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

An example of seaside architecture.
Many lovingly made details can be found on the houses.

Miraculous survivors...

Immediately you step into a totally different Saint-Nazaire from the modern town you knew. The street is quite as it was in the late 19th century when its inhabitants were shipyard engineers, wealthy merchants, sea captains or Loire pilots. All the houses are different, and all of them are handsome and elegant. The façades are as harmonious as they are varied: here’s one painted in some delicate colour, another one shining white, and over there yet another one presents a façade of cut stone… If you look closely, you will notice that no two patterns on the ironworks of the windows or balconies are the same. Rue Villebois-Mareuil and its adjacent streets seem miraculously to have survived the disaster of World War 2, with practically the whole town razed to the ground.

On top of the street, turn left into rue de Pornichet and left again, returning towards the seaside by rue de La Havane. ”Havana street”… a reminder of the fact that until the war, Saint-Nazaire was a transatlantic harbour. Cuba was one of the destinations served by the regular lines linking Saint-Nazaire to Mexico and Panama. Here too, the whims and fancies of seaside architecture give the street a special atmosphere. Some architects visibly were very much into regional styles –the Basque Country and Normandy being particularly popular at the time- while others simply tried to translate the owners’ fantasies into an individual language of bricks and stones.