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Published: June 13th 2014
We are being extremely lucky with our weather. Another glorious blue sky day for our very short drive to the mouth of the Loire at St Nazaire.
Plan for the day was to visit the submarine pens and anything else which took our fancy as we had plenty of free time before our evening ferry to Spain.
Very easy to park, free space in abundance in the old dock area so we parked and went in to buy tickets.
We paid for €19 tickets to visit the Submarine (called the Espadon), the luxury liner (Escal’Atlantic) and the Eco Museum. No cameras allowed inside so no photos to follow !
The museums are all sited within the submarine pens built by the Germans in World War ll to house their submarine fleet. Tons and tons of concrete, impenetrable, unfortunately, to air attacks by the Allies.
We visited the liner first which was an excellent exhibition. The walk along the deck with a moving and very realistic view out to sea was really rather amazing – as dolphins and porpoises leapt out of the waves in front of us then a storm passed overhead. The highlight
of the visit was at the very end when we were led out to a life boat which was lowered down a level to the exit.
We were amused to meet up with a family from the Netherlands that we had first spotted en board the Nantes elephant, then later in the café in Nantes where we stopped for drinks and here again, on the liner in St Nazaire. Small world and all that.
.Everything closed 1pm-2pm for lunch so we went back to the Tandy for lunch then drove round to park on the other side of the dock for our other visits.
First of all, a real submarine, French, built early 1960s and therefore after the war and never used in active service but complete with plenty of fire power and a torpedo chamber. The original stepladders for access have been replaced by proper staircases. Never seen as many buttons and valves and wheels in one place before and impossible to imagine what it must be like to live in one of these noisy reverberating ‘sardine tins’ deep under water for days on end. Only one shower on board – cold seawater, so must
have been quite a smelly place as well as incredibly noisy and cramped.
Last visit was the Eco-Museum which was an exhibition of the development of the port of St Nazaire starting with when it was first established as a ship building port in the mid 1800s, an alternative to Nantes. It then grew exponentially with the arrival of the Americans in WW l, then invaded by the Germans in WW ll who concreted it over for their submarine dock. Then bombed to nothing by the Allies.
Now safely back in French hands it remains a concrete monument which is well worth a visit.
We spent a couple of hours sitting in the sun on the river bank as again parking was easy, lots of spare land round here. Then off to the ferry port for our 7pm LD Lines ferry to Gijon in Spain.
Everything just like clockwork. We checked in, queued, boarded, found our cabin and settled down for a short sea trip.
Interesting to travel under rather than over the St Nazaire impressive bridge so we stayed on deck in the lovely sunshine for a while before dinner in
the restaurant, a turn on the deck and then an early night.
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