©Melanie Chaigneau
Meander along the Loire estuary to the rhythm of the water and artOpt for a “boat” holiday
Trip idea

Meander along the Loire estuary to the rhythm of the water and art

From Saint-Nazaire to Pornic, from La Turballe to Saint-Brévin-les-Pins, travel along the Loire estuary. From one bank to the next, it reveals a variety of landscapes, matched by the works of art along the way!

Suggestion for break in
3 days

At a glance

All aboard for the Loire estuary! Where the river and the ocean meet, you can’t avoid boats. They could be the huge liners built in Saint-Nazaire. Trawlers coming back laden with fish to La Turballe port. Traditional sailing boats along the Jade Coast. Or scows that plunge you to the heart of the Brière marshes. The structures along the Estuary are the other surprises of this break. They are all daring!

Stopover at Saint-Nazaire, the port for every journey

Welcome to Saint-Nazaire, a town with multiple facets!

First, take time to stroll along the seafront, looking for remnants of the Belle-Epoque. Wander through the charming Havane district. The fancy and colourful villas will transport you elsewhere!

Plunge into a more industrial atmosphere by the port and the shipyards. Many cruise liners have sailed from here in 150 years. Enjoy a guided tour to get close to these sea giants and discover how they are made. Watch the huge gantry raise sections of ships that are as large as buildings… Impressive!

Do you want to know more about the transatlantic legends born here? Thanks to the immersive circuit proposed by Escal’Atlantic, step onto the deck of Le Normandie or France. A journey through time!

  • Accessible from the city centre, the Sentier des Douaniers promises a lovely walk along the Saint Nazaire coast. Walk through reeds, holm oaks and stone pines, from coves to cliffs, all the way to the fisheries.
  • In July-August, opt for a cruise with comments on the Loire estuary. One of the highlights is going underneath the famous Saint-Nazaire bridge.

Set sail for Pornic and the Jade Coast

In the morning, stroll around the coastal park in Saint-Brévin-les-Pins. The coastal route that overlooks this garden offers an exceptional view of Mindin fort and the colours of the Loire estuary. Can you see that creature rising up out of the water? Don’t panic, it’s the Giant Serpent by Huang Yong Ping!

Then continue to Pornic. Fishing boats and traditional sailing boats intermingle in the adorable old port. Go along the docks to the bottom of the castle. The path will take you to Noeveillard marina.  As you continue on the corniche, you’ll notice the traditional fishing huts. It’s a scene straight from a postcard!

In the afternoon, discover the sceneries of the Jade Coast from the sea. On-board Evasion III, head to Préfailles and Pointe Saint-Gildas. On-board “Corsaires de Retz”, navigate with the islands of Noirmoutier and Pilier as a backdrop. The choice is yours!

  • Take a food stop at La Fraiseraie. The ice creams, sorbets and jams made with sustainably-grown red fruits are a local institution!
  • At “Salines de Millac”, you can discover the ins and outs of the regional salt industry. Learn about the trade of the salt workers and the beauty of the Breton marshes in Pays de Retz. Don’t leave without your pot of salt!

From La Turballe port to the Brière marshes

You’ll have to get up early to see the fishing boats returning to La Turballe port. From the first rays of daylight, you can watch the ballet of the trawlers and the sale of fish on the market.

A former thatcher’s village, La Turballe developed around sardine fishing and canning factories. You can immerse yourself in this history by visiting the sardine boat, Au Gré du Vent.

In the afternoon, other sailors will be waiting for you. Those of the Brière marshes. Hop on-board their scow, a typical flat-bottomed boat and the only way to explore this corner of nature. The end of the day is the ideal time for observing the birds that nest here.

Are you going back via Nantes? Then go via Sud-Loire and, with your car, board the Loire ferry in Couëron. A slight detour through Le Pellerin will take you to the Misconceivable work of art by Erwin Wurm. It’s the ultimate surprise of this trip on the Estuary…

  • Climb on-board the Galipétant. Bruno, the captain, proposes one-hour outings in the strait, as well as shuttles between the Pen Bron peninsular and Le Croisic port.
  • Have you still got time? Then head to Lavau-sur-Loire. You’ll travel through the former river bed to the Tadashi Kawamata Observatory. A 360° view awaits!

We like

  • Feeling a certain privilege in entering exceptional industrial sites on guided tours of the shipyards, but also the Airbus factory in Saint-Nazaire.
  • Exploring the Brière marshes on a scow and being immersed in this exceptional nature without fear of disturbing the peace and quiet.

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