La Roche Bernard

Introduction to La Roche-Bernard La Roche-Bernard is a small town in Southern Brittany. It is a very exciting place to visit for many reasons. The town is situated on the River Vilaine, and plays host to a myriad of small boats in its natural harbour. Two superb...

Local Activities

Whatever your interests, the Brittany / Pays de la Loire region of France certainly offers an incredible range of local activities. From walking to sailing or from playing golf to relaxing on one of the many glorious sandy beaches. Do you prefer a self-catering...

La Brière

A 5 minute drive from La Roche Bernard takes you to the Parc Naturel Régional de La Brière. The park includes the largest wetland area in France outside of the Camargue. It covers around 100,000 acres. Its establishment in 1970 aimed to  protect the cultural and...

Markets in France selling food, crafts and antiques

Visiting local food, craft, and antiques markets in France is one of the most pleasurable experiences enjoyed by holidaymakers. This certainly applies to Brittany and the Pays de la Loire regions. Whether you are looking for local Pottery, Speciality salt from the...

Holiday Website Tips (2) – Be easy to contact

Make sure there is a clear and obvious way for people to get in touch with you wherever they are on your website. Failure to do so could result in lots of potential bookings finding their way to somebody else's website. A few simple ideas may make all the difference...

Today we visited Saint Nazaire. A working coastal town, maybe a city, it is certainly big enough. I like it. Everything is big. Huge industrial plant lines the docks, massive cranes are working everywhere, diggers, building sites, regeneration on an enormous scale.

During the Second World War, the Germans built a huge dry dock which held, restocked and repaired their submarines. With fifteen submarine pens it was a massive engineering project which took 140,000 cubic metres of concrete. The British were very keen to destroy these pens but the German submarines were protected by a 3.5 meter thick concrete roof which protected them from British bombs. Reinforcement of the roof would continue throughout the war, always counteracting the technical progress that the Allies make regarding bombardment.

St Nazaire submarine pens

St Nazaire Submarine Pens

Raid on St Nazaire

Unable to penetrate the concrete roof of the submarine pens the Allies turn to Saint Nazaire’s town centre. On the night of February 15th/16th 1942, Saint-Nazaire’s town centre is bombarded for the first time. During the year following the raid on St Nazaire life for its inhabitants quickly becomes unbearable and by 1st March all that is left of the town is a immense field of rubble, completely deserted, in the middle of which stands the massive silhouette of the submarine pens, intact.

We head for the docks. The submarine pens are still there. Immense. We are blown away by the size and the sheer mass of reinforced concrete. We freely wander through these submarine pens.

Escal’ Atlantic – Shipbuilding exhibition

We then stumble across Escal’Atlantic. There is a ticket office and nothing else. What is it? No idea. We buy tickets and climb a gangplank. We are suddenly in the Normandie. We are in a true reconstruction of the Normandie Cruise Liner, built in 1935. For the next two hours we traveled through time and discovered what life was like in 1935 on board Normandie.

We will return to Saint Nazaire.

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