Took a day trip down to Nantes. It was a beautiful city, and I love the addition of a little whimsy.
You can visit the 15th century castle and then stop by the Les Machine de I'Ile and see people operate a giant spider or elephant.
Then, walk by the 600 year old cathedral, or head to the art museum, and follow it with a walk through the park with sculptures and an enormous park bench.
Coincidentally, there also happened to be a carnival in town when I went.
The city is inspiring, interesting and fun. Great place to visit!