Clisson is a charming little village surrounded by vineyards in south of Nantes. It’s the perfect place for simply wandering around, giving you a relaxed change of scene. Today, I’m going to explain what makes a walk through Clisson so good and what you’ll see when you’re there.
Whether you’re a local in search of adventure for the day or a traveller wanting a good overview of what the Nantes region has to offer, you absolutely have to go to Clisson. From Nantes, it’s about 40 minutes by car and half an hour by train. It’s a really easy excursion to fit into a day and will definitely make you feel like you’ve travelled further afield.
If the name Clisson rings a bell, it’s probably because, each June, the town hosts one of the biggest music festivals in France and the biggest extreme music (metal, hard rock, etc.) festivals in Europe: The HellFest Open Air festival. The festival site is open to walkers and can be one of the places your ramble takes you through.
Strolling around Clisson is like a breath of fresh air. The town is located in the incredibly verdant Sèvre Nantaise river valley, surrounded by vineyards and with vines stretching as far as the eye can see. The setting is particularly charming, as is the short journey to get there, whether by car or train. Fans of the great outdoors may even want to enjoy it by kayak. The town centre is very pleasant for pedestrians. What with the castle, the covered market, the medieval bridge and the viaduct, there’s no shortage of things to see and viewpoints to enjoy.
But the most unexpected thing about Clisson is its Tuscan-inspired landscapes. It’s certainly not something you expect to see just a few miles from Nantes. The reason is that, in the 19th century, three artists and diplomats who had spent time living in Italy – the Cacault brothers and François Frédéric Lemot – took it upon themselves to renovate the town. Clisson therefore boasts architecture that is very unusual for the region, with tiles and bricks sitting alongside rounded windows and colourful shutters.
When visiting Clisson, I recommend starting with the castle, then heading towards the neighbourhood of Saint-Antoine via Rue de l’Échelle du Château and then on to the Domaine de La Garenne-Lemot, which is a small tourist attraction in its own right. This park was inspired by Roman landscapes. You’ll find ruins, temples, sculptures, grottoes, dovecotes and more. And at the heart of the park is the Villa Lemot, with its stunning colonnade and its terrace offering the best view over Clisson. Picture perfect!