A Town and its Harbour

Today the submarine base houses the main attractions
Where is the big ship?

Ville-Port, reconciliation between City and Port

For several decades after the war, the town, rebuilt with its back turned on the harbour, was still bearing the scar left by the submarine base, this huge 300 metre long bunker, separating the town from its harbour. Since the last years of the 20th century however, a very important rehabilitation programme, “Ville-Port”, designed by Catalan architect Manuel de Sola, has succeeded in making the submarine base a part of the town and giving its identity as a maritime city back to Saint-Nazaire. What was a black spot in the urban landscape is now a major attraction: the submarine pens are the heart of the new tourist destination, sheltering Escal’Atlantic, the “Ocean Liner Experience”, a unique evocative museum, which opened in April 2000.

Other cultural venues have since opened in the former U-boat pens; nearby, a supermarket, a cinema, hundreds of apartments, an upmarket shopping centre (called “Ruban Bleu”, the “Blue Riband”), a three-star hotel (Holiday Inn Express) and Saint-Nazaire’s new theatre, built on the site of nearby 1860’s railway station, have turned the Ville-Port district into a very lively part of the town.

The "Ruban Bleu" shopping centre near the docks