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France, Loire-Atlantique (44), Pornic, Port de pêche et la Château de Barbe Bleue ©Ph. Blanchot/hemis.fr

44. Parc Naturel Régional de Brière, St André des Eaux, lieu-dit La Chaussée Neuve, bottes de roseaux sur berge (destinés à la réalisation de toits de chaume), barques amarrées, eau gelée, ciel bleu ©Alain Le Bot/Photononstop


France, Loire-Atlantique (44), Guérande, marais-salants ©J.-M. Barrère/hemis.fr

France, Loire-Atlantique (44), Guérande, marais-salants

France, Vendée (85), La Barre-de-Monts, Le Daviaud, Ecomusée du Marais Breton (vue aérienne) ©F. Leroy/hemis.fr

France, Vendée (85), Beauvoir-sur-Mer, Le passage du Gois, route submersible (vue aérienne) ©F. Leroy/hemis.fr

France, Loire-Atlantique (44), Le Pouliguen, le village, le port et la baie de La Baule (vue aérienne) ©F. Leroy/hemis.fr

Small boats at low tide and the big bridge of Saint Nazaire at Saint Brevin les Pins in Pays de la Loire region in western France ©Musat/iStock

Small boats at Saint Brevin les Pins in France

White cabinets at the beach early in the morning ©Buellom/iStock

Cabinets at the beach

France, Loire Atlantique, Nantes, ship owners houses in Quai Turenne on the former Ile Feydeau ©R. Mattes/mauritius images/age fotostock

MBA-04024602 - © - Rene Mattes

In the footsteps of the gabelous: Nantes La Baule Pornic Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie

From the Loire to the Atlantic, a tour between land and sea

  • By the sea
  • Roadtrip

Along an Atlantic coast of rocky bays and fine sandy beaches, in a landscape of estuaries and peninsulas, land and water is inextricably linked. In the heart of a marsh between Brittany and Vendee, where gabelous (‘salt tax inspectors’) pursued smugglers, the paludiers (‘salt workers’) still harvest the salt. The sun that  shines on the salt crystals illuminates a coast of Jade that fuel the daydreams of holidaymakers. Following a long loop between land and sea, criss-crossing fishing villages, the history of which shapes the charm of today’s seaside resorts. Allow yourself to be amazed by a landscape of a thousand glints.

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Nantes Nantes

Day 1 - Nantes - La Baule

The north side of the Loire estuary leads you to the marshes of the Grande Brière. After a stop at Herbignac and the typical hamlet of Kerhinet, explore the medieval city of Guérande in the heart of the salt marshes. Take the route des salines to Batz-sur-Mer for a detour through the Croisic peninsula. Follow the rugged Côte Sauvage to reach the large bay at Pouliguen, which offers countless sporting activities or a charming route amidst the romantic tree lined villas of La Baule.

  • Distance : 100 km
  • Duration : 2h4

Day 2 - La Baule - Pornic

The home of shipyards for 150 years, Saint-Nazaire now offers an attractive tour of its Town-Port, between the former submarine base that houses the Escal’Atlantic and its calming seafront promenade. Its remarkable three-kilometre bridge spans the Loire towards the charming seaside resort of Saint-Brevin. The Jade Coast and sandy coves lead you further south to Pornic, a picturesque little port as pleasant as its old town.

  • Distance : 56 km
  • Duration : 1h32

Day 3 - Pornic - Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie

From La Bernerie, Les Moutiers-en-Retz followed by the pretty  port of Epoids, follow the coast up to Beauvoir-sur-Mer. The Gois road, submerged during high-tide, offers an unusual route to Ile de Noirmoutier, famous for its potatoes grown near the salt marshes, sheltered by the maritime pines of Bois de la Chaise. From the bridge, join La Barre-des-Monts and discover the Marais breton-vendéen through the Daviaudv Ecomuseum. Enjoy sardines at the port of Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie after lying on one of its beaches.

  • Distance : 104 km
  • Duration : 2h7

Day 4 - Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie - Nantes

Head back to Nantes across Retz country, taking the route de marais between Challans and Machecoul. A historic former capital, this village is home to the ruins of the Château de Gilles de Rais, a controversial lord who inspired the character of Bluebeard. In Port-St-Père, a must for families, the huge Planète Sauvage wildlife park offers five routes across a 10km trail. Pick up the water threading to Ile de Nantes with a stroll along the old quays leading to the chateau.

  • Distance : 76 km
  • Duration : 1h35

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