stay in Pays de Retz
Retz is the name of a beautiful natural region beginning just
south of Brittany's Atlantic atlantic port at St. Nazaire, stretching
East to the Loire estuary town of Nantes and South to the Vendée.
It is an area whose coast line is dotted with fishing villages
separated by rocky coves and sandy beaches.
Inland, the Pays de Retz is truffled with rivers, canals and
Nature reserves abound in this unspoilt environment with its
gentle climate, fascinating heritage sites, wildlife habitats
and dozens of typical French villages and towns.
This is a land of lasting beauty, ideal for holidays for all
the family, all year round.
The Jade Coast winds south from the Loire seaside resort
of St.Brevin (from the Kentish word for 'brewing') named
after an 8th century archbishop of Canterbury.
Long sandy beaches give way to rocky coves around the picturesque
rocky spur of ST.Gildas Point to Pornic, a harbour town
built in amphitheatre form above a creek, dominated by a
13/14th century chateau.
speed-sailing and boat trips along the coast are popular
with everyone, while more sporting activities also abound.
way-marked Customs Footpath (Sentiers des Douaniers) offers
fine views over the bays and provides excellent walking
skywards on their stilts just off the coast, you'll see
the curious but very effective traditionnal fishing huts
perched high above the waves.
stop in any of the pleasant fishing towns is a must for
trying a selection ot the best fresh produce the ocean
to inland magic
off eastwards from St.Brevin along the Loire estuary brings
you first to Paimboeuf, a jewel of a port, for many years
a major dockyard, now an unspoilt entrance to one of France's
four major waterways, the river Loire.
A parallel 19th century canal takes you off to the inland
rivers and the great lake at Grand Lieu with its vast
nature reserve. The excellent sunshine record of Pays
de Retz explains the Muscadet vineyards, while the abundance
of well irrigated fertile soil provides a wide variety
of delicious local produce all year round.
Add to this an unspoilt, multifaceted countryside just
waiting to the explored on foot, horseback, bike or car
; a variety of delightful country towns and villages with
history as rich as their cuisine ; plus a wide range of
cultural and leisure activities throughout the year, and
you'll understand why a first visit to The Pays de Retz
generally leads to a return !
clear and cryptic past
Clearly visible from sea and shore is Pornic'chateau,
the seat of the 13th c. Duke of Rais. A faithful follower
of Joan of Arc, Gilles (supposedly the model for 'Bluebeard')
went on to become Marshal of France before committing
rather gruesome murders and other acts of villainy which
earned him both the death sentence
and a lasting
more saintly building is the XIth c. Prigny chapel
at Les Moutiers. An important stop on the pilgrims
route to Compostella, the rich interiors belie the
sombre 'Black Friars cowl' look of the slated belltower.
Many other churches and chapels that pepper the region
are also well worth the visit.
complex but more cryptic forms are those of the Celtic
standing stones (menhirs) to the found in the Chauvé
region, on the coast and at St.Père en Retz,
An English Cemetery
at Pornic recalls the tragedy of the Lancastria troop
ship sunk by the Luthwaffe in 1940.
good countryside cure
On land, water, and in the air, sport and leisure
activities abound here. From gentle walks to competition
hanggliding ; a lazy day's fishing (coast, sea,
river) to horseriding over the dunes and on through
the polders to the backwoods and beyond.
will find golf courses, while Animal Park fans
will discover the most unusual inhabitants of
course, there's a lot of sailing to be had, sea
excursions aroud the bays and boat trips up the
thematic waymarked walking paths cover much of
the finest countryside of Pays de Retz and bring
you into closer contact with the life and customs
of the region.
backpackers and horseriders will delight in the
wide choice of activities and routes available.
Whether following the coast or trotting off inland,
these treks will lead you to botanical gardens.
naturalists and wildlife lovers will enjoy the
Marais Breton area with its 200 nesting or migrating
arts and crafts scene flourishes here, from local
enamelwork, through wood sculpture, to potteries,
artist's studios and brass sculptors. For those
who favour the fine French custom of colourful
fetes in villages and towns, the calendar lasts
frim April to October.
all, about 1,000 events, from annual village fetes
to airshows and the splendid fireworks displays,
bring the people and visitors together in a warmly
welcoming atmosphere where the tall traditional
local head-dresses stand out clearly above the
all the colourful local markets, everyday is an
Event somewhere in the area ! Behind their stalls
and trestle tables groaning under the abundance
of succulent local produce, the vendors and producers
provide a joyfully animated natural ambiance whatever
a tour of the local brewery ans taste traditional
beer ; design your own porcelain plate at
the Pornic pottery ; learn how salt is produced
on the marshes ; but don't forget to try the delicious
local strawberries with their assorted sorbets
events concerned with sea and ships, fishing and
sea-food abound, but the varietygoes much further
: musical festivals and traditionnal 'Fest Noz'
run alongside Wine fairs, Harvest festivals, Theatre,
street festivals and numerous gastronomically
inclined excuses to roll out the wine barrels.
and sea-food mingle with the muscles and sea-wise
on the menus of so many regattas, to the delight
of booth participants and spectators.
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