Visit the Atlantic Harbours
Bénodet, the pearl of southern Brittany
Situated at the mouth of the Odet River opposite the Glénans Islands, this charming little seaside resort not only has an old port and pretty beaches but also stylish villas and shimmering landscapes that run out to Saint-Gilles point.
In the Cornouaille region of Brittany,
lays a city with a maritime history that comes alive with its port-museum: the display of 250 boats, all from different periods, is accompanied by a
collection of 5,000 other maritime items. This historical retrospective is
justified by the fact that the fishing port of Rosmeur was inhabited in pre-historic times, to be then developed in antiquity. Other neighbourhoods evoke the great days of sardine packing plants, or else, they feature little fishermen’s homes and seaside villas (near Tréboul).
Pornic, a port in the Retz region
Already active in antiquity on the south side of the Loire estuary, Pornic was also the home port for many Newfoundland trawlers, as well as a pirates’ den and a commercial port. Set in Bourgneuf bay (also dubbed the ‘Jade Coast’), Pornic’s old town is situated on a cliff and boasts a market hall built in 1609. The beautiful little port is still active to this day.
Located along a rather sandy coast (Sables
= ‘sands’), Sables d’Olonne is known for its beaches, the first of its three main facets. Indeed, this city in the Vendée also has an active and working port in which industrial and leisure vessels each occupy their own docks. It’s down at the fishing port (mainly tuna and sardines), which dates back to the 15th
century, where you can take a guided tour to discover its history and workings of today. Finally, the third facet of Sables d’Olonne is its sport, notably as it serves as the headquarters of the Vendée
Globe Challenge, the famous solo round-the-world yacht race.
Gujan-Mestras, Arcachon bay
Along this strip of Aquitaine coastline, Gujan-Mestras is known for its wild sand dunes. Arcachon’s lagoon seems like a ‘world of its own,’ and Gujan-Mestras, where the oyster is king, is certainly alive by the constant coming and going of oyster boats.
Socoa, a discreet little Basque harbour
Compared to the famous port of Saint-Jean-de-Luz, Socoa makes a virtue of its modesty. Its quiet but highly
picturesque atmosphere and setting (including a 17th-century fort) are
certainly worthy of interest.
In the same spirit, other coastal areas around France offer experiences worthwhile, including the Channel and the Mediterranean ports.