Market Guide: Loire Atlantique – Nantes

Many say that the really good weather in France starts just south of the Loire. If that’s true, then Nantes is the gateway to sunshine as the large city straddles the famous river.

The former capital of Brittany has a huge industrial base and depended on its shipyard for employment over the decades. When all of this industry closed down about 30 years ago, it was time for the city to reinvent itself fast.

Reclaiming enormous buildings and spaces that were formerly the infrastructure of heavy industry is not a new thing: Every major city has its renovated docklands. In Nantes, however, the importance of the docklands was great and it was matched with a level of application and creativity that you don’t see anywhere else. On top of that, of course, much of the architecture of the city centre was destroyed by the malevolent bombs of the Anglo-American forces during the Second World War.

The Machines Have Taken Over: Where once they built ships, now they build giant mechanical elephants and... centipedes.

The Machines Have Taken Over:
Where once they built ships, now they build giant mechanical elephants and… centipedes.

All of which is to say that Nantes should, by all accounts, be one of the most depressing and shabby post-industrial cities on the planet. It should be, but it’s not. It is, in fact, the opposite: a lively, friendly and industrious city that’s packed with interesting places and things to see.

There are 7 main markets in Nantes altogether. The principal and largest one, however, is the Marché de Talensac. This market is the most well-known and the most visited in Nantes. Its tradition and its location in the very heart of the city make it a veritable Nantais institution. It’s composed of three separate parts: a completely covered section, a semi-covered area and an open-air market. Sunday is the big day, when half of the city seems to gravitate to it.

Marché de Talensac is open every day except Monday throughout the year from 07:30 to 13:00. On sale at over 200 stalls are every imaginable vegetable, meat product, seasonal fruit, cake, trinket, souvenir and pretty much anything else you car to imagine. Access is via tram No. 2 (stop: “50 Otages”) or No. 3 (stop: “Viarme/Talensac”).

Where Exactly?

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Another market worth checking out for a very different but a very French atmosphere is the Marché des Bouquinistes (The Book-Vendors’ Market) over on Place de la Bourse (tram No.1). It doesn’t matter whether or not you speak French; it’s the olde-world literary atmosphere that’s the main attraction in the historical heart of the city with cafés buzzing around you in front of the old stock-exchange building on the edge of what used to be another branch of the River Loire. The market is on every Tuesday throughout the year from 13:00 to 19:00.

Where Exactly?

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Aer Lingus fly three times weekly from Dublin to Nantes; Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Flights operate to 12th September 2015. Fares start from €59.99 one-way including taxes. For more information on fares and schedules visit

Further links on Nantes:
Le Voyage à Nantes (great tourism website) (Official French tourism website)

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