A new semester is about to start and Nantes may be your next destination as an exchange student. Or you might just want to find a new destiny for your To do list. Let me tell you that this is in my opinion one of the most beautiful cities to live in France. Despite the high cost of living, Nantes offers you an unique lifestyle.
Welcome to the 6th largest city in France, Nantes. Located on the Loire River, just 50 km far from the Atlantic coast in the Pays de la Loire region. Nantes was the main home of the dukes of Brittany, and you can actually visit their castle in the historic city.
It became the biggest harbour in France, and basically was responsible for almost half of the French slave trade in the 18th century. Find more about this visiting the local memorial of abolition of slavery, very close to the Ile de Nantes, free of charge. After 1850 Nantes transformed the industry into a ship building and food processing. After 20th century its economy evolved into services.
Life in Nantes
If it is not the first time you move to a new city, for sure you know all the basic steps. Registration in the city hall, opening of a new bank account, health care system, home insurance, etc. If you still need more information about that I already posted something here. If for some reason I still didn’t solve your questions, feel free to comment or write me in the contact section. I’d be happy to hear from you.
As I briefly mentioned before, the living costs in Nantes are high. If you are a student, there are several options when looking for a place to live in.
First there are the Crous residences, which helps students to find accommodation and also has several university restaurants along the city (these are definitely cheaper than any other restaurant). If you got an offer from one of their residences, try to get it, because it could be the cheapest option as per a student life. There are also the university residences, and that depends only on the offer that your university can provide. Normally since this is the second academic semester, those are all full.
There are several private residences in which you could apply. For those it is better to look in the map and check what is closer to your university, or wherever you want to live. Univea is one of those options, I lived in one of their residences. Personally I think those are expensive options and normally far from the city center, if you want to live close to the nice places. But it is up to you. They offer good facilities, with very nice furniture. Here you can see some tips on how to find accommodation if you are not in the country yet.
You also need to find a good home insurance before getting the accommodation. Some banks offer a basic insurance if you open an account with them. But you also can find good insurance with the same health care company you choose. The price depends on your age sometimes. So just take your time to look their offers and choose the best option for your needs.
Remember that everybody who reside in France has the right to get the government help for paying the rent. It is known as CAF and will give you some amount of money to cover more or less half of your rent. This amount depends on a lot of things, such as: country of origin, income, family members living with you, type of accommodation, age, etc. I have mentioned something about it in my older post.
Nantes has been recognized for its nice public transport system. With a tramway and several buses, you can reach to any place of the city for an average price of 1.5 Euro. I recommend you to get the user card, which costs around 27 Euro/month for those younger than 25 years old and 50 Euro/month for older.
There are public bikes as well, and as far as I know, the system works pretty good. Since I always had my own bike, I don’t really know how it works. You can find all the information here. There are a lot of offers of second hand bikes, from 30 Euros in several stores around the city.
Be careful, if you buy your own bike, make sure to secure it with double lock. Mine was stolen at midday from the heart of the city.
I recommend to combine two types of locks for your bike if you live in Nantes. See these:
- U lock: you can carry it easily in your bag or tie it to some part of your bike. It’s hard to break
- Chain type: very useful. A little bit heavy, but worth it if you want to keep your bike safe
- Simple lock: combine one of the two above with this one for a better security. Do not use this one alone.
What to do in Nantes
This is a very nice city and for sure you will never be bored here. Especially in summer, when there are a lot of events along the river. Here is a list of the events in the city this year.
If you are an adventurous like me, just take your bike and find all the castles hiding on the Loire river. Or go to St Nazaire by bike, it’s a very beautiful road. Join one of the tourism groups by bike. Discover the city, walk through it. Visit the museums and parks. Go to the stadium. And so many nice things that you must see by yourself:
- Visit the Chateau des ducs de Bretagne
- Go to the Memorial of abolition of slavery
- Visit the Jules Verne museum
- Relax at the Japanese garden
- Do a guided visit at Airbus
- Visit the Cruise museum in St Nazaire
- Go to the beach at Pornic (and why not do some surf!)
- See the flowers at Parc Floral Roseraie
- Jog in the Jardin des Plantes
- See Les machines de l’ile (like the elephant in the picture above)
- Visit the Naval museum (it’s a ship)
- Do a cathedral and churches tour
- Go up to the Brittany tower Le nid (it costs 3 Euros more or less)
- Eat delicious desserts at the boulangeries
- Take a boat trip through the Loire river
- Party at Hangar á bananes or Havana café
Fall in love with this amazing city as I did
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