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Montoir/Saint-Nazaire

Saga Sapphire blog - Captains' blogs

8th May, 2017

A short overnight run took us to the entrance of the Loire, then a further 14 miles to Saint-Nazaire. The ship yard here builds the biggest passenger ships and two were in the process, the pilot advised the yard will build twenty over the next ten years. We berthed a few miles further on and shuttle buses took those not on a tour into Saint-Nazaire, a community very much intent on encouraging cruise visitors.

The tours headed up towards Nantes, a city heavily bombed during the Second World War, but which has some remarkable old buildings. Our walking tour first came to the Cathedral of St.Pierre, a Gothic masterpiece which unfortunately we could not enter as a service was taking place.

Close by the Castle of the Dukes of Brittany overlooked the river, the courtyard surrounded by ramparts was being restored and the main buildings are now used as museums. We continued walking through the streets, relatively empty as this was Armistice Day and a public holiday. 

Our guide Bernard took the time to show us the unusual as well as the expected, a Royal fountain, the grand theatre and the early 17th century Church of Sainte Croix. One café had an amazing interior décor, we all popped in for a quick peak, then over to a glorious late 19th century glass covered shopping arcade.

Finally we crossed the river to where industry and ship building had been, until relatively recent years, the working heart of the city. As this declined a new use had to be found for the land and now it is becoming a great park for relaxing. Perhaps a little different than might have been expected as the theme seems to be based on the dreams and work of Jules Verne, a son of Nantes.

Bernard had been talking about meeting at the ‘Elephant’, a statue perhaps? In fact it was ‘Le Grand Éléphant’, a great mechanised beast that ‘walked’ through the old warehouses carrying up to 50 passengers while sending bursts of damp vapour through its undulating trunk. Great fun.

Back on board, prior to sailing, the passengers had the opportunity of listening to a small group of local players on the dockside, their unusual blend of Celtic and Brittany music being judged perhaps to be an acquired taste, somewhat ‘different’, but not unpleasant.

Captain Philip Rentell

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

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