Set sail on a voyage of discovery
Yachting in the Pays de la Loire is superb, as it should be, considering it’s the home to some of the most famous names in yacht building (Beneteau, Jeanneau). Should you wish to anchor your boat, there are many lovely ports that become lively during the summer season. Or, you may wish to hire a boat, with or without a skipper, and set sail.
Famous for its shipyards, and the place where legendary transatlantic liners (like the Queen Mary 2) and cruise ships are built, the town is also a lively port with 20 beaches for sunbathing. Places to visit include the Centre International Paquebots Escal’Atlantic, a hands-on museum on board a transatlantic liner, and The Espadon – the only fleet submarine in France that is open to visitors. You can also tour the Airbus factory.
The Ports of the Presqu’île Guérandaise
Located just north of La Baule, you’ll get caught up in the hustle and bustle of getting the catch in…and then trying out the catch-of-the-day at the local restaurants. Sheltered by the majestic Pointe du Castelli, Piriac-sur-Mer is an authentic fishing village. La Turballe is one of France’s most important fishing ports, and is the place for sardines and anchovies. Situated on the tip of the peninsula, Le Croisic combines both seaside resort and lively fishing port. Further south, poised between salt marsh and ocean, Batz-sur-Mer is a charming village on the Cote Sauvage, the Wild Coast.
The port is at one end of the long golden crescent beach of the Cote d’Amour (Coast of Love), and the bay becomes a nautical playground at high tide. A Station Kid destination, Pornichet is popular with both parents and kids.
This pretty fishing port is built upon a rock and there’s always something interesting going on. There are beaches and creeks, boating, a castle, golf, quirky narrow lanes with stone steps, and an indoor market. The famous ‘customs officer’s path’ curves along the cliffs offering gorgeous views of the surrounding coastline. Pornic is on the Cote de Jade (Jade Coast), a name inspired by the beautiful green colour of the water.
The Ile d’Yeu
This island is only nine miles long and nine miles wide, so leave your car on the mainland and hire a bike to get around. The northeast coast is sandy with dunes and beaches; the southwest is rugged and rocky. Bring a jacket and comfortable shoes and explore this little paradise, which also has rare plants, ancient standing stones, and a 14th century fort. The ferries leave from Fromentine on the mainland and dock at Port-Joinville on the island.
Actually a peninsula at low tide, it feels like an island as travellers to and from Noirmoutier had to use the famous 17th century causeway, the Passage du Gois, which disappears at high tide. In 1971 a road bridge was built that links it to the mainland. You can choose to explore on horseback, bike, or on foot, taking in the mimosas, windmills, creeks, and small harbours.
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