Brière Natural Park 12.06.2016

Located in the North East of Guérande in the Loire-Atlantique is the Brière Regional Natural Park. France’s second largest area of marshland, covers 154 miles of lower Brittany and is recognised for its diversity of birdlife, flora and fauna.

The park is a true testament to the past and wildlife conservation. More than 50 species of birds migrating between Northern Europe and Africa use the park as a stop-off point. At the Réserve Ornithologique Pierre Constant you can join a trail through the marshes and learn all about the birds, plants and insects to be found all around you. It’s a paradise for birdwatchers, both amateur and professional.

Until the 1950s, the area was known for its peat, historically used by the locals as a cheap form of heating or sold on for profit. Reed picking is a declining cottage industry but still continues in the park. There are more than 3,000 thatched cottages dotted throughout the park, creating an idyllic picture postcard look to the area.

On your travels you will find examples of perfectly preserved hamlets such as the village of Kerhinet, made-up of typical thatched cottages. Visitors step back in time and experience local life in days gone by. You can even go shopping! ‘La Chaumière des Saveurs et de l’Artisanat’ sells regional products including pottery and locally made beer.

One of the most exciting things is navigating the park! The best way to explore is by boat, and not just any ordinary boat, you take a ‘chaland'. It’s a flat-bottomed boat (so you are unlikely to get sea sick as you glide though the marshes!) A ‘must-see’ is St-Joachim, also known as Île Fedrun, one of the best-preserved villages in the park and home of the exclusive hotel and Michelin starred restaurant, La Mare aux Oiseaux . Everything here is delicious! You can sample regional dishes made with eel and duck and also more exotic fusion dishes. You should go and see the museum ‘La Maison de la Mariée’. Its exhibits talk of the traditions of marriage. 

There are plenty of accommodation options for all budgets: camping, gîtes and hotels.

The Brière Regional Natural Park is arguably the liveliest ‘museum’ you’ll ever visit and certainly one of the most beautiful!