July might well be a good time to visit the west coast of France and, in particular, to enjoy exploring from Saint-Nazaire up towards Guérande and Vannes. The landscape is a stunning mix of inland tributaries and coastal plains. August, as it turned out for us, was the busiest vacation time of the year in France; so planning well ahead is critical for your holiday enjoyment.
One distinctive feature of the coastal areas is the relative modernity. We discovered a somber reason for that was the extensive bombing of the region by Allied planes. This was the locale for the headquarters of the German submarines that were wreaking havoc on Allied supply ships in the Atlantic. Entire cities were incinerated, to be rebuilt in the late 1940’s and beyond.
A little further up the coast, you will enjoy the lovely medieval city of Guérande. The city center is entirely encircled by heavily fortified walls with 6 towers and 4 gates, as if to assure the preservation of this place in time. After the siege in 1343 by Charles de Bois troops, Jean de Montfort ordered further fortifications.
We hope to visit here again, to allow time for slow discovery of this fascinating and beguiling ville – the collegiate church of Saint-Aubin, the surrounding salt flats, the megaliths and Gallo-Roman remains in the area and the gorgeous Bay of La Baule. Perhaps in September, when life is a bit calmer?
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