If you’re seeking the perfect French city to host your next event or incentive trip, your mind might naturally gravitate toward the glitz and glamour of Paris, Cannes, or Saint Tropez. While these destinations are undoubtedly iconic, if you’re looking to offer your guests a fresh, uncharted experience, why not go off the beaten track and consider an undiscovered gem?
Nantes, nestled in the heart of western France, has undergone a remarkable transformation in recent years, making it an ideal destination for event planners looking to host an event or incentive trip with a difference. This historic city seamlessly blends old-world charm with modern venues, hotels, and a vibrant cultural scene. As the birthplace of Jules Verne, creativity courses through its veins, boasting a permanent collection of 120 artworks in public spaces. Nantes is a place where imagination knows no bounds, leaving your guests utterly captivated.
Just a short two-hour journey from Paris brings you to Nantes’ new train station designed by French architect Rudy Ricciotti and conveniently located opposite the La Cité Nantes Congress Centre. From here the town centre is a stone’s throw away and a walk there takes you past Château des Ducs de Bretagne (Castle of The Dukes of Brittany), home to the Nantes History Museum, nestled in the heart of Nantes’ medieval quarter.
Venues and Accommodation in Nantes
La Cite Nantes Congress Centre This versatile event space is a seasoned host for large-scale events, accommodating over 300 business and cultural events each year. Whether it’s conventions, corporate gatherings, exhibitions, or live shows, La Cité can accommodate a wide array of events, ranging from intimate gatherings of 200 to grand conventions with up to 4,000 delegates. Notably, it’s renowned for its commitment to environmentally friendly events, mirroring Nantes’ dedication to sustainability (Nantes was the first city in France to be voted European Green Capital and the second greenest city in France).
Sozo Hotel A few steps away from the station is the boutique Sozo Hotel, a unique venue in a converted 19th century chapel, featuring stained glass windows and vaulted ceilings. There are 27 rooms and 2 small meeting rooms as well as a sauna, hammam and ‘ice-room’ available along with access to the lush Jardin des Plantes.
Radisson Blu Hotel Situated in the beautifully renovated neoclassical Court of Justice building from the 19th century, the four-star Radisson Blu Hotel Nantes provides an excellent central location to explore the city. Offering 142 rooms for business travellers, including nine fully-equipped meeting rooms, it caters to a variety of events. Whether you choose the old courthouse for up to 150 guests or the elegant, glass-roofed atrium covering 150 square meters, this hotel offers a grandiose experience. Just across the road, Goguette, once the administration building of Nantes’ old prison, beckons with its picturesque courtyard and is an excellent dining spot for up to 200, featuring a brasserie, rotisserie and seafood bar.
Okko Nantes Adjacent to the Château des Ducs de Bretagne, the 80-room, four-star Okko modern hotel boasts compact rooms with hidden bathrooms behind louvred walls and a functional desk area. Its minimalist design is enriched with luxurious touches, including heavenly organic Italian linens. Elsewhere in the hotel, a large communal room is designed as a homely space where guests can meet and relax and is available 24 hours a day, including a business corner, lounges, a fitness area, and a sauna.
Activities and Incentive ideas in Nantes
Ride a giant elephant at Machines de l’île in Nantes
A visit to Ile de Nantes is a must for event groups and incentives. This once-industrial wasteland has transformed into a vibrant hub, housing new bars, restaurants, and Les Machines de l’île, an urban fairground that’s home to a menagerie of mechanical animals. The star attraction is the Grand Elephant, a colossal 12-meter-high beast that offers a truly unique way to explore the area. Groups of up to 50 can embark on this interactive journey as the elephant roams the park. Onboard, you’ll witness the mesmerising gears that power its legs, hear stories about the elephant, and enjoy the laughter of onlookers as it trumpets its trunk! For those who seek more mechanical marvels, there’s a 3-tier carousel where you can choose your creature, perhaps a giant squid? This venue is available for events and performances (accommodating from 15 to 3,000 people) and aligns seamlessly with Nantes’ commitment to sustainability, supporting the cause of “Des Éléphants et des Hommes” and working to ensure their elephant doesn’t become the last on Earth a century from now. If you visit during the summer, don’t miss La Cantine Voyage, a pop-up restaurant offering a set menu featuring chicken, fries, and greens from the adjacent urban vegetable garden which can be privatised for up to 200 people.
Experience a slower pace at Trentemoult
Located further along the Loire River, the former fishing village of Trentemoult is a serene retreat. A quick 10-minute river shuttle boat ride from the city centre takes you to this picturesque village. Stroll along winding streets adorned with multicolored houses and exotic plants, where time seems to slow down. Along the quayside, you’ll discover an array of bars and restaurants serving delectable fish and seafood, best enjoyed with a glass of the local Muscadet wine. For a charming evening experience, La Civelle boasts a lovely upstairs room (privatised for up to 70 guests) with a balcony, offering a breathtaking view of the illuminated lights of Les Anneaux.
Experience a match at Stade de la Beaujoire
Home to FC Nantes and a venue for the Rugby World Cup 2023, La Beaujoire Stadium offers a fantastic opportunity to treat your group to a sporting extravaganza. The Stade de la Beaujoire in Nantes is also an iconic venue for business events, offering impressive capacity (from 20 to 500 capacity), modern facilities and a dynamic setting, it’s an ideal choice for seminars, conferences, product launches and corporate events. With a rich sporting history, this versatile stadium offers adaptable spaces, state-of-the-art technology, and dedicated staff to create memorable experiences.
Outside The City
For those who seek events and incentives beyond the city limits, the Atlantic Loire Valley offers a treasure trove of options:
- Escal’Atlantic Museum in Saint Nazaire a 3,700m2 space that can be privatised
- Ponichet host seminars by the sea at a racecourse
- Angers Terra Botanic Theme Park business meetings in the first plants-based theme park in Europe
- Vallis Guidonis Boat in Laval meetings and events for up to 100 people on the Mayenne River
- Echologia, Laval seminar space for 200 people on a river-based terrace with activities focused on eco-environmental initiatives
- Abbaye de l’Epau near Le Mans discover three unique venues for 50-1,000 people in a serene green setting spanning 12,000 hectares
- Le Mans visit a racecourse museum with exhibition and conference spaces for up to 800 people
How to get there
By Plane: Nantes Airport offers direct flights to over 100 national and international destinations, and it’s just an hour away by air from both Paris and London. From Nantes Airport, the city centre is a quick 10-minute car journey.
By Train: High-speed trains whisk you from Paris to Nantes in less than two hours, with 21 daily departures. Once in Nantes, getting around the city is a breeze. Cycle paths, trams, and the ‘green line’ – a painted guide – make exploring this unique city and its rich culture easy. Alternatively, you can opt for a guided tour. One fun option is the timed trail, where groups compete against the clock to solve clues while discovering key sights, including the 19th Century shopping gallery Passage Pommeraye (perfect for picking up memorable gifts).
Hosting Event Destinations in Nantes
Ready to craft an extraordinary event or incentive trip in Nantes? For more information about event destinations in Nantes, the featured venues, or any assistance with sourcing international venues, please reach out to our team. We’re here to help you explore the endless possibilities and start planning your unique experience.
For more international event and incentive travel ideas, or for information about hosting incentive trips, meetings, or events, don’t hesitate to contact the Evolve Events team. We possess the experience and local knowledge to assist you with venue finding, activities, and logistics to create unforgettable experiences.
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