ocean-going ships as far as Nantes. River cruises operate on both the Loire and its tributary the Erdre. The Tan network also includes two urban water bus routes on both rivers known as Navibus.
Nantes Atlantique Airport, located 8 km to the south-west of the city center, serves the city and surrounding areas. It is the biggest airport in western France, linking with several French and European cities, as well as Montreal in Canada and some northern Africa cities. The planning of a larger airport Aéroport du Grand Ouest, that will be situated 30 km to the north-west of Nantes in the commune of Notre-Dame-des-Landes is subject to a controversy, the actual airport being far to be saturated and the new one destroying a wetland sheltering endangered species. The €580 million project keeps being delayed, with construction expected to start in 2012 and an opening date in 2015.
Nantes has many churches, among which the most famous are:
- Cathédrale Saint-Pierre et Saint-Paul (colloquially called "Cathédrale Saint-Pierre").
- Église Notre-Dame de Bon-Port (also known as Basilica of Saint-Louis).
- Basilique Saint-Nicolas (Basilica of Saint-Nicolas, erected in 1844).
- Église Sainte-Croix (once designed as the chapel of Bouffay castle built during medieval times, then destroyed in the 19th century).
- Église Saint-Clément.
- Église Saint-Similien.
- Église Saint-Donatien et Saint-Rogatien.
- Église Saint-Félix (former bishop of Nantes).
- Église Sainte-Thérèse (made out of red bricks in its entirety).
- Église Saint-Pasquier.
Other worship places
- Saint-Basile-and-saint-Alexis orthodox church.
Nantes has three mosques:
- Mosquée Arrahma
- Mosquée en langue turque
- Mosquée El Forkane de Nantes
- Bouffay district, with its place Bouffay is the city's medieval and oldest district close to the castle and the cathedral.
- Place du Commerce, the city's main square with the Palais de la Bourse on it.
- Place Royale, a historical square with a large fountain in its center representing the Loire river.
- Place Graslin, a historic square featuring the Théâtre Graslin and famous brasserie La Cigale.
- Place Général Mellinet.
- Place Maréchal Foch, a historical square with the statue of Louis XVI erected on a pillar in its center.
- Crebillon and Orleans streets, avenues lined with luxury boutiques and linked by Place Royale.
- Île Feydeau.
- Marché de Talensac (Talensac market), the oldest and main public market.
- Quai de la Fosse, part of the former port of Nantes.
- The west part of the Isle of Nantes, a former shipyard turned into a leisure and cultural site, including the Machines of the Isle of Nantes public attractions and some warehouses turned into bars, restaurants and night clubs.
- Quartier de la creation (creation district), on the Isle of Nantes close to the Machines of the Isle of Nantes.
- Tour Bretagne, an office building built in 1976.
- Musée d'histoire de Nantes (Nantes history museum), located inside the Château des Ducs de Bretagne.
- Musée d'art de Nantes (Nantes art museum), reopening at fall 2013 under the new name.
- Musée Thomas Dobrée (Thomas Dobrée archaeological museum) close to place Graslin.
- Muséum d'histoire naturelle de Nantes (Nantes natural history museum) close to place Graslin.
- Musée Jules Verne, world famous novel writer Jules Verne's museum, on butte Sainte-Anne.
- Planetarium of Nantes, close to Jules Verne museum on butte Saint-Anne.
- Mémorial de l'abolition de l'esclavage (slavery abolition memorial).
- Musée naval Maillé-Brézé (naval museum).
- Musée des compagnons du devoir, the Pays de la Loire regional contemporary art collection located inside the "manoir de la Hautière" in Chantenay.
- Musée de l'imprimerie (print & typography museum).
- Musée de la Machine à coudre (sewing machine museum).
- Musée des sapeurs-pompiers (firefighters museum).
- Musée de la poste (post museum).
Monuments and landmarks
- Château des Ducs de Bretagne (castle of the Dukes of Brittany) is the most important castle and hosts the History Museum of the City of Nantes.
- Porte Saint-Pierre, the best preserved remnant of the former battlements of the medieval city.
- Passage Pommeraye, built from 1841 to 1843 is a historical shopping mall on three levels.
- Historical Brasserie La Cigale, is an Art Nouveau designed brasserie opened in 1895, and described by Jean-Louis Trintignant as "perhaps the most beautiful brasserie in the world".
- Tour LU, an Art Nouveau tower standing at the entrance of the former famous Lefèvre-Utile biscuit factory. Its twin tower was destroyed during the war.
- Cours Cambronne, a promenade park close to place Graslin.
- Palais de la Bourse, which now houses a branch of FNAC.
Parks and gardens
- Beaujoire Stadium, Nantes' largest sports stadium and home of FC Nantes football club.
- Parc des expositions de la Beaujoire, the city's exhibition center.
- La Cité Nantes Events Center.
Nantes has several cinemas including:
- Katorza, close to place Graslin.
- Concorde, close to place Émile Zola.
- Le Cinématographe, the oldest cinema in Nantes.
- Bonne Garde.
- Gaumont Nantes, located on Place du Commerce.
- Pathé Atlantis, Nantes biggest cinema in the Atlantis commercial zone in Saint-Herblain.
- UGC Ciné Cité Atlantis in Saint-Herblain.
- Cinéville in Saint-Sébastien-sur-Loire.
- Ciné Pole Sud in Basse-Goulaine.
Nantes hosts a variety of cultural events, among which:
- Estuaire, a contemporary art exhibition that takes place every two years between Nantes and Saint-Nazaire (along the Loire estuary).
- Les Rendez-vous de l'Erdre, a jazz festival centered around the Erdre river.
- Les rencontres du fleuve, a festival centered around ships and the river.
- Le Festival Eidos du film d'environnement et de développement durable, a cinema festival themed around the environment and sustainability.
- The Festival des trois continents, dedicated to African, Asian and South American cinema.
- La Folle Journée, a classical music festival,
- Les Utopiales, international science fiction convention,
- The Festival Voisinages, various theatre performances (Théâtre du Grand T, Théâtre universitaire de Nantes, salle Onyx de Saint-Herblain).
Music and artistic creation
There are quite a few bands from Nantes who play different genres but are not well known outside of France.
- The Celtic band Tri Yann was originally known as Tri Yann an Naoned (the three Johns from Nantes).
- The DJ group C2C, champion of the Disco Mix Club World Team DJ Championship four years in a row (2003–2006) is native of Nantes.
- The Hip Hop group Hocus Pocus is from Nantes.
- 18-year-old electropop producer Madeon is a native of Nantes.
- Depth Affect is from Nantes.
To see a list of Bands from Nantes, see fr:Rock à Nantes (French).
Royal de Luxe street theater company, famous for its performance featuring giant puppets, is based in Nantes.
Specialties from Nantes include:
- Muscadet, a white French wine.
- Beurre blanc (white butter) also called "beurre Nantais" is a butter sauce created by Clémence Lefeuvre.
- Galettes, which are a heavier, less sweet version of the crepe, are traditional fare in Bretagne, the region in which Nantes historically resides. Galettes can be eaten at any time of the day, feature buckwheat flour, and are usually filled with meat, eggs, cheese, or a variety of other things. However, they are much less of a dessert food than the traditional crepes.
- Curé Nantais, a French cheese.
- Berlingot Nantais, a French candy created during the 19th century.
- Petit Beurre, a biscuit produced by LU.
The local football team is FC Nantes, members of the Championnat de France de Ligue 2 for the 2011–12 season. Since its creation in 1943, the club has gained reputation for its offensive style of play, locally named "jeu a la nantaise", and captured 8 Championnat titles and 3 Coupes de France.
Former players include Didier Deschamps, Marcel Desailly, Christian Karembeu and Fabien Barthez who were members of the France team that won the 1998 World Cup. Other notable players are Maxime Bossis, Philippe Gondet, Henri Michel, Claude Makélélé and Mickaël Landreau.
FC Nantes holds several records in the history of French professional football, including most consecutive seasons in the elite (44), most wins in a season (26), season invincibility (32 games) and all-time home invincibility (92 games, nearly 5 years). No French player has ever scored more goals than Philippe Gondet in a single season (36 in 1965–1966).
Local television channels
Newspapers for sale:
- Anne of Brittany, Duchess of Brittany and Queen of France (only woman to have married two kings of France, Charles VIII and Louis XII)
- François Bégaudeau, writer, journalist and actor
- Louis-Albert Bourgault-Ducoudray, composer and professor (Prix de Rome laureate)
- Claire Bretécher, cartoonist
- Aristide Briand, French statesman (1926 Nobel Peace Prize laureate)
- Claude Cahun (born Lucy Schwob), photographer and author
- Pierre Cambronne, general (commander of the Old Guard at Waterloo)
- Jacques Cassard, corsair
- Jeanne Cherhal, singer and songwriter
- Jacques Demy, movie director
- Jean Graton, cartoonist
- Linda Hardy, actress and model (Miss France 1992)
- Christophe-Léon-Louis Juchault de Lamoricière, general and politician (commander of the Papal army)
- Paul Ladmirault, composer
- Paul de la Gironière, traveler
- Denys de La Patellière, film director and scriptwriter
- Julien de Lallande Poydras, New Orleans member of the United States House of Representatives
- Charles-Auguste Lebourg, sculptor
- Hugo Leclercq aka Madeon, music producer
- Joseph Malègue, novelist
- Suzanne Malherbe (aka Marcel Moore), illustrator and designer
- Patrice Martin, water skier (12-time world champion)
- Anna Mouglalis, actress
- Benoit Regent, actor
- Claude Sérillon, journalist
- Éric Tabarly, sailor
- Sylvie Tellier, model (Miss France 2002)
- Jérémy Toulalan, football player
- Jules Verne, author
- Pierre Waldeck-Rousseau, politician
Twin towns – Sister cities
Nantes is twinned or has sister city relations with:
The city has also built close ties with:
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- Nantes Passion
- Le Mois Nantais
- La Lettre A Lulu
- Published in the 19th century
- "Nantes", A handbook for travellers in France, London: John Murray, 1861
- C.B. Black (1876), "Nantes", Guide to the north of France, Edinburgh: Adam and Charles Black
- "Nantes", Northern France, Leipsic: Karl Baedeker, 1899, OCLC 2229516
- Published in the 20th century
- "Nantes", The Encyclopaedia Britannica (11th ed.), New York: Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1910, OCLC 14782424
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Nantes|
|Wikivoyage has travel information related to: Nantes|
- Nantes : the former capital of Brittany – Official French website (English)
- Official website of the city of Nantes (French)
- Nantes tourism office official website (English)
- (TAN) Nantes public transports official website (French)
- Nantes Atlantique international airport website (English)
- Official website of Nantes' Castle (English)
- Photo Gallery of Nantes
- Photos of Nantes
- Local websites
- Nantes Metropole
- Nantes Métropole Développement
- La ville de Nantes
- Garde d'enfants à Nantes
- L'office de tourisme
- L'aéroport de Nantes
- Université de Nantes