Archive for April 10th, 2018

April 10, 2018

The littoral in Saint Nazaire!

Let me tell you about another not well known area for visitors. This is ,also an important port and full of history,not far from me. I like to tell you a bit about Saint Nazaire.  I did a blog post on it, so will concentrate on the history I like and others. Saint Nazaire is in the department 44 Loire Atlantique and part of the region of Pays de la Loire.

On the historical level, Saint Nazaire was part of the Bretagne/Brittany and united once came into the kingdom of France in 1532 and made into departments in the French revolution. The city is well known for the shipbuilding activity the shipyards here are one of only 6 in the world capable of building huge boats of more than 300 meters.  Saint-Nazaire is exactly located at the right bank of the estuary of the Loire river and just 50 km from Nantes. It is near the swamps or Marais de la Briére a wonderful natural park with many species of trees and animals, the second biggest humid zone in France after the PACA Camargue! The surrounding towns like a clock needle are Pornichet on the west, La Baule-Escoublac on the northwest, Saint André des Eaux, Saint Joachim, Montoir de Bretagne, and Trignac on the south, and beyond the estuary you have Saint Brévin les Pins. At the western corner or pointe de Ville-és-Martin there are a long cliff that you can walk along it with several beaches like the ones at the islands or lles de Villès-Martin, Porcé, and especially Saint Marc-sur-Mer.

On the transport side, the city has two expressway connection such as the ones going to Nantes, Rennes via the N171 at the exchange de la Moêre by the town of Savenay ; and on the D213 the blue road connecting to la Baule-Escoublac and Guérande. There is a nice bus network in the city call STRAN and intercity in the region call LILA. You have a train station gare de Saint Nazaire,(main terminal)  but also, the gare de Penhoêt and gare de La Croix de Méan. As well as the nearby Nantes Atlantique airport. At the Grand Port Maritime de Nantes-Saint Nazaire you have cruise ships stopping by Montoir de Bretagne and then visiting Saint Nazaire and the peninsula of Guérande. There is a huge bicycle trail in the network EuroVelo 6 also known as the  Eurovéloroute des Fleuves  or the route of the rivers , from Saint Nazaire to Constance in Romania long of 3 653 km crossing Europe from the Atlantic Ocean to the Black Sea, ten countries and on the biggest rivers in Europe, the Loire, Rhine, and Danube. There is, also, a local one call Vélocéan  that follows the Atlantic littoral in the department 44 of Loire Atlantique.

A bit of history I like.

At the moment of the conquest by the Romans in the 1C BC the site of Saint Nazaire was part of the Gauls territory of Namnétes (Nantes) on the frontier between the people of Vénétes (Vannes). Of legendary origins the Bretons came to Saint Nazaire by Brutus, the mythical ancestor of the Bretons and took a foothold here. At the end of the Roman empire, around the 3C , the Bretons come here and even into the Peninsula of Guérande. This area was called Armorique and eventually became the Bretagne. The maximum extension of the Breton language on the Loire reached a bit east of Saint Nazaire. A new town came in under emperor Napoléon III like the port of Nantes on the Loire, the ships could reach all the way so a substitution port was created, Saint Nazaire.

During WWI, the city became the most important entry port for the American troops and was here that General Pershing landed saying the famous word, Lafayette ,we are here!  During WWII by 1940, under the evacuation of the allied troops under operation Ariel ,the port is occupied by the Nazi marine and built a shipyard for submarine as well as a base ,the U-Boot bunker. The first three was finished in June 1941, and thereafter 14 more by 1943. The roof of these had 3 meters plus of depth and reinforce by a second wall of 30 cm on reinforce concrete with granites, and then a third stone wall of almost 2 meters that covered the entire roof except the rear ; these work continue until 1944. During the Normandy invasion, the Nazis retrenched here giving hard resistance in what was call the pocket of Saint Nazaire. The city was liberated 3 days after the surrender of the Nazis in May 11 1945 making it the last city in Europe to be liberated.

The area is world famous for the naval construction of the shipyards of the Atlantic STX France builder of such boats as the Queen Mary 2, Normandy, France and the biggest boats built such as the Batillus, Bellamya, Pierre Guillaumant, and Prairial. There is also aeronautical construction with Airbus located in Penhoêt near the shipyards of the Atlantique.

Things to see in Saint Nazaire are:

The Breton Dolmen des Trois Pierres, located in city center of the city! Tumulus de Dissignac just outside the city . Around the port you have plenty of entertainment such a multiplex cinema, and plenty of bars, restaurants, and discotheques as well as a new Theater by the old bus terminal. The Escal’Atlantic is a wonderful architectural walk showing the transatlantic cruise ships with a center of interpretation on the story of these boats built in Saint Nazaire between the end of the 19C to the 1960’s showing decorative arts, life on board, navigation and propulsion and business lines as well as almost 200 authentic objects from the France and Normandy cruise boats. The latest boat Harmony of the Seas was also built here! The biggest in the world!

You can see the Espadon, a submarine of the French navy disarmed in the 1980’s and today at the submarine base with a fortified levy located below the entry to the basin of Saint Nazaire and can be visited. The Ecomuseum of Saint Nazaire in the neighborhood of Petit Maroc, facing the estuary  ,it trace the history of Saint Nazaire from prehistory to our days with all the main periods of the city. The Breton musis tradition Bagad de Saint Nazaire, one of the first ones in Brittany with a Celtic circle showing traditional dance as well as foreign ones.

There you have an instroduction to Saint Nazaire, a nice historical town worth a detour en route to the more glamorous south.  I will give some webpage that will help you plan your trip to this city and area here!

Tourist office of Saint Nazaire :

City of Saint Nazaire on tourism:

Pays de la loire tourism on St Nazaire:

Loire Atlantique tourism about St Nazaire in French :

Enjoy the trip, happy travels, good health and many many cheers!

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