Visit Guerande (Pays de la Loire, France)
Guérande is a historical walled town near the sea, at the western edge of the Pays de la Loire region, on the edge of the marshes of Grande-Brière. It formed part of Brittany until 1941 but now falls within the Pays de la Loire region of France.
Guerande is a very attractive walled town, on a peninsula known as the Guerande peninsula. Although not strictly a peninsula, the town is surrounded by the Atlantic to the west, and the marshlands to the east, with the Loire River to the south and the Vilaine River to the North.
The town has a medieval city that is completely enclosed by ramparts, strong defensive walls dating from the 15th century. It is this 'intra-muros' (within the walls) part of Guerande that is of interest to visitors.
The historical town of Guerande is accessed through the fortified gateways in the defensive walls. There are two large elaborately decorated stone gateways in the walls and two smaller side doors, added more recently.
Inside the walls a number of ancient cobbled streets and lots of attractive buildings radiate around the centre of the town eventually leading to the more open areas around the impressive Collegiate Church of Saint Aubin. You will also find several bars and restaurants with outdoor eating areas here in the centre of Guerande.
The collegiale church that we see today dominating the town centre is largely a 14th century rebuilding of the church in the gothic style, although some parts of the earlier roman style church that previously stood here can still be seen, such as some columns and capital stones. Inside the church are some elaborately carved altars in the chapels and some very richly coloured stained glass windows added around the 16th century.
Elsewhere in Guerande there is another church, some grand 16th century townhouses, and lots of small 'gift' shops. There are also a few cafes near the centre.
There are two museums in Guerande - the castle museum (in one of the fortified gateways) and a doll museum. Be sure to find the doll museum even if you don't plan to go in, it is in the 16th century Chapelle Saint Jean, a building with an interesting history that functioned as a hospital for almost 350 years through the late medieval period.
The area around Guerande is best known for the salt flats which have provided the town with several centuries of wealth. The salt drying pans can be seen on many of the river inlets in the region, where the salt is dried and harvested using traditional methods (the water is slowly channelled into increasingly shallow pools as the water evaporates and the salt becomes more concentrated, until the salt can be harvested in the very final pools).
There is a 'salt museum' if you are interested in learning more about the importance of this industry to the history of Guerande.
If you need a beach after all that history then we suggest La Baule, an attractive beach and upmarket resort just a few kilometres from Guerande.
Photos of Guerande
Click any picture to start the gallery
Tourist classifications for Guerande
Guerande has received the following tourist classifications: recommended detour town (plus beau detour); historical protected town centre' (secteur sauvegardé); listed town of Art and History
Address: Guérande, Saint-Nazaire, Loire-Atlantique, Pays de la Loire, 44350 || GPS: latitude 47.327, longitude -2.429
Map of Guerande & places nearby
Highlights close by
La Baule 5km
Le Pouliguen 5km
La Turballe 6km
Suggested tourist attractions to visit near Guerande, France
- La Baule - ville fleurie 4* (5km)
- Pornichet - ville fleurie 4* (9km)
- Marais Salants de Guérande - site of natural beauty (9km)
- Briere - regional natural parc (14km)
- Loire Estuaire - site of natural beauty (23km)
- Pointe Sainte-Gildas - site of natural beauty (26km)
- Parc zoologique du château de Branféré - zoo or wildlife park (30km)
- Golfe du Morbihan - site of natural beauty (41km)
- Aquarium de Vannes - aquarium (43km)
- Vannes - town of art and history (44km)
Market days in Guerande: Regular market(s) are held in Guerande each Wednesday & Saturday. (Markets are held in the morning unless stated.)
The French version of this page is at Guerande (Francais)