The largest city in northwest France and the sixth-largest in France, Nantes is a center of history, culture, technological innovation, and green sensibilities. It's quite a wonderful place to live — indeed, it has been voted France's and Europe's most livable city on several occasions. On the banks of the Loire River where it joins the smaller tributaries of the Erdre and Sevre Nantaise, Nantes is approximately 35 miles east of the Atlantic Ocean, and like Paris it has an island, the Ile de Nantes, full of history and Nantes event venues, in the center of the city and in the center of the Loire.
The city's airport is Nantes Atlantique Airport (NTE), located approximately five miles southwest of the city center. It has service to Paris, London, Amsterdam, and Dublin, among other European cities, and there is seasonal service from Montreal on Air Transat.
Chief among convention venues in Nantes, La Cite Nantes Event Center, which has 30 meeting rooms, three auditoriums, 60,000 square feet of exhibition space, and room for receptions of 3,000 persons and meetings of 2,500. The hotel at the La Cite Nantes Event Center is the Novotel Nantes Centre Cite des Congres, which has 105 guest rooms and two meeting rooms of its own. Other excellent hotel venues in Nantes include the 162-room Mercure Nantes Centre Grand Hotel, which has 10 meeting rooms, the largest able to host 130 persons. The 142-room Radisson Blu Nantes opened in late 2012 in the former Palais de Justice building dating to 1851; it has six meeting rooms onsite and access to another 11 next door. The 108-room Hotel Novotel Nantes Centre Bord de Loire has four meeting rooms for up to 60 persons; and boutique offering L'Hotel has 31 guest rooms and one function room.
Unique gathering spots in this historic, green, cultural city include Les Machines de l'Ile Nantes, which is on the island, and is dominated by a huge metal sculpture of an elephant. Melding the imaginary worlds of Nantes' son Jules Verne and Leonardo da Vinci, change semicolon to comma it has numerous function spaces, including The Warehouse for up to 4,000 persons. Chateau des Ducs de Bretagne is the former home of the rulers of Nantes, dates from the 15th century, and today houses the Museum of the City of Nantes and gallery space along with function rooms. Musee Jules Verne, a wonderful world where the imagination runs riot, is in a building dating to 1828. Parc des Expositions, which is five miles northeast along the river Erdre, is part of the city's university and has a dozen exposition halls, including Rotonde Nord for 100 persons and Espace Traiteur Le Vallon for 400. Also available for gatherings is the Natural History Museum Nantes, which is in a building dating to 1810 and whose Hall of Earth Sciences has just been restored.
Perfect group restaurants include La Cigale, which is opposite the city's opera house, the Theatre Graslin; Le Bistro du Canard, or “Duck Bistro,” a brasserie with local cuisine, specializing in duck and other fowl; Altercafe, a relaxed spot — in some ways more Cape Cod than France — that is part of a set of restaurants at the tip of the Ile de Nantes where the two river channels meet, and Les Agapes, a traditional, somewhat formal restaurant with French fare and which has two rooms that can seat 30 and 39 persons, respectively, as well as a lounge for 16.