Travellers looking for an eco-friendly holiday will have a lot to enjoy in Nantes this year, says Zoë McIntyre
The city of Nantes has been promoting sustainable living for more than 20 years and its efforts across a range of environmental issues were recognised when it was made the European Green Capital for 2013.
The capital of the Pays-de-la-Loire region has encouraged many eco-initiatives including a well-developed public transport network (it was the first French city to introduce modern electric trams) and 400 kilometres of cycle paths. More than half of the city’s total area is given over to green spaces, incorporating parks, gardens, wetlands and other conservation projects.
Visitors in the spring shouldn’t miss the magnolias and camellias in the Jardin des Plantes, or the tropical greenhouse in the Parc du Grand Blottereau and the Japanese garden on the Île de Versailles. The area’s heritage is explored in the Musée d’Histoire Naturelle, which contains one of l’Hexagone’s biggest collections of zoological and botanical specimens.
France’s sixth largest city has also taken advantage of its position near the mouth of the River Loire where it is joined by tributaries including the Erdre and the Sèvre Nantaise. Nature and culture merge along a riverbank walkway which has a permanent collection of outdoor art exhibits. A six-minute ride on the Navibus boat shuttle links the city centre with the old fishing village of Trentemoult, a quaint quarter lined with fishermen’s cottages that provides beautiful views over the estuary at sunset.
Nantes tourist office
Tel: (Fr) 2 72 64 04 79
For a programme of the city’s green events, workshops and projects during 2013 visit www.nantesgreencapital.fr
Various airlines fly from the UK to Nantes-Atlantique airport. The city is a two-hour drive from the port of Saint-Malo and two hours by train from Paris Gare Montparnasse.
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