As an emblematic site in the town where Anne of Brittany was born, in the heart of the artistic and poetic trail proposed by the event organizer Voyage à Nantes, the château of the Dukes of Brittany is of major importance in the French Grand Ouest. A living memory of Nantes’ venerable history as an industrial hub, in 2018 the museum acquired new articles from the renowned Lefèvre-Utile biscuit factory (the château was already home to France’s largest collection of original LU objects). Located in the heart of a landmark district, the Nantes history museum portrays the city from its origins to the development of today’s metropolis. The 32 rooms of the trail shed light on the city and its evolution by depicting the major events that forged its identity.
The existence of the château stemmed from the determination of François II, the last duke of independent Brittany, who wished to render the monument at once a defensive military fortress against royal power and the main place of residence of the ducal court. Beautification work was carried on by his daughter Anne, the Duchess of Brittany who was queen of France two times (her successive husbands were Charles VIII and Louis XII). Different sculpted decors (dormer windows of the large dwelling, blazons, loggias of the “golden crown” tower) attest to the initial influences of the Italian Renaissance in France.
The primary object of the collection remains the monument itself. As a testament to the history of Nantes and Brittany, it constitutes a marker of territorial identity.
Its successive transformations over the centuries may be observed by visitors, who will discover the monument’s interior architecture at the same time as they wend their way through 1150 different items.
“Nantes and its history” is the concept chosen to orchestrate a continuing dialogue between the imposing monument and the museum collections. The thematic topics covered are heterogeneous: not only the history of ducal Brittany, the slave trade and colonial history, but also the Loire estuary, urban development, harbor activity, industrial history, the two world wars … and various social movements. All of these subjects resonate in one way or another with contemporary events.
The museum places Nantes at the heart of the controversial question of the slave trade and slavery itself. As of February 2019, “Cimarron” (name for fugitive slaves) was presenting more than 70 photos by the artist Charles Fréger on masquerades in the Americas. As of June, Amazonia will take up its quarters in the château to shed light on the history and the evolution of the populations inhabiting the Amazon basin through a multisensory experience propelling visitors into the heart of the forest. And up until November 2019, to discover or rediscover, Rock ! Une histoire nantaise, will be showcasing rock and roll in a distinctive heritage site. Finally, the year will be marked by the issuing of a new manga on the history of the château and Anne of Brittany.
In the heart of a major city, the château of Nantes is a not-to-be-missed center of cultural effervescence and an amazing exhibition area located in a unique historic environment.
- Free individual visits
- Guided individual tours
- Groups welcome
- Guided group tours
- Point of interest visible without visit
- Credit card
- Cheques and postal orders
- Holiday vouchers
- SNCF train station at 0,8 km
- Airport / aerodrome at 10 km
- Port at 2,2 km
Services and equipments
- Picnic area