Saint-Nazaire, located on the western coast of France, is a vibrant city known for its rich maritime history, beautiful beaches, and impressive architectural landmarks. Here are some of the best places to visit and things to do in Saint-Nazaire:
Begin your journey in Saint-Nazaire by exploring Escal’Atlantic, an extraordinary museum housed in the former submarine base. This immersive experience takes you back in time to the golden era of transatlantic liners, allowing you to discover the luxurious interiors and learn about the city’s shipbuilding heritage.
2. U-Boat Pens
Another significant historical site in Saint-Nazaire is the U-Boat Pens. These imposing concrete structures served as German submarine bases during World War II. Explore the pens and learn about their role in the war effort. The accompanying museum provides detailed insights into the city’s wartime past.
3. Saint-Nazaire Submarine Base
Delve deeper into Saint-Nazaire’s naval history by visiting the Submarine Base. This vast underground complex was used by the German Navy during World War II. Guided tours offer a fascinating glimpse into the secret operations that took place here.
4. The Beaches
Saint-Nazaire boasts several beautiful beaches, perfect for relaxation and sunbathing. Plage de Villès-Martin is a popular choice, offering golden sands and stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean. Plage de Saint-Nazaire and Plage de Monsieur Hulot are also great options for beach lovers.
5. The Jules Verne Museum
Located in a charming villa, the Jules Verne Museum pays homage to the famous French writer and visionary. Explore the exhibitions that showcase Verne’s life, works, and his captivating imagination that inspired many scientific and technological advancements.
6. The Espadon Submarine
Step aboard the Espadon, a decommissioned submarine that now serves as a museum. Discover what life was like for the crew members who lived and worked in this underwater vessel. Guided tours provide a fascinating glimpse into the challenges faced by submariners.
7. The Tiers Paysage
Nature lovers will enjoy a visit to the Tiers Paysage, a beautiful parkland that offers walking trails, lush greenery, and picturesque picnic spots. It’s a perfect place to unwind and enjoy the tranquility of nature.
8. Shopping and Dining
Explore the city center and discover a range of shops, boutiques, and local markets where you can indulge in some retail therapy. Afterward, savor the flavors of local cuisine at one of Saint-Nazaire’s many restaurants, which offer a delightful array of seafood dishes and traditional French fare.
For a deeper understanding of the local culture and history, a visit to the Ecomuseum is highly recommended. Located in the former Saint-Nazaire submarine base, this museum showcases the region’s heritage through exhibits, artifacts, and interactive displays. Learn about the city’s evolution, its industrial prowess, and the lives of its residents throughout the years.
10. Saint-Nazaire Bridge
Known as the Pont de Saint-Nazaire, this magnificent bridge connects the city with the nearby town of Saint-Brevin-les-Pins. Take a walk or drive across the bridge to enjoy panoramic views of the coastline, the estuary, and the vast expanse of the Atlantic Ocean. It’s a perfect spot for photography enthusiasts.
11. The Tidal Power Plant
Image Source: https://www.thegreenage.co.uk/cos/rance-tidal-power/
Saint-Nazaire is home to the first-ever large-scale tidal power plant in France, known as the Parc du Brivet. Join a guided tour to learn about this innovative and sustainable energy source. Explore the plant’s visitor center, which provides valuable insights into harnessing tidal energy and its environmental benefits.
12. Ocearium du Croisic
Located just a short distance from Saint-Nazaire, the Ocearium du Croisic is a fantastic aquarium that showcases a diverse range of marine life. Explore various exhibits, including tropical fish, sharks, seals, and penguins. Don’t miss the opportunity to witness captivating shows and feedings.
13. Le Ruban Bleu
This contemporary cultural venue is a hub for art exhibitions, concerts, theater performances, and other cultural events. Check their schedule to see if there are any shows or exhibitions taking place during your visit. It’s a great way to immerse yourself in the local arts scene.
14. Coastal Walks and Cycling
Saint-Nazaire offers picturesque coastal trails and cycling paths that allow visitors to explore the stunning natural beauty of the area. Enjoy a leisurely walk or bike ride along the Promenade de l’Océan, which stretches along the coastline, offering breathtaking views and refreshing sea air.
15. Beach Sports and Water Activities
With its beautiful beaches and favorable coastal conditions, Saint-Nazaire is an ideal destination for beach sports and water activities. Engage in beach volleyball, kiteboarding, windsurfing, or simply take a dip in the refreshing waters. Several water sports centers offer equipment rental and lessons for beginners.
16. Local Cuisine and Wine Tasting
Indulge in the culinary delights of Saint-Nazaire by sampling the local cuisine. Seafood lovers will be delighted by the fresh catch of the day, including oysters, mussels, and lobster. Pair your meal with a glass of regional Muscadet wine, known for its crisp and refreshing flavors.
17. Gardens and Parks
Saint-Nazaire is home to several beautifully landscaped gardens and parks where you can relax and enjoy nature. The Jardin des Plantes, with its colorful flowers and tranquil atmosphere, is a perfect spot for a leisurely stroll. The Parc Paysager, situated near the beach, offers lush green spaces, picnic areas, and a children’s playground.
18. Le Grand Café
Image Source: https://www.grandcafe-saintnazaire.fr/newsletter/
Art enthusiasts should visit Le Grand Café, a contemporary art center that hosts exhibitions by local and international artists. Explore the thought-provoking artworks and installations that push boundaries and provoke dialogue. The center also organizes workshops and events, making it a hub for artistic and cultural exchange.
19. La Baule
Just a short distance from Saint-Nazaire lies La Baule, a charming coastal town renowned for its beautiful beaches and upscale resorts. Spend a day exploring the town’s elegant promenade, indulging in water sports, or simply relaxing on the sandy shores. La Baule is also known for its vibrant nightlife and excellent dining options.
20. Chantiers de l’Atlantique
If you have a keen interest in shipbuilding and want to delve deeper into the industry, a visit to Chantiers de l’Atlantique is a must. This shipyard has a long-standing reputation for constructing prestigious cruise ships. Take a guided tour to witness the impressive craftsmanship and innovative engineering behind these floating marvels.
Image Source: https://www.seevisit.fr/nantes
While not located within Saint-Nazaire, the nearby city of Nantes is easily accessible and offers a wealth of attractions. Explore the historic center with its charming medieval architecture, visit the famous Château des Ducs de Bretagne, and take a leisurely stroll along the scenic banks of the Loire River. Nantes is also known for its vibrant arts and culture scene, with numerous museums, galleries, and street art installations to explore.
22. Océanis Aquatic Center
For a day of family fun, head to the Océanis Aquatic Center in Saint-Nazaire. This indoor water park features pools, water slides, and various water attractions suitable for all ages. Whether you want to relax in the jacuzzi, zip down thrilling slides, or enjoy a swim, Océanis offers a refreshing and enjoyable experience.
23. Les Halles de Saint-Nazaire
For a taste of local flavors, visit Les Halles de Saint-Nazaire, a vibrant covered market where you can find a wide array of fresh produce, regional specialties, and artisanal products. Explore the stalls, chat with the vendors, and pick up some ingredients for a picnic or a delicious meal.
24. Saint-Nazaire Lighthouse
Image Source: https://www.ibiblio.org/lighthouse/bsc.htm
Visit the Saint-Nazaire Lighthouse, located at the entrance to the harbor. Climb to the top for panoramic views of the city, the coastline, and the surrounding waters. The lighthouse also houses a small museum where you can learn about its history and the importance of maritime navigation.
25. Parc des Chantiers
Image Source: https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parc_des_Chantiers
Escape the hustle and bustle of the city by visiting Parc des Chantiers, a serene park located near the shipyard. With its green spaces, walking paths, and playgrounds, it’s an ideal place to relax, have a picnic, or enjoy outdoor activities with friends and family.
26. Visit the nearby Brière Regional Nature Park
For nature enthusiasts, a trip to the Brière Regional Nature Park is highly recommended. Located just a short drive from Saint-Nazaire, this vast wetland area is a haven for wildlife and offers beautiful landscapes of marshes, canals, and thatched-roof cottages. Explore the park on foot, by boat, or by horse-drawn carriage to fully appreciate its natural beauty.
27. Les Salines Guérandaises
Embark on a short excursion to Les Salines Guérandaises, located near the town of Guérande. Explore the salt marshes, learn about the traditional salt-harvesting methods, and discover the fascinating process of salt production. The site offers guided tours and the opportunity to purchase high-quality sea salt as a souvenir.
28. Plage de Villès-Martin
Situated in the western part of the city, Plage de Villès-Martin is one of the most popular beaches in Saint-Nazaire. This long sandy beach is backed by dunes and offers ample space for sunbathing, picnicking, and beach games. Lifeguards are present during the summer months, ensuring a safe environment for swimmers.
29. Plage de M. Hulot
Named after the famous character from the French film “Les Vacances de M. Hulot,” this beach is located in the eastern part of the city. Its wide expanse of golden sand and calm waters make it ideal for families with children. The beach is well-equipped with facilities, including showers, toilets, and beach volleyball courts.
30. Plage du Grand Traict
Situated on the western outskirts of Saint-Nazaire, Plage du Grand Traict is a hidden gem that offers a more secluded beach experience. The expansive sandy beach stretches along the coast and provides a serene setting for relaxation. At low tide, you can explore the exposed sandbanks and tidal pools, making it a favorite spot for nature lovers.
Places and Things To Do