After a fairly dismal week or so weather-wise, we decided to take a break from work and spend an afternoon in La Baule.
La Baule, officially known as La Baule-Escoublac, is a picturesque seaside resort town located on the Atlantic coast of France. It is situated in the western part of the country, in the Loire-Atlantique department of the Pays de la Loire region. The town is nestled in the Bay of Biscay, part of the broader Atlantic Ocean, and is renowned for its beautiful and expansive beach, which is often considered one of the most attractive in Europe.
Lunch for 12 Euros
Nice menu du jour at La Bergerie on Avenue Générale de Gaulle – 3 courses for less than 12 euros – I took a rouleau of smoked salmon with a chêvre mousse, a stew of beef and carrots, and dessert of panna cotta. Very nice, and the restaurant (despite it being a Thursday in November) was virtually full. The patron said that about 90% were regulars! Given the competition for diners in La Baule, the inclement weather, and the time of year, I think this is impressive.
A quick walk along a quiet seafront – well, it’s still one of the greatest beaches in Europe, even in the middle of November – and then off to the Cinema Gulf Stream…
Potiche is the latest Gérard Depardieu movie, with Catherine Deneuve, a film set in the 1970s about a wife who takes over running her husband’s umbrella business whilst he is hospitalised after a strike at his factory gets out of control. Amusing, easy to understand (pour un Anglais!), and enjoyable – but at 15 euros for the 2 of us, less value for money than our lunch!
Other things to do near La Baule in November
Close to La Baule during November, you can explore historical sites and castles, such as the medieval city of Guérande and the Grand Blockhaus in Batz-sur-Mer. You can also visit attractions like the Casino Barrière La Baule, the Parc des Dryades for nature, and the AquaBaule swimming complex. Additionally, you might enjoy the Espace Culturel Chapelle Sainte-Anne for cultural exhibitions. The weather is moderately chilly, so dressing warmly is advisable.
Le Croisic and Saint Nazaire are also not far away. The Ocearium at Le Croisic and submarine pens in Saint Nazaire are particularly interesting, and of course, are not dependant on the weather!
Les Marais Salants de Guérande
No visit to La Baule is complete without enjoying a trip to the salt marshes at Guérande (Les Marais Salants). The Marais Salants de Guérande, or Guérande Salt Marshes, is an exceptional expanse of wetlands situated near the medieval town of Guérande in the Loire-Atlantique region of western France. This vast network of salt pans, stretching over 2,000 hectares, has been cultivated for their sea salt since the Iron Age, showcasing a tradition that has been passed down through generations. The area is particularly renowned for its ‘Fleur de Sel,’ a premium salt known for its delicate flavor and crystalline structure, harvested manually by skilled workers known as paludiers. These salt workers carefully manage the water flow through the pans to optimize salt production, a meticulous and labor-intensive process that reflects centuries of knowledge and practice.
Beyond its economic and historical significance, the Marais Salants de Guérande also play a crucial role in regional biodiversity. The salt marshes are a haven for numerous bird species, making them a popular site for birdwatching and nature walks. The landscape changes dramatically with the seasons, offering a stunning array of visuals, from the shimmering waters in the summer to the stark, beautiful salt crystals in the harvest season. This unique ecosystem is not only a testament to sustainable agricultural practices but also an area of outstanding natural beauty, attracting tourists, photographers, and nature enthusiasts alike who come to witness the traditional salt harvesting and explore the tranquil beauty of the marshes.