Welcome to Nantes
Spirited and innovative, this artsy city on the banks of the Loire has a history of reinventing itself. It was founded by Celts around 70 BC and in AD 937 it joined the duchy of Brittany. The Edict of Nantes, a landmark royal charter guaranteeing civil rights to France's Huguenots (Protestants), was signed in Nantes by Henri IV in 1598.
By the 18th century Nantes was France's foremost port, and in the 19th century – following the abolition of slavery – it became an industrial centre; the world's first public transport service, the omnibus, began here in 1826. Shipbuilding anchored the city's economy until the late 20th century and when the shipyards relocated westwards to St-Nazaire, Nantes transformed itself into a thriving student and cultural hub.