"Interesting harbour" Saint-Nazaire by chess_machine

Saint-Nazaire Travel Guide: 6 reviews and 9 photos

Well, last time I wrote a page about Saint Nazaire, the title was "see the shipping building then go away"... which was quite harsh. Now, since I have been back again for doing photography, I have changed my point of view.

It sure not has become Roma or Stockholm in 2 years! It still is, how can I say that, difficult to appreciate easthetically ;)

For history, the city is quite recent, really started growing in the 19th century, and became one of the major harbour in France and shipping building place, until WWII. During this war, the city got nearly completely destroyed, for it was really a strategic place. It never became again as dynamic as before. Still, ship building is still alive in Saint Nazaire, and some major ships, such as Queen Mary II have been built in Saint Nazaire.

I have been there really twice, if I dont take into account some super flash travels Ive made there, stopping on my way to La Baule bay. The first time, it was at night, and really desertic. Seemed like nobody was going to party on a saturday night, just saw one bar, and the city did not conqueer my heart by its beauty... Euphemism, considering the purely geometric and charmless city center.

Second time was a year ago. Went there to make a photo reportage and actually had the aim of showing the "beauty" of the city, or at least, trying to find interesting parts of Saint Nazaire. So I wandered during one whole day in the 70 000 people city. One year later, the image I got from it is that the city center is really not beautiful, it does not have any charme. I have been to le Havre, which too has been completely distroyed during WWII and reconstructed quickly afterwards but there it is different. It is not beautiful but it has originality and personnality. In Saint Nazaire, you feel it has been reconstructed quickly and without many interest in making beautiful buildings. It is mainly white buildings without personnality. There are not even beautiful shops, but common shops you find everywhere else. On this point, I was disappointed. However, I really liked the district of the harbour. The places where boats where staying before have not completely been distroyed and are quite fascinating. I really liked this district and to me, if you like off the beaten path places, it is a good place to go. You can also visit a submarine and there is a museum which makes you visit the inside of big boats from beginning of the XXth.

When going there, I met a man of 50 or 60 years old who told me about the time when Saint Nazaire was still a major place for ship building (it still does it but I have no idea how important it is now). His stories were like hearing from another world. The docker life.

Two good places for art: the VIP, for concerts and exhibitions; le Grand Café for contemporary art.

There is a real wish of politics to create a dynamic link between Saint Nazaire and Nantes and it surely will be interesting to see that.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:the harbour
  • Last visit to Saint-Nazaire: Feb 2008
  • Intro Updated Feb 12, 2009
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Reviews (5)

Comments (2)

  • Jul 12, 2010 at 11:12 PM

    I would love to have a peek into the ship construction at the port in Saint-Nazaire... and the beaches near-by look appealing too!! Cheers, Marina

  • barryg23's Profile Photo
    Jan 2, 2006 at 1:45 AM

    This was the first town I visited in France, on a holiday when I was 7 years old. Don't remember any of it at all though

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