In Loire-Atlantique, there is a medieval town surrounding by amazing scenery: Guérande. Come and explore this Town of Art and History through its extraordinary historical and natural heritage. On one side, you have the salt marshes stretching for over 2,000 hectares and offering a patchwork of shapes and colours. And on the other, a town that is still full of medieval character, as evidenced by the ramparts with six towers and four fortified gates. They are just over 1,300 metres long, and a third of them can be visited by taking the wall walk from the St. John Tower to the St. Anne Tower. Next, enter Guérande through the main entrance, the St. Michael Gate, dating from the 15th century. Then walk along the cobbled streets lined with old houses beneath slate roofs, and head towards the Collegiate Church of St. Albinus. The nave and pillars are all that remains of the original Romanesque church that was burnt down in 1342. The current monument dates from the 15th and 16th centuries and was built in a Flamboyant Gothic style. Also notice the stone arches and stained glass windows from the 19th century. Music-lovers take note: in summer, the collegiate church hosts organ concerts. Also don't forget to visit the 13th-century Chapel of Notre-Dame-la-Blanche, which happens to be the oldest building within the town walls and has a single nave.
Guérande also offers some interesting discoveries outside the town walls: the Porte-Calon Manor whose main building dates back to the 15th century, the 18th-century Ursuline convent, a typical 15th-century Breton "petit pied" windmill known as the Devil's Mill, and the 14th-century Careil Castle, whose medieval façades have wonderful Renaissance dormers.
Charming medieval city, Guérande takes place in the heart of the Pays de la Loire, in the department of Loire-Atlantique. Surrounded by salt marshes that have made its reputation, the town is located about fifteen kilometers from Saint-Nazaire, not far from the shores of the Atlantic Ocean.
Former, the town of Guérande has experienced a dwelling since prehistoric times, and the one that today is called the Guérande peninsula alone has nearly half of megalithic monuments remaining in the department. But we must wait until antiquity for the city to exist as such, including the presence of several farms. The activity of salt marshes, but also viticultural, began during the Middle Ages, in the fourteenth century, and made the city famous over the centuries.
Very touristy, this beautiful city of Loire-Atlantique seduced by its ancient architecture, as much as for its attachment to cultural traditions. The beauty of the landscapes and the numerous tourist sites which surround Guérande make it a privileged place in this part of the west of France. The city thus benefits from the label City of Art and History.
The charming medieval town of Guérande will make you travel in the time of the knights and Queen Anne of Brittany. You will love losing yourself in its flowery streets and admire its centenary facades. At the corner of the streets, creperies, kouign amann and caramels are enjoyed without moderation. In fine weather, the market days take on the air of festivals thanks to the street musicians and the colorful decorations.
There are many traces of medieval times in the narrow streets of Guérande, like the ramparts still present in their entirety. Classified as Historical Monuments, they allow to appreciate the centuries of history which succeeded in the city. Thus, the Porte de Saillé dates from the 12th century, while the Porte Vannetaise reveals a typical architecture of the second half of the 13th century. As you walk through these ancient defenses, do not miss the Saint-Jean tower, from the 15th century, or the splendor of the Saint-Michel gate. Monumental, the latter was built at the beginning of the XVIIth century and unveils the coat of arms of the city of Guérande, two helmeted lions. Long of more than 1400 meters, the ramparts are the occasion of a beautiful walk in the oldest parts of the places.
In the heart of this medieval city, the Saint-Aubin collegiate church has also been classified as a Historic Monument. Built partly in the 12th century, it was strongly redesigned in the 15th and 16th centuries. One can in particular admire there very beautiful stained-glass windows representing the history of Margaret of Antioch or even Saint Dominic receiving the rosary.
Other religious buildings occupy the territory of Guérande, following the example of the Ursuline convent listed in the Historic Monuments. Built between the end of the seventeenth century and the beginning of the eighteenth century, it then became a seminary. Today the site of the Hotel des Impôts, the Saint-Jean chapel dates from the beginning of the 15th century. Earlier still, the Notre-Dame-la-Blanche chapel was classified as a Historic Monument. Built partly in the 13th century, it was greatly modified in the 19th century with the addition of a bell tower.
Rich in prehistoric heritage, the city possesses several megalithic monuments classified or inscribed in the Historic Monuments like the dolmen of Sandun, or menhirs of Bissin, the Chapel and Keroland.
Founded in 1928, the museum of the country of Guérande is labeled Museum of France. Undergoing restructuring today, it normally uncovers collections on the history, arts, and popular traditions of the city and its region. These include traditional costumes, salt marsh furniture painted red, or earthenware and headdresses.
Walking through Guérande, you will discover ancient mills, such as that of Crémeur, also known as the mill of the devil. Other windmills used to grind flour are also present in the area.
Fortified manor house registered in the Historic Monuments, the castle of Careil dates from the end of the fourteenth century. It presents a Renaissance Breton style and still unveils today medieval elements like loopholes or paths of round.
Salt Land, Guérande is best known for its marshes that produce its famous white gold. You can discover them during a few walks, admiring the fauna and the local flora. The wood of Villeneuve, big of more than five hectares, is also a place of appreciated walk in the region.
The market of Guérande is held every Wednesday and Saturday morning inside the ramparts. A fish market is also organized every day except Mondays and Thursdays.
Every year in May, Guérande offers its famous medieval festival. Each year, the themes chosen reflect the history of the city, from the late Middle Ages to the present day, offering costumed re-enactments as well as various festive animations.
Every Friday in July and August, the Saint-Aubin collegiate church hosts the La Voix des Orgues music festival with various concerts.
On the Sunday closest to the 22nd of July, the Mtes festival is a folklore event featuring fireworks, concerts, a craft market or many activities.
In July, the Terres Blanches music festival offers a very family-friendly program.
The Celtics of Guérande take place in August. It is an opportunity to attend concerts, old games, fest-noz or traditional re-enactments.
Created by the journalist and writer Patrick Poivre d'Arvor, the city's book festival is held every November with conferences, exhibitions, dedications and meetings.
A Christmas market is proposed in December.