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Nantes is the capital of the Pays de la Loire region in western France and is also in the Loire-Atlantique department. It was one of the major cities of the historic province of Brittany, making it culturally a Breton city. It is located on the Loire river, 31 miles from the Atlantic coast. In 2004 Time Magazine described Nantes as "the most liveable city in Europe".
After being occupied by the Gauls and the Romans Nantes was Christianised in the 3rd century, being successively invaded by the Saxons, the Franks, the Britons and the Normans, who laid waste to it in 843. Alain Barbe-Torte drove them out in 1050 and founded the Duchy of Brittany. During the 18th century Nantes was the slave trade capital of France, leading Nantes to become the largest port in France and a wealthy city. In the 19th century Nantes became an industrial city. The first public transport anywhere is believed to be the omnibus service initiated in Nantes in 1826. The first railways were built in 1851 and many industries were created.