Nantes might not be on the sea, but it’s still highly connected to water with its two rivers: the Loire and the Erdre. You can hop on the Loire’s Navibus public watertaxi and in 15 min. you disembark at the charming former fishing village of Trentemoult. You wouldn’t know you were in the Nantes suburbs while strolling its narrow lanes lined with colorful three-story houses, artist studios, and secret gardens. On your way back, grab a coffee at one of the cafes by the ferry dock. The small ferries depart regularly from the Nantes Gare Maritime on the Quai de la Fosse; the journey goes for a regular bus/tram ticket.

The Erdre River, deemed by King François I as "the most beautiful river of France,” empties into the Loire, hidden underground through downtown, but it pops above not far from la Tour de Bretagne. A visit to its Ile de Versailles offers various pleasures, namely its tranquil Japanese garden. In summer, you can rent small boats from its tip. Or better yet, take a leisure cruise along the Erdre to admire its beautiful plush landscape and graceful castles; Bateaux Nantais (http://bateaux-nantais.fr; tel. 02-40-14-51-14) arranges these trips which depart twice daily in summer (and several times weekly the rest of the year) just north of Ile de Versailles on the Quai de la Motte. The cruise lasts 1 hr., 45 min. and costs 13€; they also run lunch and dinner options.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.