The salt marshes… the 'land of white gold'!
This 2,000-hectare site, which is home to more than 280 species of birds, is the focus of attention of the paludiers (the marsh-workers) who, for more than 1000 years, have been practising the skills of their ancestors, handed down from one generation to the next. Because of their wealth of natural and cultural heritage, the Guérande salt marshes were designated as a Site Remarquable du Goût (Site of Special Gastronomic Interest) in 1996.
La Brière… the 'black country'!
The Brière marshes, a land of canals and thatched cottages, and the second largest marshland in France after the Camargue, is one of the Department's ecological treasures. Since 1970, the Brière Regional Natural Park has been responsible for its protection and conservation. It is sometimes known as 'the black country' (because digging for turf was the main activity here for a long time), as opposed to the 'white country' (where salt was extracted).
The best way to see the beauties of this expanse of canals and wetlands is from a chaland, a sleek, flat-bottomed barge steered with a pole. There are more than 3,000 thatched cottages in the Brière marshes, representing 60% of all the thatched cottages in France. You can get an especially good insight into this speciality of the Brière region by visiting the village of Kerhinet, a traditional village restored by the Brière Regional Natural Park.
The Breton Marsh… canals, meadows and reeds!
In the middle ages, Bourgneuf was a prosperous port thanks to the salt trade. With the passage of time, the silting-up of the bay positioned the town 4 kilometres from the coast and gave rise to the Breton Marsh, which today extends for almost 35,000 hectares!
As you travel through the heart of this unusual landscape of canals, pastures and meadows bordered by willows and reeds, with here and there a tiled roof on the horizon, your travelling companions will be herons, coots and sacred ibis!
Although oyster growing and cattle-rearing may be the dominant activities today, you are once again in a land of salt! Enthusiasts are taking over the salt marshes again and will be happy to reveal their skills to you.
You can see an unrivalled view across the marshes from the orientation table at Saint-Cyr-en-Retz.
The Goulaine Marsh
The marsh lies at the approaches to Nantes and in the heart of the Nantes Vineyards Region. It extends over more than 2,000 hectares and is home to many species of birds, butterflies and amphibians. It is also one of the largest spawning areas for pike in the whole of Europe! In the past its canals served to transport wine and stone as far as the Loire.