Briere Regional Natural Parc, Loire-Atlantique visitors guide
Visit Briere Regional Natural Parc, France
Briere Regional Natural Parc is an extensive region of marshes and canals drained by the river Brivet in the Loire-Atlantique department of north-west France. It is the second largest marsh area in France (after the Camargue region of southern France), with marshes and water ways covering 50% of the surface area of the parc.
In 1970 the region was designated as the Briere Regional Natural Parc to ensure the ongoing protection of the unusual environment, and to assure the protection of the natural environment which is home to a very diverse range of flora and fauna. It was one of the very first regional parcs to be designated in France.
Introduction to Briere Regional Natural Parc
The parc occupies much of the north-west of the Loire-Atlantique to the north of the river Loire, with Saint-Lyphard in the centre of the parc, the historic town of Guerande to the west and the resorts of La Baule-Escoblac and Pornichet to the south.
Historically an important region for providing peat (used for heating) to northern France, Briere is now best known for the large number of thatched cottages in the region, with several thousand of these picturesque properties providing much of the charm of the parc - apparently more than half of all the thatched cottages in France are situated here in Briere!
Tourism within the parc is focussed on quiet enjoyment of this environment, with a large number of marked trails to follow.
Kerhinet and the Maison du Parc
Start your vist at the Maison du Parc (the visitor information centre) at Kerhinet which has information about the various local activities and highlights, as well as bike hire. Not surprisingly the surrounding terrain is very flat and cycling is very easy and an ideal way to explore.
The Maison du Parc is open all year except for a few days around Christmas and New Year.
Kerhinet itself is a carefully restored hamlet of thatched cottages and associated buildings such as washhouse and bread oven which is very picturesque, so be sure to allow time to follow the route around the village before setting off to explore the surrounding countryside and to visit the small museum.
Kerhinet is situated just south-east of the D51 between Guerande and Saint-Lyphard, or west of the D47 between Pornichet and Saint-Lyphard.
Other sites of interest in Briere Regional Natural Parc
The principal historic monument in Briere is the Chateau de Ranrouet, near Herbignac to the north-west of the parc and close to the border with Morbihan (Brittany). The substantial ruins of the castle date from the 13th to the 17th centuries, with enough remaining to clearly see the original walls and five defensive towers of the medieval castle and the deep surrounding moat (now empty). The chateau is open to the public from Easter to the end of September.
In Saint-Lyphard in the centre of Briere Regional Parc it is the church that is the main attraction, and it is possible to ascend the belltower to see the bells and a small exhibition about the heritage of the region. It is the view from the top that is the highlight of a visit, with views across the flat marshlands reaching as far as Saint-Nazaire and Guerande.
The Dolmen de Kerbourg, south-west of Saint-Lyphard and a short distance west of the Kerhinet visitor centre, is a substantial seven metre long dolmen called Kerbourg 1. This prehistoric structure still retains the covering stones that create a covered 'corridor'. A second dolmen at the same site called Kerbourg 2 is in much poorer condition and largely collapsed, and there is also a two metre high menhir here called the Menhir de la Pierre Blanche.
The town of Guerande is just outside the south-west border of the parc and one of our favourite historic walled towns in France. If you are staying at one of the popular resorts along the coast of the Loire-Atlantique such as Le Croisic, La Baule-Escoblac and Pornichet we recommend you find the time to visit both Guerande and Kerhinet and follow a trail around the Briere Parc as a change from the beach!
Map of Briere Regional Natural Parc and places nearby
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Sightseeing & tourist attractions to visit nearby
- Briere: regional natural parc (3 km)
- Marais Salants de Guérande: site of natural beauty (6 km)
- Guerande: recommended detour (12 km)
- La Baule: ville fleurie 4* (14 km)
- Pornichet: ville fleurie 4* (15 km)
- Loire Estuaire: site of natural beauty (18 km)
- Parc zoologique du château de Branféré: zoo or wildlife park (23 km)
- Marais de Vilaine: site of natural beauty (24 km)
- Pointe Sainte-Gildas: site of natural beauty (30 km)
- Rochefort-en-Terre: ville fleurie 4* (33 km)
- La Vraie-Croix: ville fleurie 4* (37 km)
- Passage Saint-Armel: site of natural beauty (38 km)
The French version of this page is at Briere Regional Natural Parc (Francais)