Nantes is a Loire River cruise port in western France, located approx 50 km (31 ml) from the Atlantic coast. By population (around 620,000, metro over 910,000) the city is ranked the country's 6th largest.
Brittany's biggest city is strategically located along Loire River and near Bay of Biscay,. The most popular tourist attractions are a medieval castle (Castle of the Dukes of Brittany) and the Saint Pierre cathedral. The Musee des Beaux-Artes and the University of Nantes (built in 1460, re-established in 1961) are also here.
Near Nantes is Angers with its twin-spired Saint Maurice cathedral (built 12th-13th century). Also significant are Logis Pince (Renaissance mansion) and the Hospital of Saint Jean (built 12th century by Henry II of England, now a museum).
In the 9th century, the dukes of Brittany fought over Nantes with the Franks. By the 14th century, the town was established as a successful port harbouring around 1300 ships. The port town prospered under the 15th century rule of Duke Francois II. In the 18th century, sugar cane was imported into France via the port. The introduction of sugar beet and abolishment of slavery resulted in the town's decline.
Today, the port is managed by Nantes–Saint Nazaire Port authority (also operating port St Nazaire). The port's total area is nearly 1650 hectares (4077 acres / 16,5 km2).
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