Saint-Nazaire's "Belle Epoque" by the seaside

Children love the new play area on the beach.
One of the big stately houses on the boulevard.

Fashionable beach

You can park easily in the lower part of avenue de Gaulle, near the church of Saint-Nazaire, at the shopping centre Ruban Bleu or place du Commando (see city map). From there, the seafront is only a few metres away. If you have children, you might have to negotiate before starting the walk: the kids will certainly want to try out immediately the superb play area on the beach, made of drift wood and rope, which has been put up last spring.

As you walk along boulevard Wilson, the façades tell you a lot about what this part of town was like 100 or 120 years ago. Stately, prosperous-looking houses face the sea, many of them presenting decorative elements such as bow windows which were quite typical of the so-called seaside architecture. In the 19th century, the way people thought about the sea began to change. Little by little, it was no longer merely associated with danger and hard work, but came to mean pleasure and good health. Sea-bathing became all the craze, if only for health reasons at the beginning. Around 1900, the beach where the play area is now, used to be a very fashionable place. Whole families, very decently clad, complete with hats and boots, would laze on the sand; some people began to sport “shocking” bathing costumes which over time no longer shocked anybody any more.

Continue walking along the beautifully redeveloped seaside promenade until the Square du Souvenir Français with its statue. There turn right into rue Villebois-Mareuil.
 

The beach in the early 1900's...