Nantes is a city in Loire-Atlantique on the Loire, 50 km from the Atlantic coast. The city is the sixth-largest in France. With Saint-Nazaire, a seaport on the Loire estuary, Nantes forms one of the main north-western French metropolitan agglomerations.
It is the administrative seat of the Loire-Atlantique department and the Pays de la Loire region. Nantes belongs historically and culturally to Brittany.
Nantes was identified during classical antiquity as a port on the Loire. It was the seat of a bishopric at the end of the Roman era before it was conquered by the Bretons in 851. During the 17th century, after the establishment of the French colonial empire, Nantes gradually became the largest port in France and was responsible for nearly half of the 18th century French Atlantic slave trade. Nantes developed robust industries after 1850 (chiefly in shipbuilding and food processing). In the second half of the 20th century the city adopted a service economy.
Nantes has been praised for its quality of life, and it received the European Green Capital Award in 2013. The European Commission noted the city's efforts to reduce air pollution and CO2 emissions, its high-quality and well-managed public transport system and its biodiversity, with 3,366 hectares of green space and several protected areas.
Food processing predominated during the Industrial Age, with sugar refineries (Beghin-Say), biscuit factories (LU and BN), canned fish (Saupiquet and Tipiak) and processed vegetables (Bonduelle and Cassegrain); these brands still dominate the French market. The Nantes region is France's largest food producer; the city has recently become a hub of innovation in food security, with laboratories and firms such as Eurofins Scientific.
Nantes capitalised on its culture and proximity to the sea to present itself as creative and modern. Capgemini (management consulting), SNCF (rail) and Bouygues Telecom opened large offices in the city, followed by smaller companies. Since 2000 Nantes has developed a business district, Euronantes, with 500,000 square metres (5,400,000 square feet) of office space and 10,000 jobs. Nantes is the third-largest financial centre in France.
The city has one of the best-performing economies in France, producing €55 billion annually; €29 billion returns to the local economy. Nantes has over 25,000 businesses with 167,000 jobs, and its metropolitan area has 42,000 firms and 328,000 jobs. The city is one of France's most dynamic in job creation, with 19,000 jobs created in Nantes Métropole between 2007 and 2014. The communes surrounding Nantes have industrial estates and retail parks, many along the region's ring road. The metropolitan area has ten large shopping centres; the largest, Atlantis in Saint-Herblain, is a mall with 116 shops and several superstores (including IKEA). Central Nantes remains the region's largest retail area with about 2,000 shops. Tourism is a growing sector and Nantes, with two million visitors annually, is France's seventh-most-visited city.
In 2014, 74.6 percent of the city's businesses were involved in trade, transport and services; 16.2 percent in administration, education and health; 5.4 percent in construction, and 3.7 percent in industry. Nantes is France's second-largest centre for aeronautics. The European company Airbus produces its fleet's wingboxes and radomes in Nantes, employing about 2,000 people. The city's remaining port terminal still handles wood, sugar, fertiliser, metals, sand and cereals, ten percent of the total Nantes–Saint-Nazaire harbour traffic (along the Loire estuary). The Atlanpole technopole, in northern Nantes on its border with Carquefou, intends to develop technological and science sectors throughout the Pays de la Loire. With a business incubator, it has 422 companies and 71 research and higher-education facilities and specialises in biopharmaceuticals, information technology, renewable energy, mechanics, food production and naval engineering. Creative industries in Nantes had over 9,000 architectural, design, fashion, media, visual-arts and digital-technology companies in 2016, a 15-percent job-creation rate between 2007 and 2012 and have a hub under construction on the Isle of Nantes.
Nantes is rated Gamma by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network (GaWC) which evaluates and ranks the relationships between world cities in the context of globalisation. Gamma level cities are cities that link smaller economic regions into the world economy.
Nantes is rated D+ by the Global Urban Competitiveness Report (GUCR) which evaluates and ranks world cities in the context of economic competitiveness. D+ cities are strong regional hub cities. Nantes was ranked #1110 by the Nomad List which evaluates and ranks remote work hubs by cost, internet, fun and safety. Nantes has a population of over 306,495 people. Nantes also forms part of the wider Nantes metropolitan area which has a population of over 973,000 people. Nantes is the #146 hipster city in the world, with a hipster score of 3.9529 according to the Hipster Index which evaluates and ranks the major cities of the world according to the number of vegan eateries, coffee shops, tattoo studios, vintage boutiques, and record stores per 100,000 city residents.