Art and Architecture

The 6,000-year old dolmen
The Kerlédé lighthouse
The "Sammy"

Monuments

Elegantly curved, its towers painted red and white, the Saint-Nazaire bridge, which was opened in 1975, spans the two banks of the Loire Estuary over a distance of 3.3 kilometres, between Saint-Nazaire and Saint-Brévin. It is one of the most important cable-stayed bridges in Europe, rising 61 metres above the Loire River.

The burial mound “Tumulus of Dissignac”, a Historic Monument, is one of the most remarkable sites in the whole region. It was built some 4,000 years B.C. by a farming community. Inside the mound there are two galleries leading to two burial chambers, one of which has engraved stone slabs. Guided visits take place in July and August; for enquiries please ring 00 33 228 540 640.

The so-called “dolmen” is a megalithic stone formation, some 6,000 years old. It stands near the city centre, but hundreds or thousands of years ago, this used to be the bank of the Loire Estuary. Next to the dolmen with its 2 meter-high vertical stones and its horizontal stone weighing 7 tons, there is a 4-metre high “menhir”, or standing stone. The monument is freely accessible.

The Villès-Martin fort dominates the Loire Estuary. It was built in 1861, a reminder of the fact that Saint-Nazaire has always occupied an important strategic position on the coast. The earth wall protecting the site allows for a splendid view over the estuary. The fort itself is open occasionally for exhibitions or cultural events.

Even more impressive views are to be had from the top of the Kerlédé lighthouse… but at the cost of 135 steep and narrow steps! This lighthouse, built half a mile inland, was in service from 1897 to 1961 as part of an alignment of lights guiding ships up the Loire. The lighthouse is open for visitors several times a year; for enquiries please ring 00 33 228 540 640.

The “American monument”, nicknamed “Sammy” or even “Saint-Nazaire’s statue of Liberty”, was inaugurated in 1927, commemorating the 10th anniversary of the arrival of American troops in Saint-Nazaire during World War 1. The German army destroyed the monument in 1941, but due to a Franco-American subscription campaign, it was rebuilt in 1989.