Introduction to Nantes & Saint-Nazaire


At a time of stiff competition between regions, Nantes Saint-Nazaire is not just surviving but thriving...
Economic dynamism, accessibility, quality of life, a protected environment, culture and creativity: in all of these areas and more, Nantes Saint-Nazaire offers an embarrassment of riches.


Take two examples. The first: a 12 metre-tall statue of an elephant sculpted from wood and steel, a popular perch from which to discover Nantes. The second: the launch of the world's largest cruise ship, made in Saint-Nazaire and capturing the headlines of media outlets all over the world. Two 'XXL' images which embody the new dimension which Nantes Saint-Nazaire has entered. The former as a symbol of the dynamic spirit which reigns in the metro area, where the cultural and creative sectors are major growth drivers. The latter as an emblem of the boundless possibilities of naval construction in the Loire estuary, and more broadly the dynamism of a local industrial sector powered by high technology.

Two iconic images which neatly sum up the strengths of the local economy. Nantes Saint-Nazaire has succeeded in preserving its beating industrial heart, with specialist sectors internationally-renowned for their excellence… All while developing a thriving tertiary sector, with a particular focus on digital technologies. Nantes Saint-Nazaire is now France's fastest-growing centre of digital employment.


The economic dynamism of Nantes Saint-Nazaire is powered by a number of centres of excellence, with great potential for future growth and job creation. The metro area's government-accredited competitiveness clusters are fine examples of this dynamism in action: the EMC2 cluster, dedicated to advanced production technologies, Atlanpole Biotherapies for healthcare/biotechnology, Images & Réseaux for information and telecom technologies, IdforCAR for smart vehicles and mobility, and of course the Brittany Atlantic Ocean Cluster for the maritime economy…

The metropolis is home to some 2,200 researchers and 200 laboratories spread across companies, universities and specialist schools, in a region with a particularly strong academic community, including over 50,000 students. Strong numbers which go some way to explaining the atmosphere of creativity and shared innovation which prevails in the metro area. Here in Nantes Saint-Nazaire we attach great importance to team spirit and collaboration, central tenets of our local identity. One great example of this spirit in action - and the only initiative of its kind in France - is Neopolia, a network of 200 sub-contracting firms who have joined forces to punch above their weight in the aeronautical, naval, rail and marine energy sectors. Atlantic 2.0 is a similar scheme, bringing together 250 businesses specialising in web services and digital innovation. Not to mention the Creative Quarter, a cluster dedicated to culture and the creative industries.

The western tip of the Île de Nantes has been transformed. The former naval shipyard has metamorphosed into a hub of culture and creativity. The large-scale public art project known as Les Machines de l'Ile provides an original showcase for Nantes' creative spirit... from atop a giant elephant! This is the home of the Creative Quarter, 15 hectares of facilities housing creative businesses, specialist schools and laboratories focusing on design, architecture, fashion, theatre and performance, digital innovation, visual arts and video games...


Diversity is one of the great strengths of Nantes Saint-Nazaire's thriving economy. Our naval industry helped nurture the development of renewable marine energies (RME), making the Loire estuary one of the capitals of this thriving sector. With 2 offshore wind farms set for construction off the coast of Saint-Nazaire and Noirmoutier, the region is home to production facilities, R&D teams and other industrial assets which you won't find anywhere else in France, specialising in all aspects of RME technology. Nantes Saint-Nazaire is also France's second largest aeronautical manufacturing centre, with two Airbus factories and 5200 direct employees, powering the development of dozens of sub-contractors with just as many workers.

Standing at the crossroads of three of France's biggest agricultural regions – Brittany, the Loire region and Poitou-Charentes – Nantes Saint-Nazaire is also a leading capital of the food and agriculture industry and one of France's leading centre of research into food and nutrition, as well as being the country's largest agricultural port and second-largest MIN (market of national importance). The metro area is also a hub of innovation in healthcare and biotechnology, with facilities of strategic importance such as the Arronax cyclotron, along with renowned research institutions and small businesses with global reputations, such as the world's leading bio-analysis specialist Eurofins.


So many assets, so many attractions: it's almost too good to be true. But look at it objectively and you can't help but agree: Nantes Saint-Nazaire provides an environment which is uniquely propitious to the success of innovative businesses. Every year, Nantes Saint-Nazaire features near the top of lists ranking French cities by quality of life, in terms of both family life and business opportunities. As one digital entrepreneur put it, when asked to explain his decision to base his business on the Ile de Nantes, this is " The coolest place to grow!" A neat way to sum up the atmosphere of an ecosystem in which innovative businesses work together, rooted in a dynamic metropolitan area where the local authorities work hard to help businesses capitalise on opportunities. "The coolest place to grow" is also a fitting description of the superb quality of life here.

United in a metropolitan area of over 800,000 residents, the powerhouse of France's Atlantic coast, Nantes and Saint-Nazaire are beacons of what you might call the "art of living." The truly unique thing about these two port cities is that not only are they dynamic conglomerations with some of the highest rates of demographic growth in the country, but they are also eminently liveable urban centres offering a superb quality of life and a privileged environment. With an international airport offering flights to 65 destinations, Paris just 2 hours away by high-speed train (20+ trains every day) and the ocean within easy reach, every year thousands of new residents set up home in Nantes Saint-Nazaire.


In terms of the local economy and jobs, as well as quality of life for families, over the past decade Nantes has routinely topped the rankings of French cities. Everyone agrees on one thing: it's a great place to live. Because of the facilities and the environment, of course, but also thanks to the hospitality of local people. The metro area has always been a melting pot, resolutely open to the world.

Nantes Saint-Nazaire offers a huge array of housing options, from bustling city centres to village-like suburbs and small country towns within easy reach. The public transport service is excellent, with local trains, the tram system, high-frequency buses and more and more cyclists. Cultural life is buzzing right across the metropolitan area, making Nantes Saint-Nazaire fertile ground in which to grow your business while striking just the  right balance between family time, work, leisure and the environment…


Nantes, the sixth largest city in France and European Green Capital in 2013, has made a conscious decision to focus on culture to reinforce its image and appeal, in synergy with the city's entrepreneurial and industrial temperament. The many high-profile artistic events which take place throughout Nantes are an intrinsic part of the city's identity, and have played a major role in redefining the inner city: the 'Folle Journée de Nantes' for classical music lovers, the 'Voyage à Nantes' for a unique experience combining tourism with culture...

Saint-Nazaire is on the same wavelength. Without forsaking its industrial heritage, the city has reaffirmed its close connection to nature, with city centre beaches, the Regional Nature Reserve of Brière, the Guérande salt marshes and more. Saint-Nazaire also boasts a thriving cultural scene, with big events such as the Consonances festival of Baroque music and the Les Escales world music festival which draws 50,000 visitors each summer.

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