Saint-Nazaire, a city by the sea
Ideally situated both on the banks of the Loire estuary and the Atlantic Ocean, Saint-Nazaire is quite literally a city by the sea. Its waterfront, 20 beaches, and Nantes Saint-Nazaire Port, the most important harbour on the French Atlantic coast, give it that special seaside feeling.
Highlights in Saint-Nazaire
- Escal’Atlantic, the “Ocean Liner Experience“: inside the former submarine base, visitors will enjoy a spectacular voyage into the world of transatlantic liners. The atmosphere and evocative setting of this unique venue have been enhanced with new dimension. Interactive features, audiovisual displays and “hands-on” devices, as well as nearly 200 original artefacts from liners built in Saint-Nazaire make for a dynamic and unforgettable visitor’s experience. Escal’Atlantic has been awarded the national quality label “Qualité Tourisme”.
- The Espadon submarine: Built in the 1950’s, visitors discover the first French submarine to have dived beneath the Arctic ice field, and experience the living conditions of the 65 crew members who had to do with one single (salt water) shower, and sleeping in turns, as there were not enough bunks.
- The heritage museum Ecomusée: The permanent exhibition recounts the history of Saint-Nazaire, from prehistoric days to the 21st century. Scale models of ships and the harbour site, tell the story of how the harbour was created in the middle of the 19th century, and how it developed over time (quality label “Musée de France”).
- Industrial tourism and fascinating guided tours: be a privileged spectator and watch cruise ships being built in the shipyard STX France, see the huge A380 being assembled in the Airbus factory, and discover the impressive harbour terminals of Nantes Saint-Nazaire Port, linked to 400 ports throughout the world.
- The “Ville-Port“ quarter, which links the city and its harbour, offers spectacular views from the roof of the submarine base over the harbour basin, the estuary, the shipyard, and surprisingly, contemporary art! Works by artists Gilles Clément and Felice Varini use the submarine base and the whole harbour site as a giant “canvas“.
- The neolithic barrow “Tumulus of Dissignac“ (~ 6,000 years old), is one of the most remarkable prehistoric monuments of the region.
- Tintin in Saint-Nazaire: walk in the footsteps of famous comic strip heroes Tintin and Snowy. The story “The seven crystal balls“ brings them to Saint-Nazaire, and you can follow their trail via enlarged pictures taken from the story, which have been put up around the harbour.
- 20 beaches dot the coast in Saint-Nazaire, and two of them offer bathing facilities for the disabled. Looking for the most popular beach? The winner is… “Monsieur Hulot’s“ beach, in the Saint-Marc-sur-Mer part of town. It’s the very beach where Jacques Tati shot his famous film, “Monsieur Hulot’s Holidays“ in the early 1950’s.
- The two-hour cruise “Saint-Nazaire by the sea“ is a pleasant way of discovering Saint-Nazaire by boat. The ship sails along the shipyard, underneath the Saint-Nazaire bridge, and then along the beaches.
- The waterfront near the city centre makes for lovely walks. There are still some stately houses from the late 19th century to be seen, as well as the typical fishing cabins on stilts.
- The coastal footpath, the former "Customs officers’ path", runs along the coast for several kilometres, along beaches, cliffs and coves. Enjoy the views over the sea, no matter whether the sky is blue or grey…
- “La Folle Journée“ (January): two days filled to the brim with classical music concerts.
- “Les Escales“ (early August): this festival of world music, which defines itself as a musical dialogue between cultures and continents, takes possession of the harbour site for two nights of music and fun.
- “Consonances“ (September): the chamber music festival of Saint-Nazaire, brings a whole week of outstanding music and internationally renowned musicians to the city.
- Street shows from (April to September) in the city centre and Saint-Marc-sur-mer.
- Free concerts in bars and pubs (July and August).
- Huge picnic on the beach in early June
- Sailing regattas: the “Record SNSM“ in June is part of the agenda every year; as well as a promising new regatta between Saint-Nazaire and the Mexican province of Yucatan, the “Solidaire du Chocolat“, which has taken place twice already.
Savours and flavours
Even if there is no particular culinary speciality which is linked to the name of Saint-Nazaire, the sea being so close provides loads of deliciously fresh seafood. Take a stroll in the central market on Tuesday, Friday or Sunday morning, and you’ll find the most mouthwatering treats!
Prepare your stay
The Tourist Information Office, inside the former submarine base (follow the “Ville-Port“ signs when you arrive in Saint-Nazaire), has all the information and insider tips you need about hotels, restaurants, what to do and see.
Very practical before coming to Saint-Nazaire: check a free service on the website which gives you access to hotel room availability, and allows for direct booking.
- By car
Paris 437 km – Angers: 144 km (Motorway A11)
Nantes: 64 km – La Baule: 15 km
Rennes: 125 km - Vannes: 87 km
Les Sables d'Olonne: 168 km
- By train
Saint-Nazaire has a TGV (high-speed train) station, and is reached in less than three hours from Paris.
- By plane
Nantes Atlantique International Airport is less than an hour’s drive from Saint-Nazaire.
Three times a week, a car ferry runs between Saint-Nazaire and Gijon, on the Northern coast of Spain.
Saint-Nazaire Tourisme & Patrimoine / Visit Saint-Nazaire
Office de Tourisme
Base sous-marine, Boulevard de la Légion d’Honneur, Ville-Port
Phone: 00 33 240 224 065