10 secret places in Nantes

10 secret places in Nantes - Unusual Places, atypical bars ...

Bon Pasteur Terrace – Uninterrupted view over the Basilique Saint-Nicolas

At first glance, the Bon Pasteur has all the characteristics of a classic neighbourhood bar. Except that, when climbing the stairs at the back, more curious visitors will discover a large suspended terrace that offers a plunging view over the Basilique Saint-Nicolas. The place is only known to regulars, who might come to sip a Spritz cocktail under the big red parasols. It's quite magical at the end of the day.

3, place du Bon Pasteur

Gymnase Armand-Coidelle – A sports hall in an old department store

This amazing sports hall is located over three levels in a breathtaking setting, between forged iron balustrades, a large glass ceiling and parquet floor from bygone days. In the early 20th century, these walls were home to the À Réaumur department store that specialised in clothing. The place was converted into a sports hall during the 60s, while still retaining their unique quality. Visitors are allowed to have a look around, as long as they don't disturb the boxing or gym classes!

10, rue Lafayette

The banks of the Erdre – Green paradise

Francis I believed it to be the "most beautiful river in France". So enjoy the charms of the Erdre, the little jewel that quietly disappears into the centre of Nantes. By heading north along the paths on the water's edge, you will discover peaceful havens of nature barely disturbed by joggers and walkers.

Aux P’tit Joueurs – The bar that hides a Nantes boules pitch

This innocent-looking bar houses a real Nantes boules pitch in its back room! Visitors can have a go for an average of €2 a game and even make use of the advice dispensed by the members present, if they like. They can also have a drink, taste excellent home-made food at low prices or enjoy concerts in the bar's antique-filled rooms.

23, rue du Port Guichard

Manoir de la Psalette – An ultra-discreet bourgeois house

Although the overblown Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul cathedral is one of the city's emblematic monuments, the little marvel of 15th century Gothic architecture that backs onto its south side is much less well-known to the general public. This is because the previous lodgings of the Vice-Chancellor of Brittany was long kept hidden from view. This treasure with its stunning turret is tucked away at the back of the square de la Psalette, frequented by only a few walkers... and the neighbourhood cats.

5, impasse Saint-Laurent

Garden at the passage Sainte-Croix – An island of nature in the city centre

Owned by the Diocese of Nantes, the little garden attached to the Sainte-Croix church is still accessible to the general public. Around the minuscule central fountain, you might come across groups of students who come to enjoy this quiet place, perhaps grabbing one of the figs that jostle for space in front of the stained-glass windows. Incidentally, this little city Eden is located on the site of the church's old cloisters and cemetery.

9, rue de la Bâclerie

Chez Marius – Nantes' most secret terrace

You first need to go through the porch at 6 rue des Carmélites, carry on a little way into the alley, turn left and then pass through the grey-green doorway to come out onto the splendid terrace at Chez Marius, the bar at the Compagnie du Café Théâtre. Don't worry, there's no need to take in a show to have a drink on the old site of the Carmélites convent, where star jasmine and a splendid olive tree now flourish. The place is open to all, from 7 pm to midnight.

6, rue des Carmélites

L’Atelier – A hidden art gallery

Behind a huge elegant gate decorated with motifs inspired by African art, there's a little paved path. This leads to a space that was once used as a granary, stables and a warehouse for wine merchants, before becoming the studio if Gérard Voisin, a local sculptor. The man has since gifted this magnificent 500-m2 space to the city, which has five rooms set around a light-filled covered patio. Contemporary art exhibitions are held here.

1, rue Châteaubriand

Maison Bertille – The secret restaurant…

From the street, it's hard to guess that an adorable little restaurant is hidden just above this gourmet deli. A staircase at the back of the shop takes leads in the know to be delighted by a carrot soup with cumin, ravioli gratin, artichoke and bacon tart or veal paupiette. Home-made cooking combined with fresh products and offered at low prices, with the starter-main course or main course-dessert lunch menu coming in at €12!

10, rue des Trois Croissants

Waterfall at the Japanese garden – Escape to Japan in an urban setting

The Île de Versailles, well-known to Nantes residents, features a wonderful Japanese garden that's perfect to stroll through. All too often, passing visitors are unaware of this zen setting with its Japanese-style pavilions, bamboos and even a waterfall located near the typical little red wooden bridge. Rest on a rock and be revitalised by the sound of the water...

Quai de Versailles
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A hidden garden, a secret restaurant, a discreet art gallery... Beyond these unmissable sites, Nantes has plenty of other surprises in store! Here's a little overview, in images, of the places that locals like to keep under wraps.

It's a hard life being a tourist... Having already discovered the Château des Ducs de Bretagne, the Machines de l'Île, the Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul cathedral, the Passage Pommeraye, the Lieu Unique and even the little fishing village of Trentemoult, Nantes still has other delights in store, this time some well-hidden ones! Secret dens, protected havens of nature and unusual places that even the locals often don't know about.

Fancy having a look around this sports hall that occupies the magical setting of an old-style department store? What about this amazing bar that houses a Nantes boules pitch open to all? Or this terrace hidden from the sight of passers-by, raised up in front of the Basilique Saint-Nicolas? Take a little stroll in images through the streets of this Loire city to explore these amazing finds.