The stout ramparts of the château remain pretty much intact, and most of the encircling moat is filled with water, surrounded by well-tended lawns that make a popular spot for lunchtime picnics. Visitors can pass through the walls, and also stroll atop them for fine views over the city, for no charge.
The incongruous potpourri of buildings that encircle the courtyard within includes a major exhibition space used for year-long displays on differing subjects; the pleasant Oubliettes café/restaurant; and the high-tech Musée d’Histoire de Nantes. The latter covers local history in exhaustive detail. Highlights include a fascinating scale model of the city in the thirteenth century, and a determined attempt to come to terms with Nantes’ slave-trading past, displaying pitiful trinkets used to buy slaves in Africa.