I have paddle the Loire Estuary below the bridge at Saint-Nazaire on many occasions, but have never ventured further up river. It’s time we took a look.
We arrived at Nantes just before dawn, the lights reflecting on the water looking great
With the boats lightly loaded for a day trip we were ready to go. We were quite fortunate to have arrived at the slip at the same time as a couple of members from a Society called ‘Loire Pour Tous’ … the Loire for everyone.
They very kindly gave us permission to leave our van outside their clubhouse saving us the stress of looking for parking. These guys are involved in the restoration, and new building of the traditional timber barges used on the Loire over the last Century
We passed the enormous Naval museum Maillé Brézé a post WWII French Destroyer, there is an interesting account on the associations website at http://goo.gl/YWDZi
We passed under the Pont de Cheviré which carries the périphérique circular autoroute around Nantes, the graceful curves are much more impressive when viewed from below.
By mid morning the temperature was reaching 18°C and once again I find myself paddling in a T Shirt, Sea temperatures are published as 16°C around the Saint-Nazaire estuary, but the river was probably a degree or two colder.
The dockside cranes are massive and numerous, they hint at the past when Nantes was a busy Port receiving goods from all over the World for onward transmission via the Rivers canal and the road network.
Then we came across this house …… it is in fact a piece of work from the Artist Jean-Luc Courcoult “La Maison dans la Loire” although it is a ‘decorated concrete fabrication’ 5 years on it still looks remarkable ‘real’ The Artist is popularly known as the original founder of the ‘Royal de Luxe’ Theatre company who build giant puppets and perform all over the World
A little further on, at the Lock to the Canal by Le Pellerin, we came across another piece of Art from the artist Erwin Wurm titled “Misconceivable”
The river was now becoming wider, and we also saw the sky getting darker, we knew there wind would be increasing and bringing a heavy front of rain, we still had another 16 km to do.
We reached Montoir de Bretagne about 5 km from our destination when the front arrived, the sky turned a dramatic grey, the herring gulls took off noisily and the Bridge at Saint-Nazaire disappeared from view. Exactly on schedule at 4pm the winds increased to force 5 and we chose to land a km earlier, on the small beach just next to the Port, after clocking up 60.5 kms michelle’s longest day trip todate.
This was an excellent trip, there is so much to see, but at 60 kms, it is a committing journey to undertake on one tidal cycle using the slack water at each side of the cycle, we were on the water for 7 1/2 hours . We also made the trip on a very low neap tide, a high Spring tide would have knocked the kms off quicker.