The estuary of La Loire

Mister Hulot's beach in Saint-Nazaire
Located at the mouth of La Loire’s estuary, Saint-Nazaire is completely edged by beaches facing out over the Atlantic Ocean…a real seaside town!  Famous for its port, flagship of the naval industry, Escal'Atlantic, the submarine ‘Espadon’ and its museum ‘l'écomusée…’ all this and much more just waiting for you to discover the history of the town.

Situated as it is between the estuary and the Atlantic Ocean Saint-Nazaire is truly a town at ‘the very water’s edge’.  With its population standing at almost 70 000 inhabitants (120 000 in the metropolitan area as a whole) this town has lots to offer whatever your ‘passion’ – cultural events/activities, shopping, leisure pursuits…
Facing as it does out over the ocean, with its recently upgraded seafront, many leisure activities linked to all things nautical are available, 20 beaches (two of which have the label ‘Handiplage’ – (accessible for visitors with reduced mobility) ; and its maritime port ‘Port Atlantique Nantes Saint-Nazaire’ the largest in France on the Atlantic coast. 

The tourism offer, is managed locally by the public establishment of ‘Saint-Nazaire Tourisme & Patrimoine’, and focuses on the area of  ‘Ville-Port’, the veritable heart of the destination. Tours and facilities are readily on hand to reveal to the visitors the fascinating history and development of this town forever etched in its maritime past:
  • Escal’Atlantic, tells the interesting tale of the transatlantic liners and their regular lines (a subject which is inextricably linked to Saint-Nazaire by virtue of its status as a major site for naval construction and former port for transatlantic crossings) ;  this site is also holder of the national quality label of ‘Qualité Tourisme’ ;
  • The submarine Espadon, this French vessel dates back to the 1950s.  It is moored in the fortified lock overlooking the port of Saint-Nazaire ;
  • L’Ecomusée the staff and the displays of this museum will tell you the interesting history of a town which was rebuilt twice in the space of a single century;
  • The boat trip ‘Saint-Nazaire sur mer’, discover this town viewed from the sea !  The very best way to admire it from every angle ;
There are also guided tours of the companies which give the visitor an insight into what has become of the founding industries of the town :  its naval shipyard, the aeronautical construction giant and the port. 
Over 2.6 million visitors have already discovered this offer.

Saint Nazaire, at the mouth of the estuary of La Loire

The estuary of La Loire
The bridge at Saint-Nazaire (3 356 m long and 60 m high) provides an impressive view out over the mouth of La Loire.  It is well worth taking the time follow the estuary back up as far as Nantes along the byways, you won’t be disappointed. Throughout this area where industry and nature coexist discover the perennial works of art from the three phased artistic project ‘Estuaire’.  Not to be missed are the emblematic ‘anneaux de Buren’ or ‘la Villa Cheminée’ by Tatzu Nishi.
Stop off for a short break in the quaint port of Paimbœuf with its brightly coloured houses, having taken in the typical fishing huts dotted along the coast at Saint-Brévin and Saint-Nazaire. Guardians of tradition, these wooden cabins perched on their strange stilts appear to look out in a placid manner over the immense cruise ships sailing by just a few metres away.   

Everywhere the flora and fauna have this subtle mixture of river and sea influences which can be found nowhere else ! Take a look! 
Why not prolong your journey just a little by jumping aboard the ferry (free of charge) at Le Pellerin or at Basse-Indre to cross La Loire… a unique experience awaits you!
Finally welcome to Nantes, the city of the Dukes of Brittany.  We strongly recommend you start by visiting the pretty fishing village of Trentemoult, we guarantee you’ll fall under its charm!