Nantes is a creative, artsy city situated on the banks of the Loire, France’s longest river. Over the years, this city has gone from being a shipbuilding center to a thriving cultural hub. Renting a bike is a great way to get around Nantes, and with dozens of bike-rental stations around the city it’s always convenient to hop on and off. Pedal your way to Château des ducs de Bretagne, an impressive moated castle and an icon of the city. Entrance to the courtyard of the Château is free and offers great views of the city.

Next, head down to the Machines of the Isle of Nantes, a collection of whimsical robotic animal sculptures, complete with a carousel. The main piece of the collection is the 45-ton elephant, which can take up to 49 passengers on a 45-minute walk around the city. After biking around the city (and riding animatronic elephants, of course), take a stroll through Passage Pommeraye, a unique shopping mall filled with great shops and renaissance style sculptures.

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