Guérande is a medieval town located about 80 km from Nantes. In the past, it became very wealthy due to the production and trade of salt. Centuries ago, workers took advantage of the tides and built ingenious dams in which seawater gradually evaporated, leaving only salt floating on the surface in the form of a thin crust – “fleur de sel” or “salt flowers”. This form of salt is still highly valued and, due to the laborious type of collection, is the most expensive in the world.
Today, up to 15,000 tons of salt are produced annually in the salt fields using the original method, with small producers being part of a larger cooperative that ensures the sale and promotion of products.
The cooperative also organizes tours of the adjacent salt marshes with a guide. It is advisable to make a reservation in advance, but telephone arrangements may be more difficult due to communication only in French. Tours in English and German are also organized, but with significantly lower frequency.
In the cooperative building, there is an endless variety of salt types, from ordinary to luxurious.
Salt from Guérande, although now a French speciality, is often found in ordinary foodstuffs sold in supermarkets, such as buckwheat chips, which are very popular here. You will also often find it in restaurant salt shakers, where the waiters do not forget (rightly) to proudly mention this fact.
The town of Guérande itself is definitely worth a visit. The historical part is very well preserved and shows the prosperity coming from the salt.
I recommend visiting the salt fields of Guérande, as it is an interesting experience. During one day, you can manage to visit the historic center of Guérande, the salt plains, and the nearby beautiful fishing town of Le Croisic.
I took an alternative way by Blablacar from Nantes to the historical center of Guérande, after which you can walk down a nice walk down the hill about 3 km to the visitor center in the salt fields. After about an hour’s tour, I walked about 5 km through the entire salt fields to the Saillé bus stop, from where I took the bus to Le Croisic. After its tour, the train will reliably take you to the center of Nantes, you can also use the TGV. However, you can complete the route without any problems by car.
Have a nice trip!
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