The marshlands of La Grande Brière are like a large mosaic of channels, shallow lakes, reed beds, water meadows and mounds. Both the birdlife and flora are rich and varied here. Most of the species of fresh water fish are also to be found in the waters of the wetlands.
Not so far from La Baule and Guerande...Come and discover The Regional Natural Park of La Brière which encompasses an area of wetlands which is one of the richest in flora and fauna in Europe. This constantly evolving aquatic environment has been passed down to us through the work of generations of men and women who have earned their living here.
A stone’s throw from La Baule and the salt marshes of Guérande, the wetlands of ‘La Grande Brière’ never cease to astound the visitors who come here. Its most beautiful landscapes best revealed by taking a trip punted along this vast network of channels,which crisscross the water-meadows, aboard a chaland – the traditional black, tapered flat-bottomed boat.
The 'Briérons' landFor many years the ‘Briérons’ drew their livelihood here by hunting and fishing, cutting down the reeds to thatch their houses and by digging-out peat, which was at the time their only source of fuel. They also bred livestock. Yet little by little their lifestyle changed…The ‘Briérons’ gradually abandoned their marshlands to find employment in the industries in and around Saint Nazaire. It goes without saying that this resulted in a significant rise in their standard of living. This mutation, however, proved to be detrimental for the marshlands. Hunting and fishing therefore became leisure pursuits. Livestock breeding regressed. The reeds proliferated and the peat was no longer excavated. Despite their undying ‘love affair’ with their marshlands, the ‘Briérons’ could no longer carry out the maintenance so important to its up-keep.
Regional natural parkIn 1970 The regional natural park of La Brière was listed as a ‘Parc naturel régional’ and as such is a conservation area for sustainable development and its natural and cultural heritage. There are many missions which are inextricably linked to being a ‘parc naturel régional’ all of which are governed by a specialist charter which is revised every 12 years. To find out more follow this link to the site of ‘Le Parc’: www.parc-naturel-briere.fr
A specific legal statusOne of the particularities of La Brière lies in the legal status enjoyed by the marshlands of ‘La Grande Brière Mottière’. The latter is in effect the joint property of the inhabitants of the 21 local towns. This is indeed not at all a recently acquired privilege as it was in 1461, that for the first time, official confirmation of ownership was proclaimed by the Letters of Patent of François II, Duc de Bretagne. Today, the ‘Briérons’ continue to enjoy ownership of their marshlands and the privilege of its sole management.
Video - Maintenance of the marshIn french.
The best way to discover the marshes from insideSeveral professionals offer trips in 'chaland' all around the marsh.