|région: Pays de la Loire|
|département: 44, Loire-Atlantique|
Nantes is situated at an elevation of 8 m on the banks of the Loire river, at the confluence of the Erdre and the Sèvre Nantaise, 55 km from the Atlantic Ocean. Nantes is the préfecture (capital city) of both the département Loire-Atlantique and the région Pays de la Loire. The city has a population of about 289,000 (2005), the metropolitan region (unité urbaine) has a population of about bout 545,000.
Originally founded as a town by the Gallic tribe named Namnèti around 70 BC, Nantes was conquered by Julius
Caesar in 56 BC and named Portus Namnetus. Christianised in the 3rd century AD, the city was successively
invaded by the Saxons (around 285), the Franks (around 500), the Britons (in the 6th and 7th centuries) and the Normans,
who laid it waste in 843. When the Duchy of Brittany (Bretagne) was annexed by the kingdom of France in 1532, Nantes kept
the Parliament of Brittany for a few years, before it was moved to Rennes. In 1598, King Henri IV of France signed
the Edict of Nantes here, which granted Protestants rights to their religion. During the 18th century, prior to abolition
of slavery, Nantes was the slave trade capital of France. This kind of trade led Nantes to become the first port in France
and a wealthy city. When the French Revolution broke out, Nantes chose to be part of it, although the whole surrounding
region soon degenerated into an open civil war against the new republic. In the 19th century, Nantes became an industrial
city. The first public transport anywhere may have been the omnibus service initiated in Nantes in 1826. It was soon
imitated in Paris, London and New York. The
first railways were built in 1851 and many industries were created. In 1940, the city was occupied by German troops.
The city was twice severely bombed by British forces, on 16 and 23 August 1943, before being liberated by the Americans in
1944. When the Vichy government of France in 1941 reorganised the French regions, the département Loire-Antlantique,
although historically part of Brittany, was separated from the région Bretagne and placed in the new région
Pays de la Loire. Until the 1970s, Nantes' harbour was located on the Île de Nantes, when it was moved to the very
mouth of the Loire river, at Saint-Nazaire. In the subsequent 20 years, many service
sector organisations moved into the area, but economic difficulties forced most of these to close. In 2001, a major
redevelopment scheme was launched, the goal of which is to revitalise the island as the new city centre.
[Text adapted from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nantes]