Nantes (näNt), city (1990 pop. 252,029), capital of Loire-Atlantique dept., W France, on the Loire River. It is an important industrial and shipping center with its ocean port at Saint-Nazaire. Recent renovations of the rail, road, and air transportation systems have contributed greatly to the area's economic development. Food products (especially cookies), naval equipment, metals, dyes, clothing, bicycles, and agricultural equipment are the leading manufactures.
The chief town of the Gallic tribe of the Namnetes, Nantes became an important trade and administrative center under the Romans. It was made an episcopal see in the 4th cent. Nantes was ravaged and held (843–936) by Norsemen and later (10th cent.) fell to the dukes of Brittany, who resided there until Brittany became part of France in 1532. During the French Revolution, Nantes was nearly stormed by royalist troops of the Vendée and was the scene of massacres by the revolutionaries in 1793. Nantes was a center of resistance to the German occupation in World War II, and its civilian population suffered ruthless reprisals.
Points of interest include the 15th-century castle of the dukes of Brittany, a 15th-century cathedral with tombs of dukes of Brittany, the Tower of Brittany, the Musée des Beaux-Arts and other museums, and the LU Tower. The Univ. of Nantes (founded 1460) is one of the city's many educational facilities.