10am: Take on the castle of the Dukes of Brittany
Here, curious youngsters can learn all about the history of the town, as this beautiful Renaissance castle houses an interactive museum with exciting virtual reconstructions. The high ramparts and the moat, with their large lawns, are also popular playgrounds, as is the water mirror in which the former residence of the Dukes of Brittany is reflected. In fine weather, little legs love to wade in and be splashed by the intermittent water jets. Laughter guaranteed!
12pm: Playing hide and seek in the Plant Garden
It is an extraordinary garden with hundred-year-old trees, tropical greenhouses but also an enclosure housing greedy goats. Petting break and then off to the "Dépodépo". What is it? A playground with giant flower pots, perfect for climbing or hide-and-seek. The gardeners are pranksters at the Jardin des plantes! With the help of the children's writer Claude Ponti, they have also installed a gigantic bench and other more surprising ones... Hungry? The terrace of the Café de l'Orangerie, with a view of the swings and sandboxes, is ideal.
3pm: Elephant ride
On the island of Nantes, a former industrial wasteland that has become a tourist attraction, lives a large elephant weighing 45 tonnes and standing 12 metres high. Is it real? No, but almost! Completely articulated, it moves at a slow speed, blinks, barks and sprays with its trunk the bold who come too close. If you want, you can go for a ride along the quays in the gondola attached to its back. Oh dear, it's high! But very funny.
16:00: Take a ride on the merry-go-round
A mechanical spider, a giant ant, an XXL hummingbird, a heron and 4 wild geese... What a strange squadron! In the Machine Gallery, under the large nave which also serves as the elephant's home, some genius "Geo Trouvetou" have set up their workshop and are testing their fantastic inventions with visitors! A little further on, they animate the Carrousel des Mondes Marins, a three-storey merry-go-round where the parents are as excited as the children. The strange sea creatures in which you sit seem to have come straight out of a Jules Verne novel. We love the storm boat, but the abyssal fish, the ruddered manta ray and the retropropelled squid are not bad either. Try it, it's unique in the world!
11am: Greeting Captain Nemo
Even those who haven't read them have heard of them: Around the World in 80 Days, Journey to the Center of the Earth and then of course 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea are books by... Jules Verne, of course! The writer was born in Nantes and you can visit his house transformed into a museum on the Butte Sainte-Anne, the local Montmartre. Right next to the Planetarium, you will come across Captain Nemo but, true to his legend, he is not very talkative...
1pm: Cross the Loire to Trentemoult
On foot, by bike or on rollerblades, the Quai des Antilles with its beautiful multicoloured rings is a nice walk. To get there, you pass under large cranes that recall the past of the Nantes shipyards. Impressive! For lunch, the Hangar à bananes offers a range of cafés, restaurants, terraces and deckchairs on the banks of the Loire. But we'll take a nap later! A bus ticket and here we go on a cruise on the Navibus: 5 minutes of crossing to the small port of Trentemoult, a miniature village with pretty multicoloured houses. Let's board!
3pm: Believe you are in Japan on the Ile de Versailles
In Nantes, for an immersion in Japanese country, just cross the bridge! The Ile de Versailles is a fantasy of greenery set on the Erdre, a few hundred yards from the city centre. Bamboos, waterfalls and flagstone paths leading to a tea house that is more real than life are a delight for young and old, especially in spring when cherry trees, azaleas and rhododendrons are in flower. On the Ile de Versailles, you can hire electric boats to sail on the Erdre, reputed to be the most beautiful river in France. Of course, children are allowed to take the wheel! Success guaranteed.
17h: Following the green line
It's very practical! In Nantes, it is impossible to get lost or miss an attraction. You just have to follow the green line drawn on the ground to go from one discovery to another, even more so in the summer during the "Le Voyage à Nantes" event. Along the way, installations, exhibitions and also very playful creations specially designed for children punctuate the visit: a "Ping-pong Park", a weightless play area as if on the moon or a large slide in the castle moat. Ask for the programme... But be warned: you will probably have to come back to see and try everything.
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