What to do and see in Loire-Atlantique, highlights and tips

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In western France, bordering Brittany, lies the beautiful Loire-Atlantique. The Loire-Atlantique department is part of the Pays de la Loire region and, as its name suggests, covers a large area along the Atlantic coast. You will find charming villages and towns, endless beaches, picturesque ports and good restaurants in Loire-Atlantique. You can enjoy fun activities both on the water and along the coast in this French region. Heerlijk, want er is bijna altijd een windje vanaf zee voelbaar! In dit artikel lees je waar de mooie plaatsen in Loire-Atlantique zijn, welke bezienswaardigheden je niet zou mogen missen én laat ik je zien wat leuke activiteiten zijn langs de kust.

By train to Loire-Atlantique

You can, of course, take the car to Loire-Atlantique; the distance Utrecht-Nantes is 875 km. Another option is a flight to Nantes and explore the region with a rental car. This time I travel comfortably and sustainably by train to Nantes. The trip takes about 6.5 hours, including changing trains in Paris. The transfer is somewhat hectic, as I have to get from Gare Du Nord (arrival Thalys* from Amsterdam) to Paris-Montparnasse (departure TGV inOUI to Nantes) by metro. Fortunately, everything is going fine and once back on the road, it is very relaxing, this traveling by train! *At the end of 2023, Thalys will become Eurostar

Loire-Atlantique has beautiful beaches


The first city I visit in Loire-Atlantique is Saint-Nazaire, on the north side of the Loire River. Saint-Nazaire is best known for its shipyards, where, among other things, transatlantic liners (package ships) were built. Even today, large cruise ships are still built in Saint-Nazaire, such as the MS France, Queen Mary II and Harmony of the Seas, among others.

Saint-Nazaire has as many as 20 beaches. Small, quiet beaches in bays but also long sandy beaches along the boulevard. You can enjoy cycling along the promenade. Take a look at the fishermen’s cottages, so recognizable for this part of Loire-Atlantique. Don’t forget to take a look in the La Havana district where there are large, colorful houses dating from the time of the ocean liners. Be sure to stop in the Jardin des Plantes before having a drink on one of the cozy terraces. You can dine pleasantly and very nicely in the beautifully situated restaurant La Plage overlooking the pier and two lighthouses.

In Saint-Nazaire you will find quite a few museums. You can learn all about the history of Saint-Nazaire in Écomusée. In Escal’Atlantic you step aboard an ocean liner and thus back in time. In this beautiful museum you will see how the interiors of ships changed over the years and travel with passengers to the other side of the Atlantic. If your appetite for shipbuilding hasn’t yet been satisfied, you can tour the Chantiers de l’Atlantique, the shipyards of Saint-Nazaire. A two-hour tour with audio guide takes you into the dry docks, into the workshops and close to the cruise ships currently being built. You cannot board the ships under construction. But you can on the submarine Espadon, the famous French submarine that sailed under the polar ice during the Cold War.

La Havana Saint Nazaire - Loire-Atlantique, highlights and tips -
La Havana in Saint-Nazaire
fishermen's cottages Saint Nazaire - Loire-Atlantique, highlights and tips -
A pêcherie along the boulevard of Saint-Nazaire
Escal Atlantique Saint Nazaire - Loire-Atlantique, highlights and tips -
Aboard an ocean liner in Escal’Atlantique
Saint Nazaire - Loire-Atlantique, highlights and tips -
You will find cozy terraces in Saint-Nazaire
Restaurant La Plage Saint Nazaire - Loire-Atlantique, highlights and tips -
Restaurant La Plage at the pier
Beaches Saint Nazaire - Loire-Atlantique, highlights and tips -
Saint-Nazaire has at least 20 beaches
Jardin des Plantes Saint Nazaire - Loire-Atlantique, highlights and tips -
Jardin des Plantes, one of the beautiful parks in Saint-Nazaire


You cross the Loire to Saint-Brevin-Les-Pins via the impressive 68-meter-high and 3356-meter-long Pont de Saint-Nazaire. From the bridge you have a good view of the Saint-Nazaire shipyards and the cruise ships under construction. Saint-Brevin-Les-Pins almost feels like an oasis of calm after lively Saint-Nazaire. You’ll find endless sandy beaches with wide strips of dunes.

Saint-Brevin-Les-Pins lends itself extremely well to exploration by bicycle. Along the coast there are beautiful bike paths that lead you past nice beach bars. If you cycle away from the coast, it is recommended to ride through the long streets of Saint-Brevin-Les-Pins, for example towards the bridge. From the south side of the Loire, you have a nice view of the Pont de Saint-Nazaire and also of the fishermen’s cottages along the banks of the Loire. An activity you can do well in Saint-Brevin-Les-Pins is beach sailing, partly due to the wide beaches and the almost always present wind. If you want to have lunch outside on hot days in a shady area then restaurant Côtes & Dunes highly recommended. Saint-Brevin-Les-Pins is a wonderful place along the Loire-Atlantique coast to take some time for yourself and relax!

Pont de Saint Nazaire Saint Brevin Les Pins - Loire-Atlantique, highlights and tips -
Pont de Saint-Nazaire
Bicycle in Saint Brevin Les Pins - Loire-Atlantique, highlights and tips -
Saint-Brevin-Les-Pins has beautiful biking paths
Le pecherie vissershuisjes Saint Brevin Les Pins - Loire-Atlantique, highlights and tips -
In Saint-Brevin-Les-Pins you also see fishermen’s cottages
Beach sailing in Saint Brevin Les Pins - Loire-Atlantique, highlights and tips -
Beach sailing on the wide beaches of Saint-Brevin-Les-Pins
Beach bars in Saint Brevin Les Pins - Loire-Atlantique, highlights and tips -
A lot of cozy beach bars in this area
Beaches Saint Brevin Les Pins - Loire-Atlantique, highlights and tips -
Saint-Brevin-Les-Pins has miles of sandy beaches


Are you traveling on the French Atlantic coast from one place to another and find yourself near Saint-Michel-Chef-Chef? Then this is definitely worth a stop. After all, here you will find Boutique Atelier St. Michel , where the most famous French cookies come from. In the store of St. Michel you will be amazed; so many different cookies are for sale. In the original packaging but also in nice gift boxes or in colorful tins. It is possible to have a drink and eat a Madeleine, for example, on the small terrace or inside.

Boutique Atelier St Michel in Saint-Michel-Chef-Chef - Loire-Atlantique, highlights and tips -
Boutique Atelier St. Michel


Pornic is, according to many, one of the most beautiful towns along the Loire-Atlantique coast, if not the most beautiful. The town is built on rocks around a long, narrow harbor. On one of the higher banks stands the 12th century Château de Pornic, which makes for a picturesque picture. In Pornic, you can wander to your heart’s content in the old town, where you’ll find narrow streets and quaint stores. Be sure to get an ice cream at La Fraiseraie, where they make ice cream with fresh fruit and added herbs. Lunch in the center is good at Mow. Outside the center is La Crêperie de la Source is highly recommended. If you feel like an activity then this is the perfect place for stand up paddle (supping). In the harbor, the water is calm and once you have mastered supping, you can continue toward the sea. Yoga enthusiasts can attend a yoga workshop on a secluded beach, with a view of fishermen’s cottages, also found here along the coast. Hiring an electric bike bike is not a luxury here, by the way, with all those elevation changes along the rocky shores!

Pornic - Loire-Atlantique, highlights and tips -
Always colorful flags in the center of Pornic
Yoga workshop Pornic - Loire-Atlantique, highlights and tips -
Yoga workshop on the beach of Pornic
Port of Pornic - Loire-Atlantique, highlights and tips -
Port of Pornic at low tide
City center of Pornic - Loire-Atlantique, highlights and tips -
Lovely streets to stroll through
La Fraiseraie Pornic - Loire-Atlantique, highlights and tips -
Famous housemade ice cream of La Fraiseraie
Bicycle in Pornic - Loire-Atlantique, highlights and tips -
Beautifully constructed cycle paths along the coast of Pornic
Port of Pornic - Loire-Atlantique, highlights and tips -
Activity in the port of Pornic

Hôtel Éco-Domaine La Fontaine

A wonderful accommodation to stay in Pornic is Hôtel Éco-Domaine La Fontaine. Éco-Domaine La Fontaine is housed in an old, restored farmhouse very close to the coast. The place has a rich history. For example, boys were trained as priests here around the year 1900 and more than 4,000 wounded soldiers were treated here in World War I. Today, Éco-Domaine La Fontaine is a beautiful eco-residence on 12 acres of land. In the gardens surrounding the accommodation, vegetables, fruits and herbs are grown which are then used for dishes in the restaurant.

The coast at Éco-Domaine La Fontaine is fantastic. Nice and quiet and really a wonderful place to enjoy the sunset in the evening. Little beaches with lots of rocks, fishermen’s houses in the background… fantastic!

Eco Domaine La Fontaine Pornic - Loire-Atlantique, highlights and tips -
Éco-Domaine La Fontaine in Pornic
Eco Domaine La Fontaine restaurant in Pornic - Loire-Atlantique, highlights and tips -
Restaurant Éco-Domaine La Fontaine
Garden of Eco Domaine La Fontaine Pornic - Loire-Atlantique, highlights and tips -
The garden is full of herbs, vegetables and fruits
Restaurant Eco Domaine La Fontaine Pornic - Loire-Atlantique, highlights and tips -
Dishes with ingredients from the garden

More highlights in Loire-Atlantique

I definitely have a return to Loire-Atlantique on the horizon; there is SO much to discover in this coastal region of France. For example, I hear a lot about the chic bay of La Baule, known for its miles of sandy beach and fancy hotels. Guérande must also be special, with its walled medieval city center and surrounding salt marshes. In addition, I would like to spend a few days in Nantes, seems like a beautiful city with Les Machines de l’île, the Nantes Cathedral, the historic buildings and the port. Enough reasons to go that way again and a perfect region to combine with Brittany and Normandy.

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