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    Car hire in Nantes - The Best of Western France

    A thriving place at the mouth of the River Loire, Nantes is a fantastically creative city and one that's crying out to be visited at any time of the year. Once home to the Dukes of Brittany, it is France’s sixth largest city and today is blessed with a fast-growing number of well-conceived tourist sights for people of all ages.

    Nantes was the birthplace of Jules Verne, story-teller extraordinaire, and the city continues to bask in his imagination. Author of the best-selling novels Around the World in Eighty Days, Journey to the Centre of the Earth and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Seas, visitors can marvel at his many creations in an impressive house museum set on a hillside overlooking the Loire River.

    Other must-see attractions include the city's enchanting historic centre, the Quartier Bouffay, which encompasses Nantes Cathedral (Cathédrale Saint-Pierre et Saint-Paul), the amazing Castle of the Dukes of Brittany (Château des Ducs de Bretagne), the Museum of Fine Arts (Musée des Beaux-Arts and the Jardin des Plantes, one of France's most impressive botanical gardens.

    With a car hire in Nantes you'll have good access to the best of the Loire Valley wine region, which heads west from the centre of France until its outflow into the Atlantic. One of the world's most renowned areas of wine production, the Loire Valley is most famous for the high-quality Muscadet wines made in vineyards all over the Greater Nantes district, most notably Domaine de la Pépière and Domaine Luneau-Papin, two of the biggest names in the region.

    With over 65 years of international car rental experience, Auto Europe can offer you the lowest rates for your next car hire in Nantes, along with exceptional customer support throughout your trip. Our rental agents are happy to help you with your reservation, so make sure you give them a call on +441233225114 and they'll immediately find you the best deal.

    To find out what our customers thought about their recent Auto Europe car rental experience in Nantes, please consult our Nantes car hire reviews page where you can see their user ratings and read the comments they posted about us and our local suppliers.

    How is the traffic in Nantes?

    As with many large French cities, driving on the ringroad (périphérique) can be a bit slow during the morning and evening rush-hours, especially at the inner city intersections. If you're planning a sightseeing itinerary with your car rental in Nantes, it's best to organise the timing of your journey to avoid the busiest parts of the day. As a popular tourist destination, Nantes tends to be quite busy at certain times, so a good strategy is to avoid peak hours and opt for public transport to cover the shorter distances, or choose to walk in the historic centre where traffic restrictions can sometimes be a hindrance to your progress.For general advice on getting around the Nantes area and the rest of France by car, please see our France driving information page for information on local road rules, speed limits, driving distances, etc.

    Where can I park my car hire in Nantes?

    On-street parking in the city centre is limited to 10 hours, but for longer stays you can use one of the many car parks located in the city centre. Free parking is available on the outskirts of the city, plus there is plenty of on-street parking in operation in downtown Nantes, in the zones marked green and red (different parking rates apply). For those choosing to rent a car in Nantes, the most popular car parks for visiting the main tourist sites around Nantes city centre are Effia Médiathèque (18 Rue de l'Héronnière), Parking Graslin (Rue Jean de la Fontaine), Effia A.Briand (Place Aristide Briand), Parking Commerce (1 Allée de la Bourse), Parking Bretagne (Rue Mercoeur), Talensac (Rue du Bourgneuf/Rue le Notre), Parking Decré-Bouffay (18 rue Moulin), Parking Cathédrale (7 Rue Sully), Effia Gare Nord (Boulevard Stalingrad), Effia Cité Int. des Congrès (Avenue Carnot) and Effia Gare Sud (Quai Malakoff). Nantes also has a very efficient Park and Ride (P&R) system whereby visitors can park right on the perimeter of the inner city and travel to their chosen destination by public transport at very little cost.

    Nantes Airport

    Located a few minutes south-west of the city centre, Nantes Airport consists of one passenger terminal divided into four sections. Halls one to three are situated in the main two-storey building, with the baggage-claim and check-in desks on the ground-floor and departures on the upper floor. Hall four occupies the single-floor part of the terminal building. Although Nantes Airport is rather small in size, travellers will find all the facilities they need. Currency exchange and ATMs are located in halls 2 and 3, while a manned currency exchange desk is situated in hall 4. Free Wi-fi access is available throughout the terminal and allows visitors to surf the Internet for free. Various shops are located in halls 2 and 3, as well as several eateries such as a snack-bar, bakery, cafés and restaurants dotted around the terminal building. Several airlines, including Air France, Iberia, Nouvelair, Royal Air Maroc, Ryanair, TAP Portugal, Transavia France, HOP!, Tunisair, Volotea and Vueling operate at Nantes Airport. There are also seasonal flights provided by Air Lingus, Air Corsica, Air Mediterranée, Air Transat, BMI Regional, Europe Airpost, Jetairfly, SunExpress and XL Airways France, with routes to and from the UK served by CityJet, EasyJet and Flybe.

    It's easy to collect your car hire in Nantes from the airport because the desks are situated in a building in front of the terminal, next to the car park. Remember to have your voucher, a valid driving licence and credit card ready for pick-up. Make sure you know your rental conditions regarding insurance and fuel policy. Check the vehicle for any existing scratches or dents and mark them on a pick-up report. At the drop-off, your car will be inspected again for any new damage.

    Nantes Airport (NTE)
    Telephone: +33 892 56 88 00
    Address: 44346 Bouguenais, France

    What to do in Nantes

    There is much to see and do in Nantes, in fact a whole day can easily be spent just wandering around the old part of town visiting the cathedral and the magnificent castle that was once the seat of the Dukes of Britany. Here are a few suggestions to get you started;

    • Musée d’Arts: On the same scale as the Louvre and Musée d’Orsay in Paris, the magnificent Musée d’Arts in the centre of Nantes is the first port of call for most first-time visitors to the city. Founded by Napoleon in 1801, the collection features many masterpieces by Tintoretto, Rubens, Monet, Rodin, Kandinsky and Chagall, among others.

    • Passage Pommeraye: With its elaborate staircase, neoclassical statues and ornaments that climb up three floors, the amazing Passage Pommeraye is an impressive arcade lined with fashion showrooms, cake shops, avant garde jewellery boutiques and leather workshops. Famous for its beautiful entrance, the arcade was built in 1843 and today stands as one of the most inspired attractions in the whole of the city.

    • Quartier Bouffay: Nantes' Old Town (Quartier Bouffay) is a delightful huddle of medieval brown-and-white timber buildings and narrow cobblestone streets. Most visitors enter the district through the Porte Saint-Pierre, the main entrance point during the Middle Ages when the entire town was surrounded by defensive walls. In the Quartier Bouffay you can relax, stop at a small bakery for oven-baked cakes, take a break at a little café or dine at a traditional restaurant.

    • Château des Ducs de Bretagne: Built over the course of centuries, the imposing Château des Ducs de Bretagne is a monument to the city's long history. Once home to Anne de Bretagne (twice the Queen of France), its construction began in the 15th century and today the castle is one of the most visited in the country.

    • Nantes Cathedral: Founded in 1434, Nantes' Gothic Cathedral took more 450 years to complete. Its key features include the tomb of François II and Marguerite de Foix, along with its 11th-century Romanesque crypt which houses an exhibition of the cathedral's history. King Henry IV signed the Edict of Nantes inside the cathedral in 1598, thus guaranteeing freedom of religious practices to French Protestants, the Huguenots.

    • Île Feydeau: Once an island in the Loire River flowing through the heart of Nantes, Île Feydeau today is a well-preserved historic quarter full of opulent houses once belonging to the most important shipping magnates of the 1700s when Nantes was a bustling port.

    Best day trips with my car rental in Nantes

    Nantes lies less than 50 kilometres from the Atlantic Ocean, which means that visitors can combine a few days of splendid city sightseeing with a period of relaxation on the region's many sandy beaches.


    15 minutes south of Nantes lies the muscadet wine region with many large, well organised vineyards to visit. The journey to Clisson in the heart of the region is an absolute delight with a car hire in Nantes, passing many old châteaux and some lovely little medieval villages en route.


    An hour and a half's drive due north of Nantes brings you to Rennes, a lovely old town and the former capital of the Brittany region. Don't miss its delightful Romanesque abbey, the Notre-Dame en Saint-Melaine, which dazzles visitors with its elaborately-sculpted façade and finely-detailed cloister.


    About a hundred kilometres north-west of Nantes lies Morbihan, a protected area full of megalithic sites. These unique stone structures are the most ancient in the world (even older than Stonehenge and the pyramids of Egypt!) and provide evidence of a prehistoric culture of which almost nothing is known.

    La Baule

    La Baule (just over an hour's drive west of Nantes) is one of France's top Atlantic seaside resorts. Nestling on the Loire River estuary, it has several miles of fine sandy beaches and a sea-front promenade lined with cafés, bars, ice cream parlours and small family-run eateries serving fine home-made cuisine.


    The picture-book village of Rochefort-en-Terre is the perfect spot for a nice drive out from Nantes to enjoy a lingering al fresco lunch in the main square. Considered one of France's most beautiful places, its historic centre is full of artists' workshops hidden away in attractive half-timbered, old stone houses featuring window sills bursting with bright geraniums. Don't forget your camera!

    How to get around Nantes

    Tramways, buses, navibuses, bikes and car-sharing services are all readily available in and around Nantes city centre. The Navibus Loire N1 provides a crossing on the Loire between Trentemoult (south bank) and Nantes’ river port (north bank), while Navibus N2 crosses the river between Hangar à Bananes (on the île de Nantes) and the Bas-Chantenay district. Navibus N3 links Port Boyer to the University faculties at Petit Port on the River Erdre. With the ferry you can cross the river for free at two points - between Basse-Indre and Indret and between Couëron and Le Pellerin. Passengers arriving at Nantes Airport can reach the city centre in 20 minutes with the airport shuttle, which also stops at Neustrie, SNCF train station, Le lieu unique/Cité des Congrès and Downtown (Centre Ville).

    Useful links

    Nantes Tourist Info