Bird Watching

10 reasons to visit Saint-Nazaire

10 reasons to visit Saint-Nazaire – France Today 10 reasons to visit Saint-Nazaire – France Today

Saint-Nazaire is a seaside town with international connections from the transatlantic liners and ships that depart from its shores to the artists who have painted the street art and murals that decorate the town. Here are our top ten reasons to explore the city’s beaches, parks, hikes and ships – there’s even a submarine to check out.

A perfect summer evening by the sea © Farid Makhlouf

1. The magnificent seafront of Saint-Nazaire: the ideal place to relax

Since 2000, Saint-Nazaire has had a facelift with new equipment and facilities. The paths have been redesigned so that pedestrians and cyclists can move around easily. You can now sit on one of the many terraces of the Commando Square and sip lemonade (or something stronger) while watching the tide come in or head to one of the new cafes that come alive once the sun goes down. The driftwood and rope play area near the Harbor Master’s Office is perfect for children.

Saint-Nazaire beach © Farid Makhlouf

2. 20 stunning beaches and coves

Several kilometers of coastline reveal 20 beaches and coves. There are two designated Handiplage, six with lifeguards in the summer, and one who starred in a famous French film, Mr. Hulot’s Holidays. In addition, three of Saint-Nazaire’s beaches have Blue Flag status. Visit Le Skate Park water sports center if you are looking for an active time or have young children, the central beach offers driftwood beach games to keep you amused. The coves around Port Charlotte and La Petite Vallée offer unparalleled peace for those looking to swim or read without distractions (other than outstanding natural beauty).

Saint-Nazaire Havana district © A.Klose

3. Havana neighborhood

The Havana district takes you back to the 1900s when shipyard engineers, wealthy merchants, ship captains or pilots from the Loire roamed its streets. Stroll along the waterfront and imagine the bustle that once filled the industrial city.

At the intersection of rue Henri Gautier and rue des Frères Pereire, you will find this painting of an Aboriginal boy by Australian Matt Adnate © Arnaud Glize

4. A city full of art

Stunning street art and murals can be found on the walls crossing Saint-Nazaire from Avenue de Lesseps to Avenue de la République, including a six-storey abstract composition by American Ellen Rutt and enigmatic figures painted by Chilean artists Inti and La Robot de Madera in the Petit Maroc Quartier, which lead you to the Loire estuary.

Les Escales Festival 2022 © Martin Launay

5. Stopover Festival

On the last weekend of July, Saint-Nazaire hosts an incredible festival featuring new and established artists in various genres: pop, rock, soul, world and electro. The festival supports various social causes, providing a platform for young creators, promoting local food and having stalls for charities on site.

Customs trails © Alexandre Lamoureux

6. The path of customs officers

Whether you’re looking for an intense hike or a gentle ride, explore The longest footpath on the seafront in Brittany, over 2,000 km from Mont-Saint-Michel to the Saint-Nazaire bridge. The GR®34 coastal path is 145km long and can be done in five days, but there are plenty of shorter walks for non-hikers!

Atlantic stopover © Farid Makhlouf

7. Discover Escal’Atlantic

Enter the world of legendary liners, discover the history of transatlantic ships through interactive devices and games. View over 200 artifacts from legendary cruise ships, including a chandelier from France (1962) and the silverware of Normandy (1935).

French submarine Espadon © Maelwenn Leduc

8. Visit the Swordfish Submarine

Named after the swordfish, the Swordfish was the first French submarine to navigate the Arctic Circle and dive under the ice fields in the 1960s. Discover underwater life in this steel giant with sound effects on board the only submarine floating from France that civilians can visit. English audio guide available!

Saint-Nazaire shipyard © Farid Makhlouf

9. Visit the Saint-Nazaire shipyard “Chantiers de l’Atlantique”

Every time a ship leaves the shipyard, an amazing open-air spectacle is held in the Loire estuary, delighting locals and visitors alike. Audio guides in English are at your disposal to know everything about the incredible ships built in Saint-Nazaire: France, Queen Mary 2, Harmony of the Seas… Enough to send shivers down your spine!

Enjoy a trip on the water in the Regional Natural Park of Brière © Farid Makhlouf

10. Near Saint-Nazaire, stroll through the Brière Regional Nature Park

Since 1970, Saint-Nazaire has been one of the 21 towns and villages that make up the Briere Regional Nature Park. One of the largest wetlands in France is not lacking in offer: boat trips, hikes, bird watching…

Main photo credit: Saint-Nazaire beach © Farid Makhlouf

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