Take in the air at Guérande’s salt marshes this autumn – and Noirmoutier’s golden mimosa too, if you stick around long enough. Pack up your car and hop across the Channel with Brittany Ferries.
Head to medieval Guérande in Loire-Atlantique to fill your nose with the distinctive smell of sea salt, carried on the wind from the seven square miles of surrounding marshes. Around 10,000 tonnes of coarse salt is produced each year but only 300 tonnes of the delicate fleur de sel, highly prized by chefs. To find out about this fascinating industry head to Terre de Sel in Pradel; here you can learn about salt harvesting and visit a salt pond with a paludier (salt harvester) before buying some goodies to take home from the on-site shop. If your legs are weary, take a marsh tour in a horse-drawn carriage. Guérande itself is a beautiful medieval town, near Nantes and surrounded by wonderful landscapes created by the salt marshes. At 1,343 metres long, its fortified town wall is one of the best preserved in France.
Plants and gardens
Pays de la Loire is truly a region in bloom, with a plethora of sweet-smelling plants and gardens. The island of Noirmoutier is famed for its fragrant golden mimosa, which blooms during the winter months. Another autumn or winter must-visit is the 70-acre Parc Oriental de Maulévrier, Europe’s largest Japanese garden. The garden has an extraordinary botanical and architectural setting and pays tribute to the Japanese art of beautifully shaped trees. Sleek and ordered, it contains around 300 species including maples, which put on a spectacular display of autumn colour.
Get there with Brittany Ferries
The best way of exploring the Atlantic Coast is in the comfort of your own car, packed with everything you need. Sail direct to Brittany or Normandy from Poole, Portsmouth or Plymouth with Brittany Ferries and head on down to the Atlantic Coast.
Plan your trip to the Atlantic Coast with Brittany Ferries.