Quay notes

A steamer manoeuvring in the early 1900's.
The "Normandie dock" links the harbour and the Loire river.
Varini's "triangles" are -partially- visible all over the harbour site.
The visit of the Ecomusée should be part of the walk.

Panoramic views

At the far end of the harbour basin we arrive at a smaller bunker which was built over an existing lock, parallel to the lock we’re crossing on a narrow metal bridge. Up to 1907 this lock was the only harbour entry. Ships arrived at right angles to the main quay, which made manoeuvring a tricky affair for the bigger vessels. Some of them were almost as long as the basin was large… The main lock, built in the continuation of the basin, was therefore a huge progress.

Let’s turn right just after the bunker, pass the entry to the museum submarine Espadon, and here we are at the last station of our walk, the “panoramic terrace”. It can be reached either through a lift or outside stairs, both of which are accessible during the submarine’s opening hours. The view from up there is quite stunning. On the harbour site you get a full view of the submarine base (the trees planted on its roof are a work by landscape artiste Gilles Clément); and further to your right, the second or Penhoët basin which is much bigger than the first and offers no less than 2.8 km of quays.

On the Loire side you can climb another “balcony” for a panoramic view over the Saint-Nazaire bridge, the shipyard, the Loire estuary and the ocean. Directly underneath you see the biggest and last harbour entry, the famous “Normandie dock” which can be used both as a lock and as a dry dock. This monumental construction which dates back to the early 1930’s was the scene of the daring Saint-Nazaire raid in 1942.

Before you leave the terrace you should try and pinpoint the exact position from which Felice Varini’s work of art, “Suite of triangles, Saint-Nazaire 2007” appears complete… and not just as red shapes scattered over the harbour site!

You can now very easily join the car park: just cross again the metal bridge, turn immediately left (quai de Kribi), and 2 minutes later you’ll be back at the starting point.

If you feel like it, several visits can be built into the walk: the submarine Espadon, before or after the panoramic terrace, the heritage museum Écomusée, at the beginning or at the end of the walk for lots of extra information about the history of the town and the harbour. On the other harbour side the pens and the roof of the submarine bunker make for another interesting walk, and you can also visit Escal’Atlantic, the fascinating reconstitution of an ocean liner.