The port of Croisic still has an important fleet of shellfish boats, in particular shrimp boats, and it has retained all its authenticity. Now that crabs and lobsters are becoming rarer, this little town, which is still known for its shellfish, is tending to rely more and more on income from tourism. It is conveniently situated for some very pleasant beaches, for Batz-sur-Mer, for the salt marshes and for the beautiful countryside of the Cote Sauvage.
The Cote Sauvage - the rugged cliffs, rocky inlets, crevasses and the little bays along the coast offer a great variety of landscapes. After the menhir of Pierre-Longue and the bay of Sables-Menus, there is a 22 acre park, the Parc d Pen-Avel which is planted with evergreen oaks. The beach at Port-Lin, overlooked by 19th C and early 20th C villas, which form the beach and resort area of Le Croisic is well worth seeing, as are the beaches of Saint-Valentin ad Saint-Michel, an oasis of calm beside the town of Batz. The Cote Sauvage continues from the Pointe de Croisic past Batz-sur Mer and Le Pouliguen to the Point de Penchateau. This part of the coast contains many caves, of which the largest and best-known is the cave of Korrigan. A round trip of the Cote Sauvage by car will take about two hours.
GUERANDE PENINSULA - the salt of the earth
The magnificent medieval town of Guerande, whose city walls overlook the sparkling chequerboard of the salt marshes, used to be the economic and administrative capital of the region. On the seaward side of the walls there is the Briere National Park. The city has grown rich from farming, vine-growing and salt, but today much of its income derives from tourism. In addition to its own attractions, it is close to several resorts such as La Turballe and Piriac-sur-Mer. The latter has an excellent water-sports centre.
La Turballe is France's major Atlantic sardine port, and it has a modern fleet. Early risers should visit the port to see the catch being landed. Guided tours are possible and you can visit the fish auction and market. The fish auction has its own small exhibition about the history of fishing. South of the town the fine sandy beach of Plage de la Grande-Falaise extends to over 3 miles between the salt marshes and the ocean. The sea is very popular with windsurfers, and the beach is a favorite with naturists, who congregate around the Pointe de Pen-Bron.
LA BAULE AND ITS COAST - five miles of fine sand
La Baule - Luxury hotels, a casino and magnificent villas are lined up behind a concrete wall that dominates 4 miles of the resort's long, white, sandy beach. The Avenue replica sunglasses du General-de-Gaulle is the town's main shopping centre. Few of the handsome villas are left there, although there are some among the pinces of the Benoit district. The SNCF (French railway) station through which the first holiday-makers discovered La Baule is now classified as an historic monument and is worth a visit.
BRIERE NATIONAL PARK - reeds, canals and birds
The Briere is a huge national park covering 49,000 acres, the largest marshland area in France after the Camargue. The Grande Briere occupies 16,550 acres of it, covering 21 communes. In this area of reeds, peat-bogs, wild geese and ducks, all the traditional occupations by which the local people once earned their livelihoods - peat extraction, animal husbandry, reed-cutting and fishing - have almost disappeared. The region is nevertheless unique, thanks to the habitat and the landscapes which change with the seasons.