Nantes’ most common nickname is the Venice of the West, a name owing to its position on the river delta of the Loire, the Erdre, and the Sèvre. In 2004, Time Magazine named Nantes ‘the most liveable city in Europe’ and in 2013 it will hold the title of the European Green Capital, awarded by the EU.
The name Nantes derives from the Gaulish tribe, 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. In 1466, the city, which was the former capital of the independent dukedom of Brittany, became united with France through the marriage of Anne de Bretagne with the French King Louis XI. In 1598, Henri IV signed the famous edict of Nantes, ending 36 years of civil war between Catholics and Protestants. The discovery of the West Indies opened up the way to maritime trade and, in the 18th century, Nantes became one of the most prosperous European cities. In the 19th century, it became an industrial city. Nantes’ harbour and its shipyards were located on the Ile de Nantes until the 1970s, when they were moved to the mouth of the Loire River, at Saint-Nazaire. In 2001, a major redevelopment scheme was launched, the goal of which is to revitalise the island as the new city centre.
Nantes has a lot to offer to both the business person and the tourist (http://en.nantes-tourisme.com/). Close to the conference venue is the castle, the last one of the famous Châteaux of the Loire Valley before the river reaches the sea, being accessible and free from the battlements to the moats. Its museum on the History of Nantes with contemporary scenography appeals to all.
Also close to the conference centre, alongside the Canal Saint-Félix, is the old LU biscuits factory, built in 1885 and restored in 1998, which now lives to the rhythm of an atypical art centre. The Lieu Unique – LU – is a modern theatre, with dance, music and 3-dimensional art at its best in this former factory re-sized to house a mix of genres, cultures and people.
The Great Elephant and Machine Gallery are housed in the former shipyards that were converted into an attracting place for the lovers of the famous novels by Jules Verne, Nantes’ most famous writer, author of adventure stories including “Around the world in 80 days”. Jules Verne wrote about space, air and underwater travel before air travel and practical submarines were invented, and before practical means of space travel had been devised. Ships were once built here, and now they make monumental mechanical animals for the young and old to enjoy.
Nantes has many other enjoyable places that are worth visiting: The passage Pommeraye, the brasserie La Cigale, St Peter & St Paul Cathedral, the Botanical garden, the Trentemoult, The Isle of Nantes, area of the former shipyards, …
Nantes also has a renowned gastronomy with local “specialties” being a subtle combination of the legacy of the Loire river and the Atlantic (seafood, bass in white butter, the tasty Muscadet and Gros Plant white wines, Guérande sea salt, etc.).
Nantes is the gateway to the central Loire valley, one of the nation’s jewels, with its lush vineyards and legendary châteaux. Water, in all its forms, has really made the place. One can stroll along 350 km of riverbanks, travel up the estuary to the neighbouring towns of St Nazaire or out to the Noirmoutier or Ile d’Yeu islands. Visitors can also travel along the coast 80 km north to discover the well preserved medieval town of Guérande, also known today for its salt marshes. And of course, there are the 300 miles of coastline throughout Vendée and Britanny and their many famous beaches. Visits of the legendary Mont Saint-Michel and the town of Rennes, capital of Brittany are also at hand.
The Pays de la Loire Region is among the leading regions in France in terms of economic development. It is a diverse and thriving area that is home to countless entrepreneurs and boasts an extensive rail, road and air network. It has an outstanding nautical sector being international leaders in the pleasure boat industry and the home of some of the world’s largest cruise ships.
It also has blooming industries in the naval and aeronautic sectors, on-board electronics, automobiles and composite materials.
And finally, with its 450 km of coastline, its vineyards and agricultural areas, it is the home to one of France’s largest shelf-fish basins, a diversified agriculture and well-known food industry. In the Pays de la Loire Region you are sure to enjoy a refined, high quality cuisine.
For more information, visit the web site at : http://www.paysdelaloire.eu/