Length 10.25 km (6.4 miles)
Pictures courtesy of the creative folks at Flickr CreativeCommons. Thanks!
Definitely the best route to run from the center of Nantes is up the Erdre River. There are paths along both banks, heading upriver for many kilometers, and the scenery is always nice: elegant buildings, pleasant neighborhoods, the university campus, woods, a Japanese garden, and lots of colorful boats and boaters of all shapes and sizes.
|Along the Erdre, photo by gemineo|
NOTE: Don't confuse the Erdre with Nantes' main river, the Loire. The Erdre flows into the Loire in Nantes, slipping the last 800 meters through the St. Felix Canal tunnel, past the old town. The Loire itself doesn't lend itself to nice running trails, with loud roads lining either side.
This route goes up the south bank for 5 km, crosses a bridge at Joneliere, and heads back along the other side.
So, if you've now laced up your running shoes, let's get to it!
The route starts at Quai Ceineray, where Rue de Strasbourg exits the north end of the old town. This spot is an old harbor, where river boats once unloaded their freight.
|St. Felix bridge span, photo by Diane Naoned|
|Running towards the Isle de Versailles, photo by zamito44|
The route description here is easy enough: just stay along the river. In a few spots, you need to go inland a bit to get around a woods, but just always keep heading left get back to the water, keeping the river on your left side.
|Talk about colorful: houseboats on the Erdre, photo by Diane Naoned|
In just 400 meters, you'll see a pedestrian bridge to the Japanese garden on the island, Isle de Versailles.
After the next bridge, where the Bateaux Nantais dock is located, there is a sign "Gare Fluvial", where you head down to the footpath at the side of the water. Most of the rest of the way, there is no more riverside road, just the quiet path.
|Rowboats on the Erdre, photo by Diane Naoned|
|Erdre boardwalk, photo by Mypouss|
Two kilometers later, after passing a boat club, you'll come to the turn-around point, where two bridges cross the river together at Joneliere. You need to go over the first bridge, the railroad bridge with the one long arch. The second bridge, the loud car-bridge for the NB44 road, has no pedestrian/bicycle lane. First run under the railroad bridge, then turn right to get onto the ramp which will take you up and over the bridge. Another ramp will take you down on the other side.
|Joneliere, photo by Guillaume Boisseau|
So now you just run back again. Similarly, part of the way has only a walking path, part of the way follows parallel to a street. But the streets are fairly quiet on this side as well.