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Coat of arms of Nantes
Nantes (France)
region Pays de la Loire ( Prefecture )
Department Loire-Atlantique
Arrondissement Nantes
Canton Nantes-1 (main town)
Nantes-2 (main town)
Nantes-3 (main town)
Nantes-4 (main town)
Nantes-5 (main town)
Nantes-6 (main town)
Nantes-7 (main town)
Community association Nantes metropolis
Coordinates 47 ° 13 ′  N , 1 ° 33 ′  W Coordinates: 47 ° 13 ′  N , 1 ° 33 ′  W
height 2-52 m
surface 65.19 km 2
- Unité urbaine
309,346 (January 1, 2017)
Population density 4,745 inhabitants / km 2
Post Code 44000, 44100, 44200 and 44300
INSEE code

Port of Nantes

Nantes [ nɑ̃ːt ] ( Breton Naoned ; gallo : Naunnt; Latin Portus Namnetus ) is a city in western France , prefecture in the Loire-Atlantique department (Breton Liger-Atlantel ) and capital of the Pays de la Loire region .

The temporary capital of historic Brittany was split off in 1941 with the Loire-Atlantique department and is therefore not part of the modern administrative region of Brittany .

In October 2010, the city of Nantes became the fourth city to receive the European Green Capital 2013 award . On January 31, 2017, Nantes was awarded the honorary title of “ Reformation City of Europe ” by the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe as the 77th city .


With 309,346 inhabitants (as of January 1, 2017), Nantes ranks sixth among the largest cities in France . The population of the agglomeration is around 550,000.

The Erdre and Sèvre flow into the Loire near Nantes . The city is located about 55 kilometers east of the Atlantic and is mostly north of the Loire.

The climatic conditions of Nantes are determined by its proximity to the Atlantic: the winters are mild and humid, the summers warm and not too dry. The annual mean temperature is 11.9 ° C.

Near the city is the geographic center of the land hemisphere of the globe.

Climate diagram
J F. M. A. M. J J A. S. O N D.
Temperature in ° Cprecipitation in mm
Average monthly temperatures and rainfall for Nantes
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Max. Temperature ( ° C ) 8.4 9.6 12.2 14.9 18.2 21.9 24.4 24.0 21.8 17.3 12.1 9.0 O 16.2
Min. Temperature (° C) 2.4 2.8 4.0 5.9 9.0 11.9 13.9 13.5 11.8 8.9 5.1 3.0 O 7.7
Precipitation ( mm ) 86.6 70.2 69.1 49.9 64.1 45.0 46.4 44.8 62.2 79.2 86.9 84.1 Σ 788.5
Hours of sunshine ( h / d ) 2.3 3.5 4.8 6.2 6.8 8.0 8.6 7.7 6.4 4.5 3.0 2.3 O 5.3
Rainy days ( d ) 13 11 11 9 11 8th 7th 7th 8th 10 11 12 Σ 118
Humidity ( % ) 88 85 81 77 78 76 75 75 79 85 88 89 O 81.3
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

coat of arms

Description : In red a golden boat moving to the right with three golden masts and yards, on it five hermelin-colored square sails , the stern mast with only one, and golden pennants. The base of the shield is green and the head of the shield is studded with five large ermines.



Between 900 and 600 BC Remains of settlements on the banks of the Loire have already been proven. Around 500 BC BC settled in the region around today's Nantes Celts . As a result, the place became the capital of the Celtic tribe of Namneter. In the Gallic War , the area was 56 BC. BC subject to Roman rule under Caesar . In the year 50 BC The Roman port city Portus Namnetus was founded in the area of ​​today's city of Nantes , which was named after the Namnetern resident there. In the third century, the residents converted to Christianity . Around the year 285 the Saxons invaded the region. Since the 4th century Nantes was the seat of a diocese .

middle Ages

Bretons are believed to have come from the British Isles in the 5th and 6th centuries, but written and archaeological evidence of such settlements is poor. Charlemagne subjugated Brittany, which revolted under his successors. The first pillage by the Loire-Normans is recorded for the year 843 . Nominoë , who ruled Brittany at the time, conquered Nantes in 850 and had its walls razed because the city had allied itself with Charles the Bald . In 919 Nantes fell to the Normans, who were driven out again in 936. Around this time the rivalry between the Counts of Nantes and the Counts of Rennes began , who fought for sovereignty over Brittany.

In 1154 Nantes was handed over to Henry II , who ascended the English throne that year. In 1203 the county of Nantes came to an end. Peter Mauclerc was appointed Duke of Brittany by King Philip II of France in 1213 and made Nantes his capital. He surrounded Nantes with fortifications and defended the city against Johann Ohneland . The city, which remained the capital of Brittany until 1689, also developed into its important seaport from the 14th century. During the War of the Breton Succession (1341-64), the city was first on the side of Johann von Montfort , but surrendered in November 1341 to Karl von Blois . Ultimately, however, the Montforts were victorious, became dukes of Brittany in 1364 and chose Nantes as their main residence. In 1460 the university was founded in Nantes by Duke Francis II of Brittany and confirmed by Pope Pius II . After the death of Anne de Bretagne (1477-1514), Brittany was incorporated into the French crown domain. Epidemics recurred in Nantes during the 15th and 16th centuries .

Modern times up to the 19th century

In 1560, King Franz II granted Nantes a municipal constitution. During the Huguenot Wars (1562–98), the city, which was hostile to Protestantism , joined the Catholic League and did not surrender to King Henry IV until 1598. With the Edict of Nantes ( Edict of Tolerance ) by Henry IV on April 13th Adopted in 1598, the decades-long oppression and persecution of the Huguenots by the Catholic Church and the French state ended. This had its climax in 1572 in the so-called Bartholomäusnacht . However, the Edict of Nantes, which allowed the French Calvinists to practice their religion freely, was revoked by Louis XIV in 1685 ( Edict of Fontainebleau ).

In 1626 Henri de Talleyrand-Périgord , Count of Chalais, was executed in Nantes for a conspiracy against Cardinal Richelieu . Nicolas Fouquet was arrested here in 1661 at the instigation of Louis XIV . In 1718, the regent Philip of Orléans had some Cellamare conspirators executed in Nantes.

Due to its favorable location on the Loire estuary, the city experienced an economic boom in the 18th century and became the most important port city in France. It owed this to the Asian trade, but above all to the flourishing slave trade with America. Around half of all French slave ships left Nantes. A memorial for the abolition of slavery was inaugurated on the Quai de la Fosse, the landing stage for slave ships .

The area of ​​the Vendée uprising , which turned against the increasingly radical measures of the French revolutionary government , also included the area around Nantes. During the reign of terror , the Vendée uprising was bloodily suppressed by the forces of the National Convention. Even after the uprising had been put down, the Paris government had the so-called " Hell Columns " (French colonnes infernales ) plundered and pillaged, thus systematically devastating the country and retaliation against the civilian population. Carrier , the envoy of the Parisian revolutionary government, allegedly had 16,000 "opponents of the revolution" executed in and around Nantes in 1793, primarily through the mass drownings in the Loire, known as Noyades or the baptism of Nantes .

In 1826, the world's first public bus line was inaugurated in Nantes . In 1832 the Duchess of Berry was arrested in Nantes after trying to instigate a revolt against King Louis-Philippe in the Vendée . In 1903, the Nantes transporter ferry, the fifth known ferry of this type in the world, was opened and was demolished in 1958.

Nantes was the destination of the outward journey in the world's first motorcycle race . On September 20, 1896, eight participants carried out a competition that led from Paris to Nantes and back again. M. Chevalier won on a Michelin Dion.

Nantes in World War II

In June 1940, took place in the course of the campaign in the west , the occupation of the city by German troops . On October 20, 1941, the German city ​​commandant Lieutenant Colonel Karl Hotz was killed by the Resistance ; 48 hostages were executed as an act of revenge  (the main thoroughfare, Cours des 50 Otages , commemorates this tragedy).

From 1943 the Navy maintained a naval hospital in the city. Between September 16 and 23, 1943, Nantes was badly hit by Allied air raids. 1467 people died and around 2500 were injured. The city suffered severe damage. After the Allies landed in Normandy in early June 1944, the town was evacuated by the German occupation forces on August 12, 1944.

When the regions of France were created in June 1941 by the Vichy government , the Loire-Atlantique department and thus Nantes, the former capital of Brittany, were assigned to the Pays de la Loire region and thereby separated from the new region of Brittany .


After the Second World War, the northernmost arm of the Loire was filled in and the railway to Saint-Nazaire was re -routed underground. This made it possible to redesign the inner city.

In 1962 the University of Nantes was reopened. The decline of the shipbuilding industry in the late 1980s plunged Nantes into a deep crisis. In 1989 the last shipyard was closed. The result was high unemployment and social and cultural decay (highest alcoholic rate in France). The TGV connection with Paris and a strong outsourcing of the national administration from Paris to the province marked the beginning of the revival of Nantes. The reintroduction of the tram and the organization of numerous cultural festivities ( Rendez-vous de l'Erdre , Royal de Luxe ) also contributed to the renewed rise of the Atlantic metropolis. Nantes has left its competitors Rennes and Angers far behind; Bordeaux is now the new benchmark . There are efforts to reshape and unite the region in order to highlight the cultural similarities. The last unofficial referendum in 2003 clearly pointed in this direction.

From 1989 to 2012, Jean-Marc Ayrault was Mayor of Nantes and also a member of the National Assembly . He resigned as mayor just over a month after his appointment as prime minister , his successor was Patrick Rimbert (PS). Johanna Rolland (PS) has been the first female mayor of Nantes since 2014 .


In Wolfram von Eschenbach's novel Parzival , the action also takes place in the city of Nantes, east of the W ALDES of Brocéliande (La Forêt de Brocéliande, Brizljan ), from. Allegedly the Artus Court is located there.

Population development

year Residents
1750 57,000
1954 222,800
1962 246.200
1968 260.244
20th February 1975 256,693
March 4th 1982 247.227
March 5, 1990 244.995
March 8, 1999 277.728
2005 280,600
2008 289,800
2012 291,604

Economy and Transport

Tram in Nantes (Adtranz)
Nantes train station

The importance of Nantes as a seaport decreased with the size of the ships. The port is hardly of any importance today; the large freighters unload their goods 50 kilometers west of Nantes in St. Nazaire . In the 19th century, the navigable Canal de Nantes à Brest was built, which is now mainly used for tourism by pleasure boats and houseboats . The transporter bridge across the Loire was decommissioned in 1955.

Important branches of industry are the steel , glass , textile , sugar industries and the food industry, for example Saupiquet was founded here in 1891 . Numerous pastry companies of international renown were founded in Nantes: BN ( Biscuiterie nantaise ) and LU ( Lefèvre-Utile ) are two well-known examples. There is an Airbus plant on the southern outskirts of Nantes .

The greater Nantes area has a well-developed local transport network . It is operated by Semitan (Société d'économie mixte des transports en commun de l'agglomération nantaise). The main means of transport are:

Nantes had had a tram since 1885 , the vehicles of which were initially powered by compressed air . The electrification of the lines took place in 1913. Operation ceased in 1958, as most trams in France were shut down in the post-war period. In 1985 a new tram network was opened, the first new installation in France.

Since November 2006, the city has had a busway with line 4 from Foch Cathédrale and the castle in a south-east direction to Porte de Vertou. This bus line, a Bus Rapid Transit System, is consistently run on its own lanes and has absolute priority at intersections.

The Nantes Atlantique airport in the southwest of the city is well utilized. In January 2018, after protests, it was decided not to pursue plans for a new building.

The city is a railway junction, it is on the Tours – Saint-Nazaire railway line ; the main line towards Saintes- Bordeaux, as well as several regional lines, begin at Nantes station . From Paris , Nantes can be reached in a good two hours by TGV .



Around 54,000 students study in Nantes, around 36,000 at the University of Nantes . There are also several private universities including Audencia Nantes .


The most widely read regional daily newspaper is Ouest-France , although it is published in Rennes . In addition to other newspapers and magazines, two television channels and a large number of radio stations broadcast from Nantes.


The most important sports team in Nantes is the multiple (most recently 2001) French football champions FC Nantes .

  • Societies:
    • Hermine de Nantes Atlantique (basketball)
    • Nantes Atlantique Baseball (baseball)
    • ASPTT Nantes Football (soccer)
    • La Nantaise (gymnastics)
    • HBC Nantes (handball)
    • Center Subaquatique nantais (hockey)
    • Les Corsaires (hockey)
    • Stade Nantais Université Club (rugby)
    • Saint-Joseph Volley Nantes Atlantique (volleyball)
    • Stade Nantais Athlétique Club (athletics)
    • Racing Club Nantais (athletics)
  • Stages:

In September 2012 the European Swingolf Championship took place on the local 18-hole course.


The Orchester national des Pays de la Loire , a professional symphony orchestra, has existed since 1971, with half in Nantes and Angers . Nantes also shares an opera with Angers, which is set in the Théâtre Graslin .

Several musicians come from Nantes, such as Dominique A , the music group Tri Yann or the hip-hop group Tragédie.


Nantes has several important museums, including the Musée d'Arts (with the Chapelle de l'Oratoire), a Jules Verne museum , the Musée Dobrée , the Museum of the History of Nantes in the Castle of the Dukes of Brittany and a natural history museum . The Lieu Unique, a cultural center in the former biscuit factory LU (Lefèvre-Utile), shows changing exhibitions of modern art .


Significant sights are:

  • The castle of the Dukes of Brittany : The last castle on the Loire before the ocean, which now houses the Nantes Historical Museum, and which reopened its doors in early 2007 after 15 years of restoration.
  • The Flamboyant Gothic Saint-Pierre Cathedral and the tomb of Francis II and Marguerite de Foix (1507), the parents of Anne de Bretagne . On the morning of July 18, 2020, a fire, believed to have been arson , broke out in the church . The fire broke out in three places, said the public prosecutor of Nantes, Pierre Sennès.
  • A variety of other churches. These include the late Gothic church of Sainte-Croix with a Renaissance church tower in the middle of the old town and the neo-Gothic buildings of Saint-Nicolas and Saint-Clement.
  • The tower of the former Lefèvre-Utile biscuit factory ( Tour LU ) near the city center.
  • Giant mechanical animals and dolls inspired by Jules Verne and the genre of steampunk , called Les Machines de l'île (since 2007). Among them, the largest object is the twelve-meter-high, movable “ Grand éléphant ”, which carries up to 52 people a few hundred meters through the site.
  • In the course of the conversion of the old port area on the Île de Nantes, an exhibition room was created in the old banana hangar. Old shipyard cranes were renovated to remind of the industrial character of the area.
  • Maillé-Brézé Naval Museum: The French destroyer D 627 Maillé-Brézé is today at the request of Charles de Gaulle as a museum ship on the banks of the Loire and provides information about the Second World War .
  • Parks, especially the botanical garden at the main train station .
  • Shopping streets such as rue Crébillon and the historic Pommeraye passage , a 19th century merchants' gallery.
  • The bistro La Cigale , considered one of the most beautiful in France, on the theater square of the renovated Théâtre Graslin . This 19th century Art Nouveau brasserie inspired the surrealists and Jacques Demy , who shot scenes from his film “Lola” (1960) here , with its décor .
  • The synagogue , inaugurated in 1870.
  • New buildings such as the Palace of Justice by architect Jean Nouvel .
  • The Cité Radieuse as an example of modern housing ( Unité d'Habitation ) by the architect Le Corbusier in the suburb of Rezé .
  • Along the Loire from Nantes to Saint-Nazaire, the permanent art course Estuaire is building a museum with 28 works of art over a length of 60 kilometers.


The classical music festival La Folle Journée takes place from late January to early February and attracts many international guests. On the first weekend of September, the Rendez-vous de l'Erdre , a large jazz festival on the banks of the Erdre, takes place every year. Estuaire is an art project along the Loire Estuary that took place in 2007, 2009 and 2012.


The sons and daughters of Nantes include the Duchess Anne de Bretagne , the writer Jules Verne , the French Interior Minister Pierre Waldeck-Rousseau , the Prime Minister and Nobel Peace Prize winner Aristide Briand , the national soccer player Jérémy Toulalan and the freestyle motocross driver Thomas Pagès

Town twinning

Films about Nantes

Jacques Demy

  • 1960: Lola - Director: Jacques Demy
  • 1982: A room in the city (Une chambre en ville) - Director: Jacques Demy
  • 1990: Jacquot (Jacquot de Nantes) - director: Agnès Varda ; about Jacques Demy's childhood and his beginnings as a filmmaker between 1945 and 1949

Other films


  • Paul Bois: Histoire de Nantes (=  Univers de la France et des pays francophones. Series Histoire des villes . 39e). Private, Toulouse 1984, ISBN 2-7089-4717-6 (reprint of 1977 edition).
  • Annick Caraminot (text), Eric Milteau (photos): Nantes, les couleurs d'une ville . Ouest-France, Rennes 2010, ISBN 978-2-7373-5182-2 .
  • Christophe Catsaros: Le Lieu Unique: Le chantier, un acte culturel (=  L'impensé ). Actes Sud, Arles 2004, ISBN 2-7427-6391-0 .
  • Mikaël Gilian (text), Jean Dominik (photos): Nantes: Entre Loire et Atlantique (=  Petite bibliothèque Thalassa . Volume 6 ). Fernand Nathan; France 3, Paris 2002, ISBN 2-09-261113-5 .
  • Valéry Joncheray, Luc Arthur: Nantes entre Loire et océan . Siloë, Laval 2007, ISBN 978-2-84231-407-1 .
  • Yannick Le Marec: Nantes au XIXe siècle: You fleuve à la ville . Siloë, Nantes 2003, ISBN 2-84231-194-9 .
  • Gaston Lequimener: Notre cathédrale de Nantes: Une recherche du sens à travers l'histoire et l'art . Editions GECOP, Nantes 1993, ISBN 2-908289-03-2 .
  • Alain-François Lesacher, Monique Sclaresky, Hélène Cayeux: Nantes here & aujourd'hui . Editions Ouest-France, Rennes 1995, ISBN 2-7373-1562-X .
  • Stéphane Pajot: Nantes étonnante: faits et visages oubliés d'un siècle insolite (=  Mémoire & racines ). D'Orbestier, Le Château d'Olonne 2004, ISBN 2-84238-032-0 .
  • Stéphane Pajot: Personnages pittoresques de Nantes et de Loire-Atlantique (=  Mémoire & racines ). 2nd Edition. D'Orbestier, Le Château d'Olonne 2000, ISBN 2-84238-022-3 .
  • Stéphane Pajot: Nantes-sur-Mer: Histoire d'eau de la Loire à l'Atlantique . Editions d'Orbestier, Le Château d'Olonne 2002, ISBN 2-84238-054-1 .
  • Olivier Pétré-Grenouilleau: Nantes au temps de la traite des Noirs (=  Pluriel ). 2nd Edition. Hachette Littératures, Paris 2007, ISBN 978-2-01-279410-8 .
  • Daniel Quesney: Retour à Nantes (=  return à ). Les Beaux Jours, Paris 2008, ISBN 978-2-35179-019-9 (French, illustrated book; English text translated by Anita Conrade).
  • Jean-Yves Ruaux: Nantes . Ouest-France, Rennes 1999, OCLC 742841029 .
  • Jean-Baptiste Russon: L'Eglise Sainte-Croix de Nantes . Impr. De Bretagne, Nantes 1956, OCLC 492521854 .
  • Jean-Jacques Treuttel: Nantes - Un Destin Contrarié (=  La ville ). Hartmann, Paris 1997, ISBN 2-912344-00-X .
  • Armel de Wismes: Les grandes heures de Nantes . Perrin, Paris 2001, ISBN 2-262-01763-8 (new edition of the 1992 edition).

Web links

Commons : Nantes  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wikivoyage: Nantes  travel guide

Individual evidence

  1. See the city portrait of the Reformation city ​​of Nantes. France. City of the edict and without tolerance. In:, accessed January 17, 2018.
  2. Jochen Meissner, Ulrich Mücke, Klaus Weber: Black America. A history of slavery. Beck, Munich 2008, ISBN 978-3-406-56225-9 , p. 84.
  3. Stefan Simons: Memorial in Nantes: The late repentance of the slave trade metropolis. In: Spiegel Online . April 23, 2012. Retrieved March 15, 2017.
  4. ^ Marc C. Young: The Guinness book of sports records . 18th edition. Guinness Media, Inc., Stamford, CT 1997, ISBN 0-9652383-1-8 , p. 178 ( preview in Google book search).
  5. There were 50 hostages, two of which were not shot.
  6. Johannes Wetzel: "It is your country, you have no other". France argues over the suicide note from a high school student executed by the German occupiers in 1941. In: The world . November 22, 2007, accessed on July 24, 2009 : “After Hotz's murder, the German occupiers ordered the shooting of 48 hostages selected with the help of the Vichy authorities. Guy Môquet was one of 27 communists from an internment camp near Nantes. "
  7. Les bombardements des Nantes 16 et 23 septembre 1943. (pdf) Archived from the original on September 15, 2017 ; accessed on July 19, 2020 (French).
  8. Michaela Wiegel : City, River, Country. In: June 7, 2012, Retrieved June 7, 2012.
  9. (AFP): Patrick Rimbert (PS) élu maire de Nantes. In: June 29, 2012, accessed February 23, 2013 (French).
  11. ^ Homepage of the Semitan. In:, accessed on March 15, 2017.
  12. as / dpa: Notres-Dame-des Landes: Macron's government stops construction of a controversial major airport. In: Spiegel Online. January 17, 2018, accessed January 17, 2018 .
  13. Présentation de l'évènement ( Memento of February 17, 2013 in the Internet Archive ). In:, accessed on March 15, 2017 (information from the inviting club).
  14. Investigators in Nantes assume arson. FAZ.Net, July 18, 2020