Saint-Nazaire Port … Magical!

Standing squarely on the estuary, Saint-Nazaire can take in the Loire and the Atlantic Ocean with a single glance.

The town dropped anchor here in the 19th century. Since then, docks and jetties have grown up, bristling with cranes, dotted with lighthouses and hangars. In this magnificent setting of metal, concrete and wood, Chantiers de l'Atlantique has built famous ocean liners such as the Normandie, the France and more recently, the Monarch of the Seas. It is also here that sections and components for the Airbus aircraft are assembled in the Aérospatiale workshops. Once fragrant with the scent of spices, coffee, cocoa and tobacco, the docks still handle goods from all over the world.

The port : a space to be reclaimed

An industrial and commercial port, Saint-Nazaire became a military port from 1940 to 1945. The German navy built a submarine base here to house its fleet of U-boats. This gigantic concrete and steel bunker, responsible for the destruction of Saint-Nazaire, cut the town off from its docks. Having been neglected during post-war reconstruction, the whole port area began to recover in the mid-1980s: refurbishments at the Petit-Maroc, the creation of the Ecomusée, the arrival of the submarine Espadon, the organisation of major musical and maritime events, the daily lighting-up of the port with the The Docks by Night… gradually rebuilt the links between the residents of Saint-Nazaire and their port.

The time has now come to set the seal on this reconciliation. This is the aim of the Ville-Port project. An urban project providing even greater reaffirmation of Saint-Nazaire's port and maritime identity, enabling the reclamation of 15 hectares of land ideally situated a few hundred metres from the town centre and the beach, integrating the submarine base, creating an attractive setting for new activities, new residents and a new cultural and tourist destination: Escal'Atlantic, an exhibition-experience about the great ocean liners.