© Vincent Bauza

Lighthouses and fishing huts

The seaside promenade follows the bay’s curve and offers amazing views of the estuary and the Saint-Nazaire Bridge. Along your way, discover the typical fishing huts with lift nets and the colourful lighthouses that dot the shoreline.

 

Fishing

Between Sea and Sky

Facing the sea

For many people, the particular charm of this part of the promenade comes from the fishing huts to be discovered here. Most of them are scrupulously maintained, and come to life when their owners, weather and tide permitting, come to fish. It’s a very simple method: the big square fishing nets hung to the huts, called “carrelets”, are lowered into the water and after some time raised again, with –or without– a good catch. The Loire-Atlantique area comprises approximately 200 fishing huts; their owners pay an annual fee for the right to occupy public space on the shore.

 

It is no coincidence that you feel as though you were walking on a dyke. The promenade of Sautron, as this neighbourhood is called, was created in the early 20th century, when the new harbour entrance, the Southern lock, was built. Tons of debris were brought here to create this seawall, even if it meant the end of the beach of Sautron, which was quite popular at that time. All that is left of this beach now is a thin strip of sand, where you can walk when the tide is low and where the fishing huts have been built on stilts.

Still walking at a leisurely pace, you arrive at the Villès-Martin head with its exquisite sculpture by British artist Peter Logan. On the other side of the head, another beach awaits you. Did you bring your hat, towel and sunglasses? There’s nothing to hesitate about, then!

 

The Lighthouse Way

The crab claws

Do you know how people in Saint-Nazaire nickname the piers? They call them “crab claws”… have a look at the aerial photo, and you’ll understand why!
If you get a good look at the two piers you will realise that both of them bear a small lighthouse at its end. At nightfall, they give the usual guiding signals for ships entering a harbour: a green light on the starboard side, a red light on the port side.

The Vieux Môle

You can easily park in the car park at avenue de Saint-Hubert (see city map), directly on the banks of the Loire, near the Écomusée. If you take the bus, get off at the “Ruban Bleu” stop, from there you’ll have to walk about 10 minutes to get to the starting point of our walk.

First stop: the lighthouse “Vieux Môle”, “Old Jetty”. With its long pier and walls of massive granite blocks, the jetty has been a landmark for so long (more than 180 years) that it’s hard to imagine that its inauguration in 1838 was quite a revolution.

Until then Saint-Nazaire only had a small dry harbour; if ships wanted to dock, they had to wait for high tide, which was a big handicap at a time when maritime and river traffic became ever heavier. Even the author Honoré de Balzac mentioned this problem in his novel Béatrix (1829), set in the surroundings of Saint-Nazaire: he describes the “slippery rocks and granite cliffs” which made any disembarking a nightmarish experience. The jetty being built, passengers, for example of the Loire steamers, could at long last disembark without major difficulties.

Make the jetty your own!

No wonder the “Vieux Môle” jetty is a top spot for selfies, Instagram and photos.

Catch it at sunrise or framed between waves and share your snaps using #SaintNazaireRenversante!