5 quirky cultural spots in the Atlantic Loire Valley

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Atlantic Loire ValleyLoire ValleyCultural Heritage

Aurélie Stapf
© Aurélie Stapf

Reading time: 0 minPublished on 13 March 2024

If you’re after some culture on your holidays, the Atlantic Loire Valley is the perfect destination. Boasting a rich heritage, this region is home to many historic monuments, towns and attractions, as well as the artistic hub of Nantes, its capital. Here's a selection of key places we recommend you visit during your time here.

1/ The Royal Abbey of Fontevraud

The Royal Abbey of Fontevraud is one of the largest medieval monastic site in Europe. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it combines heritage, culture, lifestyle and hospitality. Founded in 1101, Fontevraud owes its power to the Plantagenets and its close ties with Eleanor of Aquitaine, Queen of France then England. In 2021, the abbey will inaugurate its new modern art museum, which will display the private collection of Martine and Léon Cligman, including pieces by Toulouse-Lautrec, Degas, Delaunay and Richier.

2/ The Machines de L’Ile, Nantes

Climb on the back of a gigantic elephant, take a ride on the Carrousel des Mondes Marins or explore a gallery full of giant animals! Here, visitors can discover all the amazing mechanical creations of the Machines de l'île à Nantes, or visit the workshops where these amazing creatures are made. One of the latest additions to the Galerie des Machines is a 4.5m-high spider, plus visitors will be able to view the prototype for the future Heron Tree, a 35m-high structure due to be completed in 2023.

3/ Puy du Fou

Prepare to be amazed as you (re)discover Puy du Fou, the award-winning theme park dedicated to history and fantasy! Must-see shows include Les Noces de Feu, Le Premier Royaume, Le Dernier Panache, La Cité Médiévale and La Cinéscénie. Other highlights include a true-to-scale Roman arena, Viking live action scenes, a flying show featuring falcons, vultures and kites, the chance to see how knights lived, and a walk around a haunted house.

4/ Angers, capital of Anjou

Great museums, quaint houses, delightful shops and gourmet restaurants – there are so many places to explore on a city break to Angers! Discover the history of the remarkable 13th-century Angers Castle in the city centre, take a walk around the cobbled streets of the old town and explore the Maison d'Adam, considered by many to be the most beautiful house in the city. Also well worth a visit are the impressive statues of David d'Angers, the College of Saint-Martin, Terra Botanica, the Paillette shop and the La Doutre district.

5/ The Plantagenet old town of Le Mans

With its Plantagenet old town, dominated by the cathedral and bordered by a third-century Roman wall, Le Mans has been awarded France’s ‘City of Art and History’ label. Home to hundreds of half-timbered houses, Renaissance mansions and cobbled streets that transport you back in time, the old town has formed the backdrop to many films, perhaps most famously Cyrano de Bergerac (1990). Another must-see when in Le Mans is its famous racetrack, which starred in Hollywood blockbusters Le Mans (1971) and Ford v Ferrari (2019).

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