Basilica of Saint Nicolas at Nantes!

On the continuation of sunny hot days let me take you closer to me in the Loire Atlantique dept 44 of the region of Pays de la Loire from which many still think it is in Bretagne/Brittany. I take you to a dear city many times visited, the wonderful Nantes.

In while we are in this great city of the West of France, let me tell you a bit more on one of its monuments. The Basilica of Saint Nicolas or Basilique de Saint Nicholas, a great building and one of the sights to see while in Nantes.


Of course, I have written on Nantes several posts but not on the Basilica alone and it deserves a separate post so here I go. You can do search in my blog and find all the other posts on Nantes and al.

The Basilica of St. Nicholas dates from the 19C. The construction started in 1844 and lasted 25 years. It took no less than 15 years to erect the bell tower. The builders were faced with difficulties due to the narrowness of the terrain. They had to make an exception to the tradition, which meant that all the Catholic buildings should be oriented eastward, towards the Rising Sun, which represented the risen Christ. The Basilica of St. Nicholas has the peculiarity to be on a north-south axis. The Church is made of granite and stones. Its architecture is neo-Gothic style. The basilica is accessible by a door located on the right side, when you are behind, rue de Feltre. It is one of the two basilicas of the city, with the Basilica of Saint-Donatien-et-Saint-Rogatien

The Catholic webpage for it is here:




A bit of history I like

A Chapel or small Church branch is erected between the second half of the 11C and the end of the 12C. The hypothesis of a construction before 1186, based on the existence of a “cemetery Saint-Nicolas”, mentioned that year. At that time, the area was part of the Saint-Similien parish. In 1226, Pierre I of Brittany launched the construction of an enclosure that encompasses the Saint-Nicolas district.

At the beginning of the 18C, with the fortifications deteriorating, the Duke Francis I renovated the walls and rebuilt the Porte Saint-Nicolas (at the junction between the current  rue de l’Arche Séche and the rue  du Commander-Boulay). At the same time, the Church of St. Nicholas is the subject of renovations. Its name is mentioned for the first time on a document of 1444. The before mentioned renovation  lasts between 1766-1772 is thus the final touch to the old building which has three naves separated by a large pillar. The bedside is flat. Its apse was located at the site of the present Rue Affre, and it could be accessed from the south from the place Félix-Fournier. The main entrance is to the south, via a porch, located at the level of the current place Félix-Fournier. The church always presents its monumental stained glass and its ornate altar.  The construction of the present church ranges from 1844 (laying of the first stone) to 1869 (blessing of the building) on a confined ground which obliges it to be oriented on a north-south axis, and not east-west as the Christian tradition would like. The Church is built in granite of the region, as well as in hard stones and tufa of Touraine. It is erected in minor Basilica on October 26, 1882 by Pope Leo XIII.

The Basilica Church is severely damaged during the allied bombardment of September 16, 1943 which affects the whole district , including part of the Place Royale, nearby, and the rue de Calvaire that runs along the north.  The war ended, the reconstruction site began in 1953 and lasted until 1974.

A brief description on the architecture by an amateur enthusiast , me.

The Basilica consists of four buildings: the porch tower, the nave of the faithful, the transept and the bedside composed of five radiant chapels. The bedside is therefore polygonal. The nave is of eight spans including those of the transept, the choir is composed of six bays, three of which are for the chapels of the apse. The roofs of the basilica are in Saddleback except the bell tower which is equipped with an arrow roof.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip to this wonderful monument are

A modern look at Nantes tourism in English:

Some info on the region Pays de la Loire in English:

Nantes is very easy to come from Paris as it is linked by airport and train station TGV and there is a wonderful airport express bus connecting the airport with the train station and the rest can be done on foot or a tramway! Enjoy the vist to the city of the  Dukes of Brittany oops!

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!



4 Comments to “Basilica of Saint Nicolas at Nantes!”

  1. How interesting that all Catholic buildings had to face the east! I had never heard that before and I was brought up Catholic! I thought that applied more to Islam! Beautiful building! 👍

    Liked by 1 person

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