The town has a fine port and shipbuilding has long been an important industry. In the 20th century, aircraft manufacture became important; Airbus have a large factory in the town.
During World War II, the drydock at Saint-Nazaire was the only one on the Atlantic coast of German-held France that could repair large vessels such as battleships. British raiders put it out of commission in 1942 by ramming it with a destroyer (an old ship that had been built for the US Navy during World War I) packed with explosives; it was not repaired until 1947.
The Route nationale N165/N161 (E60 route) connects Saint-Nazaire to Nantes and Rennes via the Pont de Saint-Nazaire, which crosses the Loire. Paris is then accessed via the A10/A11 in Nantes. Valves, Lorient, Quimper and Brest are accessed via the N165.
Saint-Nazaire railway station is served by the TGV and regional trains and buses of the TER Pays de la Loire. TGV (high speed train) connection from Paris, Lyon, Marseille, Lille, and Strasbourg, with trains from Paris via the LGV Atlantique taking just over 2 hours. TER Pays de la Loire provides service from Nantes, Angers, Le Mans, La Roche sur Yon, and other regional cities and towns.
Saint-Nazaire airport is 5 km (3 mi) south-east of Saint-Nazaire, in the commune of Montoir-de-Bretagne.
International travel is via Nantes Atlantique Airport, the biggest airport in western France, linking with several French and European cities as well as Montreal in Canada (seasonally) and some cities in North Africa.
- EuroVelo 6: Saint-Nazaire is one end of the EuroVelo 6 or EV6, also known as the “Eurovéloroute des Ranches”, a EuroVelo-type cycle route that connects Saint-Nazaire to Constanţa in Romania. It is 3,653 km long, crossing Europe from from the Atlantic Ocean to the Black Sea, passing through ten countries. It follows the route of three of the largest European rivers: the Loire, the Rhine and the Danube.
- Vélocéan: Vélocéan is a cycle route on the Atlantic coast in the Loire-Atlantique department, and therefore serving Saint-Nazaire.
A free electric shuttle connects the theater car park (free parking) to the city center in a few minutes, passing through the Tourist Office and the city's flagship tourist facility "Escal'Atlantic".
Saint-Nazaire and the other municipalities of its agglomeration are served by a fairly dense public transport network, managed by STRAN. In addition to getting around town, the buses can, for example, also help you cross the Grande Brière (Lines 2, 3 & 4, towards Saint-André-des-Eaux , Saint-Joachim , Saint-Malo-de- Guersac , or Line 9 towards Besné), then drop you off near the "Most beautiful beach in Europe" La Baule and Pouliguen (Line 6 & 7, towards Pornichet). For a minimum price of €1.2 per trip (transfers are prohibited for single tickets). The "FREEDOM TICKET" ticket, valid for one day on the entire STRAN and TY'BUS network. Price: €3.5
The Hélyce bus route connects Saint-Marc sur Mer to Saint-Nazaire station in less than 20 min.
- City-port zone: the submarine base, the port, the forms of construction of the liners. Very nice point of view from the roof of the submarine base.
- The wild coast: Follow the customs path that runs along the coast from the beaches of Saint-Nazaire to the beaches of Saint-Marc-Sur-Mer and beyond to Pornichet.
- Saint-Marc-sur-Mer, with its pleasant beach immortalized by Jacques Tati in his film Les vacances de Monsieur Hulot (1951-53).
- Airbus Saint-Nazaire, Saint-Nazaire Tourisme & Patrimoine 3 boulevard de la Légion d’Honneur France, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Generally on Wednesday and Friday; extra visits during French school holidays. A must-see for any aviation enthusiast, tours meet at the submarine base and you board a bus to be taken to the Airbus plant. Inside you'll see various stages of aircraft manufacture and different processes will be explained. Tours available in English. Free up to 4 years; €7 age 4-14; €14 full price.
- Le Grand Café, Place des Quatre z'horloges (by bus: Quatre z'horloges stop on line U2, or Rue de la Paix stop on Hélyce line), ☏ . Sep-Jun: Tu-Su 14:00-19:00, Jul-Aug: Tu-Su 11:00-19:00. A contemporary art center, housed in a 19th-century building.
- The Espadon submarine, Avenue de la Forme-Ecluse, ☏ .
- Escal'Atlantic, Boulevard de la Légion-d'Honneur, ☏ . Discover the fascinating history of transatlantic liners though exhibits, a “life on board” atmosphere, and multimedia devices. In English, French, German and Spanish. Three levels, 134 stairs.
- The Avenue de Saint-Hubert ecomuseum, ☏ . the history of a city, a port and its industries. Explanatory panels in French, a tour guide is available at reception for English, German and Spanish tours.
The city of Saint-Nazaire manages many sports facilities: swimming pools and climbing walls, nautical bases (sailing, canoeing, kayaking, rowing) and fitness trails, stadiums, gymnasiums.
- Bowling de Saint Nazaire Allée de la mer d'Iroise - Oceanis Zone
- Equestrian centres
- Les Escales first weekend in August. World Music Festival.
The coast of Saint-Nazaire has more than 20 beaches from the city centre to the limits of Pornichet. They offer very varied spaces. They are almost all accessible by the U3 bus line.
From Petit Maroc (Le port) to Pointe à Villès-Martin, three sandy, urban beaches.
- Petit Traict beach, which is very close to the outer harbor jetty, has a children's play area
- the Grand Traict beach, very sensitive to tides
- the beach of Villès-Martin, more suitable for swimming, supervised in summer, accessible to disabled people, volleyball courts.
From Villès-Martin to Pointe de l'Eve: beaches in the form of rather well sheltered coves: Kerlédé beach, Kerloupiot beach, Belle Fontaine beach, Lion Rock beach, Bonne Anse beach, Porcé beach, Trébezy beach, Virechat beach, Port Charlotte Beach, Fort de L'Ève beach (which has a large campsite).
From Pointe de l'Ève to Pointe de la Lande (limit between Saint-Nazaire and Pornichet), the coast measures a little more than 3 km. These are rocky cliffs with many beaches, first oriented to the south-east:
- the beach of Courance (supervised in summer) known for the practice of bodyboard and skimboard
- Saint-Marc beach known as Monsieur Hulot: supervised in summer, accessible to disabled people.
- Saint-Eugène beach
- Grand Traict beach, renowned among surf enthusiasts for its spots
- Géorama beach and manor
- the Petite Vallée beach, partly naturist.
The tip of Chemoulin between the estuary of the Loire and the Atlantic Ocean, carries the fort of Chemoulin, occupied by the French Navy which manages the Chemoulin semaphore there and ensures the control of maritime traffic at the entrance of the estuary; the fort also houses the CROSS.
Beyond Chemoulin, the coast faces south-west:
- the beach of the Jaunais cove, sometimes called the Chemoulin cove, well protected from the wind by high cliffs, is a naturist beach;
- the Jaunais beach (supervised in summer) is the last beach in Saint-Marc, on the edge of the town of Pornichet.
These last two beaches share a large free car park and a reception area for camper vans.
- Centre Hospitalier, hospital, emergencies. Boulevard Georges-Charpak, ☏