Among the hundreds of parks existing in the city of Nantes, there’s one that I particularly love: The Jardin des Plantes de Nantes.
The Jardin des Plantes is located right next to the train station, making it the ideal place to stroll around as you wait for your train or for your friends to arrive in Nantes. But, it’s also beyond that! What makes this park worth having a proper look around are the thousands of different kinds of plants spread all over. Wandering through the park, visiting one or more of the greenhouses, and enjoying the café and play areas are definitely top things to do.
Created at the start of the 19th century, Nantes’ botanical garden has been classified as a “remarkable garden” and is today considered to be one for the top four gardens in France. It’s easy to see why as you explore its paths. Local species, some of which are a hundred years old, stand alongside specimens that for centuries have been brought here from all over the world. All in all, it makes for a beautiful collection and, in particular, a pleasant space brimming with shady paths, ponds and waterfalls, a petting farm, and antique greenhouses.
For me, the Jardin des plantes de Nantes greenhouses are one of the city’s most beautiful attractions. These charming glass, steel and brick hothouses date from the 19th century and early 20th century. They transport us to arid deserts that are home to thousands of cactuses, to the tropics, and even to a jungle filled with plants that grow on other trees’ trunks (epiphytes). It’s a botanical voyage of discovery!
Since no trip to Nantes would be complete without something a bit quirky, it’s also worth taking a look at the installations by Claude Ponti. On your way round the gardens, you’ll come across outrageous, twisted benches, animal-shaped plants, and plant pots that are pulling faces at you, among others. The installations are updated each year for visitors to enjoy as part of Voyage à Nantes.
If you visit the Jardin des Plantes, you’ll no doubt want a bit of a rest after all that excitement. So head to the Café de l’Orangerie for a quick drink or for lunch on a pretty patio surrounded by greenery in the heart of the park.