With some of France’s finest produce on its doorstep, Nantes is a haven for food lovers. With restaurants like these, there's not excuse for not dining in style three times a day - at least - throughout your stay.
Situated between the Atlantic Ocean and the River Loire and surrounded by fertile land, Nantes has a rich and varied cuisine. The vast array of local ingredients from land, sea and river is comprehensively reflected in the city’s celebrated restaurants, so if you're visiting, leave plenty of time for your meals - and plenty of room for seconds.
Butter and breakfast: La Cigale
A short walk from the Radisson Blu Nantes, La Cigale is a Nantes institution. Established in 1895, its beautiful art nouveau interior with ornate tiling and frescoed ceilings is almost as dazzling as the food. However, it’s very popular, so avoid busy lunch and dinner times and make an early start instead. Homemade brioche is served with salted butter, using salt harvested from the nearby Guérande salt marshes. Find out more about the traditional production techniques at Le Guérandais, where you can take a tour of the area and pick up some heavenly salted caramels.
Lunch by the Loire: La Civelle
Popular with locals for its excellent seafood, La Civelle is situated in the old fishing village of Trentemoult, on the south bank of the Loire. It’s an easy hop across the river from the city centre by water bus and the perfect spot for a waterside lunch. Try the river fish accompanied by beurre nantais – a close relative of the famous beurre blanc, reputedly invented a few kilometres upstream from Nantes.
Patisseries and petit beurres: Vincent Guerlais
You can’t visit Nantes without eating biscuits - or at least, you really shouldn't. The celebrated Lefèvre-Utile or ‘LU’ biscuit company started life as a small patisserie in the town in 1846 and today its former factory tower has become a centre for arts and music. The LU museum, housed at the nearby Chateau de Goulaine, is worth visiting to learn more about the iconic brand - or for a contemporary twist on their signature petit beurre, head to one of Vincent Guerlais’ patisseries in the city centre. The iconic rectangular biscuit has been reinvented by the master chocolatier - and it turns out they taste even better in a cocoa butter coating.
Mouth-watering Muscadets: Maison Baron-Lefèvre
Located in a warehouse once used to store market produce, Maison Baron-Lefèvre is a stylish, contemporary restaurant in the heart of Nantes. Fresh seasonal produce comes directly from the restaurant’s own garden, and the wine cellar is particularly impressive. It’s also on display in the restaurant, so take the opportunity to taste some of the best Muscadets from the vineyards that surround Nantes. Le Musée de Vignoble Nantais is a great source of information about the wine region.
Breton delights: Crêperie de la Tête Noire
Nantes was once the capital of Brittany, so delicacies like galettes and crêpes are a must. Housed in an old rum, spice and sugar warehouse, Crêperie de la Tête Noire is a hidden treasure, tucked down a side street behind Place Royale. Their savoury crepes are delicious, but if you've got a sweet tooth, you won't be able to resist a Guérandaise with salted caramel and cream.