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Patrons chat and drink outside the entrance to Le Cellier, with a large sign overhead, and a few empty tables nearby

Outside Le Cellier.

Le Cellier

The 15 Essential Nantes Restaurants

Where to find spiced lamb tortellini, mandarin cream-filled eclairs, spider crabs in amontillado sherry, and honey sourdough croissants in Nantes

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Outside Le Cellier.

| Le Cellier

Once a stronghold for French shipbuilding, Nantes was in dire need of reinvention when its last shipyards closed in the late 1980s. Then-Mayor Jean-Marc Ayrault and entrepreneur/artistic director Jean Blaise launched a radical revitalization project to transform the sleepy city into a hub for the arts, innovation, and environmental practices. In the mid-2000s, the Île de Nantes in the middle of the city became home to a fleet of mechanical marvels in the quirky, theme-park-like Les Machines de l’Île, which includes a hybrid motorized 40-foot-high mechanical elephant as well as other homages to Jules Verne, the city’s most famous former resident. In 2012, the city began celebrating its rebirth with Voyage à Nantes, an annual culture festival and surrealist art trail that threads through the city.

The effects of the experiment in urban regeneration continue to play out surrounding the park: new housing developments, restaurants, wine bars, and specialty coffee shops, all helping propel Nantes from tourism desert to destination. Under current environmentalist Mayor Johanna Rolland, the city has cemented its reputation as a smart, forward-looking metropolis, quickly attracting new residents from all across France, including many from Paris. The city lost much of its historic architecture during World War II (save for the old quarter dotted with Haussmannian and art nouveau buildings), but it makes up for it with quirky, modern architecture, eco-development, tons of green space, and a flourishing creative community.

The mix of stellar quality of life and business opportunity in Nantes has drawn food entrepreneurs and chefs from more established dining cities such as Paris, Marseille, and Lyon. Restaurants tend to focus on local and largely organic producers, and they maintain a palpable commitment to sustainable food practices in keeping with Nantes’s green credentials. As you make your own Voyage à Nantes, here are 15 spots, from bistros to bakeries, to stop along the way.

Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; it may pose a risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial COVID transmission.

Prices per person, excluding alcohol:

$ = Less than 20 euros (Less than $22 USD)
$$ = 20 - 50 euros ($22 - $56 USD)
$$$ = 51 - 100 euros ($57 - $113 USD)
$$$$ = 101 euros and up ($114 USD and up)

Lindsey Tramuta is a Paris-based writer and the author of The New Paris and The New Parisienne: The Women & Ideas Shaping Paris.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Le Manoir De La Régate

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155 Rte de Gachet
44300 Nantes, France
02 40 18 02 97
Visit Website

This Michelin-starred institution, located in a vine-covered old manor just north of the city, got a fresh update when the former owner’s son, Mathieu Pérou, took over four years ago. With his sister, Anne-Charlotte, in charge of the dining room, the 28-year-old chef and his team serve up inventive dishes with ingredients sourced from nearly 40 producers around the Erdre river — from lamb and seaweed to freshwater fish — a commitment that earned them a Green Star (in recognition of sustainable cooking practices) from the Michelin Guide in 2021.  [$$$]

A small mound topped with colorful drizzles and bits of flowers in a ceramic dish
An artful dish from Le Manoir De La Régate.
Le Manoir De La Régate

2. Le Cellier

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66 Rue Maréchal Joffre
44000 Nantes, France
06 62 64 51 66
Visit Website

When you’re not in the mood for a full-fledged wine bar or bistro experience, there’s this cave à vin and delicatessen. The wines are natural and biodynamic, the terrine is homemade, the tourtes vary week to week, and the rotisserie chicken and pommes dauphines are a fixture of Sunday afternoons in the neighborhood. Eat in or take it all to go with jars of jam, preserves, condiments, and a week’s worth of local produce. [$]

A roast chicken with thick pommes dauphines on a plate beside a bottle of red wine
Rotisserie chicken and pommes dauphines.
Le Cellier

3. Pickles Restaurant

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2 Rue du Marais
44000 Nantes, France
02 51 84 11 89
Visit Website

At British chef Dominic Quirke’s 7-year-old neo-bistro — among the city’s first — you’ll find a celebration of local terroir mixed with nods to his preferred foreign cuisines (often through sweet-sour combinations). Incorporating ingredients sourced from the region’s best fishermen, butchers, and growers, dishes may range from hake pad thai dressed with cauliflower and zucchini to spiced lamb tortellini with chickpeas in a chorba-style soup. Last-minute reservations can be tough to snag, so plan ahead. [$$]

Scallops in a bowl with herbs and vegetables
Scallops.
Pickles Restaurant

4. L’Aménité

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4 Rue Fénelon
44000 Nantes, France
02 40 20 03 46
Visit Website

There’s a lot going on at this spot from chef Richard Cornet: his unmistakable affection for Klein blue and rococo Jean Paul Gaultier fabrics, an eye for contemporary ceramics and aesthetic plating, and a mastery of bistronomic cooking. While the three- to five-course lunch and dinner menus are ever-changing, you might be served chicken liver terrine to start, red mullet paired with fennel, carrot, and passionfruit as a main, and a matcha quince calamansi pavlova to finish off the meal. [$$]

From above, a colorful plate of fried fish, chopped spiced vegetables, and herbs
Smoked cod accra, lemon cumin carrot, hibiscus, mint.
L’Aménité/Facebook

5. Esthète Pâtisserie

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1 bis Rue Mercœur
44000 Nantes, France
02 55 10 11 92
Visit Website

One of the city’s leading fine pastry shops is run by yet another pair of former Parisians who wanted a change of pace (and perhaps a less-saturated sweets scene). Chef Julien Merceron brings years of experience from À La Mère de Famille and the Michelin-starred kitchens of Ritz Paris, while florist-turned-pâtissier Gérard Porte lends his aesthetic sensibility to a seasonal collection of revisited classics, including the Saint-Honoré or tarte tatin; a variety of shortbread cookies, chocolates, and candies; and a tea salon where you can (and should) dig into locally roasted coffee, Brittany ciders, or tea. [$]

6. Sources

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22 Rue de Verdun
44000 Nantes, France
02 40 89 42 42
Visit Website

Ingrid Deffein and Guillaume Decombat took over a creperie and turned it into one of the city’s most promising neo-bistros with an elegant but not overly designed style. The couple keeps your attention on the food, which is as visually arresting as it is eclectic. Much of the food pays homage to the region: Vegetables are sourced from Les Vergers du Bois Macé, northeast of the city, and fish from the Atlantic Coast, an hour’s drive away. Expect bright pairings like tomatoes cooked several ways and served with black olive tapenade and yuzu tapioca; a perfect soft-boiled egg on a bed of asparagus and smoked croutons; or line-caught white tuna in a tiger’s milk marinade and topped with apricots and almonds. [$$]

A restaurant interior with a blond wood bar and a dining room visible beyond
Inside Sources.
Sources

7. Vacarme

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5 Rue des Bons Français
44000 Nantes, France
09 87 34 18 82
Visit Website

Before she captured national attention as a finalist on Top Chef, Sarah Mainguy co-founded this popular cave à manger in the city’s Bouffay neighborhood. There, she serves up unpretentious, plant-forward small plates that she calls “funky,” alongside specialty coffee and natural and biodynamic wines sourced directly from local winemakers by her partner, Damien Crémois. If you’re lucky, the menu might include potatoes, chard, and sea beans combined with egg yolk and hazelnut emulsion; hay-roasted carrots in a caramelized onion jus served on cardamom-infused spelt; and pepper cream topped with cherries, dehydrated meringue in nori, and purple basil. [$$]

Diners at patio tables outside a restaurant with a stone facade
Outside Vacarme.
Vacarme

8. Sepia

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1 Quai Turenne
44000 Nantes, France
02 51 82 71 59
Visit Website

After years spent working for the Michelin-starred chefs Gérald Passedat and Alexandre Mazzia in Marseille, Lucie Berthier Gembara brought a bit of that Mediterranean flavor back to her hometown to open this casual neo-bistro in the city center. Dishes change regularly throughout the seasons, but you can expect a year-round focus on vegetables and fish. There might be green gazpacho with fresh goat cheese coated in summer savory; smoked pollack with roasted broccoli, black gnocchi, and squash in a saffron sabayon sauce; and for dessert, homemade labneh topped with za’atar and fig-olive tapenade. If the weather allows, request a table on the terrace and book the Grand Voyage menu for six courses that demonstrate Gembara’s range. [$$]

From above, bright colorful vegetables in foam
A foamy dish.
Sepia

9. Roza

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3 Pl. de la Monnaie
44000 Nantes, France
02 40 54 01 87
Visit Website

After 10 years in Paris, chef Jean-François Pantaleon left the city behind (along with his much-loved neo-bistro Coretta) for the Graslin neighborhood in the center of Nantes. In 2017, he opened his new gastronomic bistro in a stunning space with exposed brick, oversize mirrors, and velour banquettes, and he earned his own Michelin star in 2021. Dishes rotate regularly, but you can bank on the chef’s signature ris de veau, grilled on one side and tender on the other, served with seasonal vegetables. Reservations are highly recommended. [$$]

A burnished piece of ris de veau, beside a colorful assortment of vegetables
Ris de veau.
Roza

10. Ramen Ya

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26 Rue de la Fosse
44000 Nantes, France

The more casual sister restaurant to chef Anthony Nguyen’s Izakaya Joyi, this sliver of a ramen bar with nonstop service stays busy throughout the day. Choose among pork, chicken, or vegetable broth for the excellent iekei ramen (homemade from local rice flour, of course), and load up on gyoza and/or chashu don too. Then place your order and snatch the first barstool available at the counter; the space fills up fast. [$]

From above, a bowl of shiro tantanmen, resting in the sun. Hard boiled egg, noodles, greens, and other toppings float on top
Shiro tantanmen.
Ramen Ya

11. L'Ourse

Copy Link
1 Rue Montesquieu
44000 Nantes, France
02 40 73 06 69
Visit Website

Céline Mingam’s unfussy, market-fresh cooking earned her a following in Arles before she set up this intimate bistro sandwiched between Nantes’s Dobrée Museum and the Natural History Museum. It’s the ideal spot for a light but nourishing lunch, which might include the chef’s signature, a mollet egg with beluga lentils in a celery emulsion topped with croutons, or a filet of pollock served on a bed of Sardinian fregola with sunchokes and bacon jus. And to finish, don’t forget the caramelized pear and almond dacquoise cake with salted-butter caramel. [$]

A large chunk of pork in broth, with a whole carrot and various toppings
Pork with candied, mashed, and juiced carrots.
L’Ourse/Facebook

12. Omija

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54 Rue Fouré
44000 Nantes, France
02 40 74 81 05
Visit Website

It’s no surprise that chef Romain Bonnet previously worked under the tutelage of Pierre Gagnaire in Paris; Bonnet’s style is bold and creative, and he’s got a particular gift for teasing out ingredients with a blend of savory, sweet, sour, bitter, and spicy flavors. Hence the name Omija after a Korean berry known for combining those five flavors harmoniously. Expect dishes such as spider crab from Loctudy in amontillado with minty sunchokes and an eclair filled with mandarin cream and Yunnan tea.  [$$]

A restaurant interior, with rows of pendant lights above tables, soft wood and plants, and an open kitchen in the back
Inside Omija.
Omija

13. Maison Arlot Cheng

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36 Rue La Noue Bras de Fer
44200 Nantes, France
02 28 21 28 07
Visit Website

A combination bakery, specialty coffee shop, and all-day cafe, this creative spot fits into the spirit of the Île de Nantes perfectly. Locals flock to the minimalist space with big windows and clean lines for honey sourdough croissants, a variety of breads (from country loaves and focaccia to Japanese milk bread), seasonal tarts, brioche, bostocks, and cookies. There are also a variety of savory dishes like soups, toasties, pizzas, and smørrebrød with smoked rainbow trout, ricotta, sumac, radishes, and pickles. Perhaps the only thing on the menu that isn’t local is the coffee, which comes from New Zealand’s Allpress Espresso. [$]

Two small pastries topped in the center with a swirl of cream surrounded by sliced figs
A figgy dessert.
Maison Arlot Cheng

14. Painbar

Copy Link
5 Pl. de la République
44200 Nantes, France
09 54 05 27 46
Visit Website

This hybrid space on the Île de Nantes is a sourdough bakery by day and a bar-restaurant by night. Come for the bread and stay for the salads and hot dishes made from organic produce (look for the veggie grilled cheese on house bread). Then come back at night for creative cocktails, local craft beer, natural wines, and tapas-style nibbles. [$]

A large dark bread loaf, decorated with large cuts
Sourdough loaf.
Painbar

15. La Cantine du Voyage

Copy Link
20 Quai des Antilles
44200 Nantes, France
02 72 64 04 79
Visit Website

This pop-up restaurant, part of the annual Voyage à Nantes festival, occupies the banks of the Loire on the Île de Nantes in a giant, collapsible greenhouse. Most years, the 21,500-square-foot space is set up like a banquet hall and kitted out with art installations, long wood tables for communal dining, loungers on the terrace, a vegetable patch overseen by a local farmer, cooking ateliers, and pétanque courts. Go for the rotisserie chicken and potatoes, craft beer and cocktails, and artisanal ice cream. The live music series makes this the event of the year when it opens each spring. [$]

1. Le Manoir De La Régate

155 Rte de Gachet, 44300 Nantes, France
A small mound topped with colorful drizzles and bits of flowers in a ceramic dish
An artful dish from Le Manoir De La Régate.
Le Manoir De La Régate

This Michelin-starred institution, located in a vine-covered old manor just north of the city, got a fresh update when the former owner’s son, Mathieu Pérou, took over four years ago. With his sister, Anne-Charlotte, in charge of the dining room, the 28-year-old chef and his team serve up inventive dishes with ingredients sourced from nearly 40 producers around the Erdre river — from lamb and seaweed to freshwater fish — a commitment that earned them a Green Star (in recognition of sustainable cooking practices) from the Michelin Guide in 2021.  [$$$]

155 Rte de Gachet
44300 Nantes, France

2. Le Cellier

66 Rue Maréchal Joffre, 44000 Nantes, France
A roast chicken with thick pommes dauphines on a plate beside a bottle of red wine
Rotisserie chicken and pommes dauphines.
Le Cellier

When you’re not in the mood for a full-fledged wine bar or bistro experience, there’s this cave à vin and delicatessen. The wines are natural and biodynamic, the terrine is homemade, the tourtes vary week to week, and the rotisserie chicken and pommes dauphines are a fixture of Sunday afternoons in the neighborhood. Eat in or take it all to go with jars of jam, preserves, condiments, and a week’s worth of local produce. [$]

66 Rue Maréchal Joffre
44000 Nantes, France

3. Pickles Restaurant

2 Rue du Marais, 44000 Nantes, France
Scallops in a bowl with herbs and vegetables
Scallops.
Pickles Restaurant

At British chef Dominic Quirke’s 7-year-old neo-bistro — among the city’s first — you’ll find a celebration of local terroir mixed with nods to his preferred foreign cuisines (often through sweet-sour combinations). Incorporating ingredients sourced from the region’s best fishermen, butchers, and growers, dishes may range from hake pad thai dressed with cauliflower and zucchini to spiced lamb tortellini with chickpeas in a chorba-style soup. Last-minute reservations can be tough to snag, so plan ahead. [$$]

2 Rue du Marais
44000 Nantes, France

4. L’Aménité

4 Rue Fénelon, 44000 Nantes, France
From above, a colorful plate of fried fish, chopped spiced vegetables, and herbs
Smoked cod accra, lemon cumin carrot, hibiscus, mint.
L’Aménité/Facebook

There’s a lot going on at this spot from chef Richard Cornet: his unmistakable affection for Klein blue and rococo Jean Paul Gaultier fabrics, an eye for contemporary ceramics and aesthetic plating, and a mastery of bistronomic cooking. While the three- to five-course lunch and dinner menus are ever-changing, you might be served chicken liver terrine to start, red mullet paired with fennel, carrot, and passionfruit as a main, and a matcha quince calamansi pavlova to finish off the meal. [$$]

4 Rue Fénelon
44000 Nantes, France

5. Esthète Pâtisserie

1 bis Rue Mercœur, 44000 Nantes, France

One of the city’s leading fine pastry shops is run by yet another pair of former Parisians who wanted a change of pace (and perhaps a less-saturated sweets scene). Chef Julien Merceron brings years of experience from À La Mère de Famille and the Michelin-starred kitchens of Ritz Paris, while florist-turned-pâtissier Gérard Porte lends his aesthetic sensibility to a seasonal collection of revisited classics, including the Saint-Honoré or tarte tatin; a variety of shortbread cookies, chocolates, and candies; and a tea salon where you can (and should) dig into locally roasted coffee, Brittany ciders, or tea. [$]

1 bis Rue Mercœur
44000 Nantes, France

6. Sources

22 Rue de Verdun, 44000 Nantes, France
A restaurant interior with a blond wood bar and a dining room visible beyond
Inside Sources.
Sources

Ingrid Deffein and Guillaume Decombat took over a creperie and turned it into one of the city’s most promising neo-bistros with an elegant but not overly designed style. The couple keeps your attention on the food, which is as visually arresting as it is eclectic. Much of the food pays homage to the region: Vegetables are sourced from Les Vergers du Bois Macé, northeast of the city, and fish from the Atlantic Coast, an hour’s drive away. Expect bright pairings like tomatoes cooked several ways and served with black olive tapenade and yuzu tapioca; a perfect soft-boiled egg on a bed of asparagus and smoked croutons; or line-caught white tuna in a tiger’s milk marinade and topped with apricots and almonds. [$$]

22 Rue de Verdun
44000 Nantes, France

7. Vacarme

5 Rue des Bons Français, 44000 Nantes, France
Diners at patio tables outside a restaurant with a stone facade
Outside Vacarme.
Vacarme

Before she captured national attention as a finalist on Top Chef, Sarah Mainguy co-founded this popular cave à manger in the city’s Bouffay neighborhood. There, she serves up unpretentious, plant-forward small plates that she calls “funky,” alongside specialty coffee and natural and biodynamic wines sourced directly from local winemakers by her partner, Damien Crémois. If you’re lucky, the menu might include potatoes, chard, and sea beans combined with egg yolk and hazelnut emulsion; hay-roasted carrots in a caramelized onion jus served on cardamom-infused spelt; and pepper cream topped with cherries, dehydrated meringue in nori, and purple basil. [$$]

5 Rue des Bons Français
44000 Nantes, France

8. Sepia

1 Quai Turenne, 44000 Nantes, France
From above, bright colorful vegetables in foam
A foamy dish.
Sepia

After years spent working for the Michelin-starred chefs Gérald Passedat and Alexandre Mazzia in Marseille, Lucie Berthier Gembara brought a bit of that Mediterranean flavor back to her hometown to open this casual neo-bistro in the city center. Dishes change regularly throughout the seasons, but you can expect a year-round focus on vegetables and fish. There might be green gazpacho with fresh goat cheese coated in summer savory; smoked pollack with roasted broccoli, black gnocchi, and squash in a saffron sabayon sauce; and for dessert, homemade labneh topped with za’atar and fig-olive tapenade. If the weather allows, request a table on the terrace and book the Grand Voyage menu for six courses that demonstrate Gembara’s range. [$$]

1 Quai Turenne
44000 Nantes, France

9. Roza

3 Pl. de la Monnaie, 44000 Nantes, France
A burnished piece of ris de veau, beside a colorful assortment of vegetables
Ris de veau.
Roza

After 10 years in Paris, chef Jean-François Pantaleon left the city behind (along with his much-loved neo-bistro Coretta) for the Graslin neighborhood in the center of Nantes. In 2017, he opened his new gastronomic bistro in a stunning space with exposed brick, oversize mirrors, and velour banquettes, and he earned his own Michelin star in 2021. Dishes rotate regularly, but you can bank on the chef’s signature ris de veau, grilled on one side and tender on the other, served with seasonal vegetables. Reservations are highly recommended. [$$]

3 Pl. de la Monnaie
44000 Nantes, France

10. Ramen Ya

26 Rue de la Fosse, 44000 Nantes, France
From above, a bowl of shiro tantanmen, resting in the sun. Hard boiled egg, noodles, greens, and other toppings float on top
Shiro tantanmen.
Ramen Ya

The more casual sister restaurant to chef Anthony Nguyen’s Izakaya Joyi, this sliver of a ramen bar with nonstop service stays busy throughout the day. Choose among pork, chicken, or vegetable broth for the excellent iekei ramen (homemade from local rice flour, of course), and load up on gyoza and/or chashu don too. Then place your order and snatch the first barstool available at the counter; the space fills up fast. [$]

26 Rue de la Fosse
44000 Nantes, France

11. L'Ourse

1 Rue Montesquieu, 44000 Nantes, France
A large chunk of pork in broth, with a whole carrot and various toppings
Pork with candied, mashed, and juiced carrots.
L’Ourse/Facebook

Céline Mingam’s unfussy, market-fresh cooking earned her a following in Arles before she set up this intimate bistro sandwiched between Nantes’s Dobrée Museum and the Natural History Museum. It’s the ideal spot for a light but nourishing lunch, which might include the chef’s signature, a mollet egg with beluga lentils in a celery emulsion topped with croutons, or a filet of pollock served on a bed of Sardinian fregola with sunchokes and bacon jus. And to finish, don’t forget the caramelized pear and almond dacquoise cake with salted-butter caramel. [$]

1 Rue Montesquieu
44000 Nantes, France

12. Omija

54 Rue Fouré, 44000 Nantes, France
A restaurant interior, with rows of pendant lights above tables, soft wood and plants, and an open kitchen in the back
Inside Omija.
Omija

It’s no surprise that chef Romain Bonnet previously worked under the tutelage of Pierre Gagnaire in Paris; Bonnet’s style is bold and creative, and he’s got a particular gift for teasing out ingredients with a blend of savory, sweet, sour, bitter, and spicy flavors. Hence the name Omija after a Korean berry known for combining those five flavors harmoniously. Expect dishes such as spider crab from Loctudy in amontillado with minty sunchokes and an eclair filled with mandarin cream and Yunnan tea.  [$$]

54 Rue Fouré
44000 Nantes, France

13. Maison Arlot Cheng

36 Rue La Noue Bras de Fer, 44200 Nantes, France
Two small pastries topped in the center with a swirl of cream surrounded by sliced figs
A figgy dessert.
Maison Arlot Cheng

A combination bakery, specialty coffee shop, and all-day cafe, this creative spot fits into the spirit of the Île de Nantes perfectly. Locals flock to the minimalist space with big windows and clean lines for honey sourdough croissants, a variety of breads (from country loaves and focaccia to Japanese milk bread), seasonal tarts, brioche, bostocks, and cookies. There are also a variety of savory dishes like soups, toasties, pizzas, and smørrebrød with smoked rainbow trout, ricotta, sumac, radishes, and pickles. Perhaps the only thing on the menu that isn’t local is the coffee, which comes from New Zealand’s Allpress Espresso. [$]

36 Rue La Noue Bras de Fer
44200 Nantes, France

14. Painbar

5 Pl. de la République, 44200 Nantes, France
A large dark bread loaf, decorated with large cuts
Sourdough loaf.
Painbar

This hybrid space on the Île de Nantes is a sourdough bakery by day and a bar-restaurant by night. Come for the bread and stay for the salads and hot dishes made from organic produce (look for the veggie grilled cheese on house bread). Then come back at night for creative cocktails, local craft beer, natural wines, and tapas-style nibbles. [$]

5 Pl. de la République
44200 Nantes, France

15. La Cantine du Voyage

20 Quai des Antilles, 44200 Nantes, France

This pop-up restaurant, part of the annual Voyage à Nantes festival, occupies the banks of the Loire on the Île de Nantes in a giant, collapsible greenhouse. Most years, the 21,500-square-foot space is set up like a banquet hall and kitted out with art installations, long wood tables for communal dining, loungers on the terrace, a vegetable patch overseen by a local farmer, cooking ateliers, and pétanque courts. Go for the rotisserie chicken and potatoes, craft beer and cocktails, and artisanal ice cream. The live music series makes this the event of the year when it opens each spring. [$]

20 Quai des Antilles
44200 Nantes, France

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