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Saint-Nazaire can be found in western France and it has a major harbor right on the Loire River that gives the community access to the Atlantic Ocean.
Because of its proximity to the water, life in Saint-Nazaire pretty much revolves around fishing and shipbuilding, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have an amazing experience with a visit to this community. Once one of the largest Gaul communities in the world and named after Saint Nazarius, whose relics the Roman Catholic church once secreted here, there is a lot of history available to see.
The Vestiges of World War II Still Remain in Saint-Nazaire
When France finally surrendered officially to Germany in June of 1940, the port at Saint-Nazaire was immediately transitioned into being a base of operations for the Nazi naval forces. It was heavily fortified and became a submarine base not long after the occupation began and the 30 foot thick concrete ceiling could withstand almost any bomb that was in the arsenal of the Allies.
Demolishing this massive base wasn’t something that was economically feasible, so it still remains today and is used in a variety of ways. There are a few excellent cafes to enjoy within the confines of the bunker, there’s a bar if you need a quick drink or refresher, and the roof is often used as exhibition space for the city.
If you want to enjoy a beautiful day while you’re in Saint-Nazaire, then a beach club is one of the best ways to do so. Club Albatros is one of the best options in the city and it is a family friendly environment. Go swimming in the sea or have fun on their inflatables and trampolines. Group games are available and kid-friendly events are planned routinely. You can go out sailing if you want as well and they’ll even teach you how to sail if you wish.
Want To Tour a French Submarine?
The Espadon, or “Swordfish,” is also docked at the old fortified lock of the harbor. The submarine, which is nearly 80 meters long, was initially built in Le Havre and was launched in 1958, becoming service ready 2 years later. It served in the French Navy for 25 years and the lack of space you’ll see on this boat is incredible. English audio guides are available for those who want them and the view of the U-boat pens is quite impressive.
There is also a good track in Saint-Nazaire and that’s not a bad thing since horse racing is one of the most popular sports in France. You could just go out and make a bet, but the Courses Hippiques also has a good restaurant on site that is worth enjoying. Chariot races are included with the day’s events and there are some family friendly activities as well. Be aware, however, that there is an entrance fee.
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In the following section you can find more local information about the city.
Saint-Nazaire Tourist Information
Office du Tourisme Saint-Nazaire
3 Boulevard de la Légion d’Honneur
T: +33 2 40 22 40 65
www: website link
Tourisme Pays de la Loire
Conseil Régional des Pays de la Loire
Hôtel de la région
1 rue de la Loire
44966 Nantes Cedex 9
T: +33 02 28 20 50 00
www: website link
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