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Bourgneuf en Retz, Fresnay en Retz, La Marne, Machecoul, Paulx, St Etienne de Mer Morte, St Mars de Coutais and St Même le Tenu

Bourgneuf en Retz

In the XI century Saint Cyr, the first major town of the present community, gradually became inaccessible by sea because the “Bay of Brittany” silted up. To regain access to the sea a new town had, therefore, to be built, closer to the coast. That’s how “Bourg neuf” got its name : new town. Thanks to the salt trade, Bourgneuf prospered until the seventeenth century to the point of giving its name to the bay : Bay of Bourgneuf.
Today, even if there are only few traces of the glorious past, the town remains very dynamic. As Bourgneuf en Retz is at a strategic crossroads between sea, marshes and countryside, there is a lot for you to do here : fishing, hiking, discovering local produce (salt, wine, oysters and farm produce), as well as local craftsmen, and artists, not to mention Pays de Retz Museum…There is such a diversity at your disposal that there is something for everyone.
The particularity of the community is that it has two churches and two towns : Saint Cyr en Retz and Bourgneuf en Retz. It covers an area of 5,200 hectares. Its landscapes are diverse ; the Breton marsh covers 43% of the area and includes salt marshes ; besides this there are hillsides dotted with vineyards and copses to the north.
These various landscapes can be seen from the viewpoint indicator in St Cyr, 34 meters above sea level.
The inhabitants of Bourgneuf en Retz are called Novobourgeois(es) or Novembourgeois(es) and the inhabitants of St Cyr - Saint Cyrien(ne)s.

Contact :
Mairie de Bourgneuf en Retz
Place de la Mairie
Tel. : +33 (0)2 40 21 40 07
Fax : +33 (0)2 40 21 40 11

Fresnay en Retz

Fresnay en Retz is close to the Breton-Vendée marshes, on a major roadway linking Saint-Nazaire and the Vendée. The name “Fresnay-en-Retz” comes from fresnaie : “forest of ash trees”. Various paths and lanes lead strollers to the viewpoint of la Noë Briord, with a beautiful panorama below. A delightful route through the marshes enables newcomers to learn a lot about the fauna and flora of the Breton marshes.
Fresnay en Retz is a small rural community which covers 2,049 hectares.
Its inhabitants are called Fresnaysiens and Fresnaysiennes

Contact :
Mairie de Fresnay en Retz
24 rue de Pornic
44580 Fresnay en Retz
Tel. : +33 (0)2 40 21 41 32
Fax : +33 (0)2 40 21 91 02

La Marne

La Marne is an ideal place for cyclists and mountain bikers, strollers and people who are in search of calm and quiet, far from the madding crowd. Partially bordered by the forest of Machecoul, La Marne is the green spot you mustn’t miss in the Machecoul region. The name of La Marne comes from the Celtic matronas : "source". It is a small rural town covering an area of 1,780 hectares.
Its inhabitants are called Marnais and Marnaises.

Contact :
Mairie de La Marne
14 rue de la Mairie
44270 La Marne
Tel. : +33 (0)2 40 26 21 28
Fax : +33 (0)2 40 26 21 88


Machecoul, the historical capital of the Pays de Retz, will surprise you with its diversity of leisure activities and places to explore, as well as by its rich religious and historical heritage. Machecoul is rich in history : it was the stronghold of different lords of Retz, of various families, from the eleventh century. What is more, it was one of the major strongholds of Gilles de Retz, brother in arms of Jeanne d Arc, and Marshal of France. What history has retained above all are his crimes and debauchery. Machecoul was also the capital of the Duchy of Retz, governed by the Gondis, a family of Italian origin, who settled in France under the regency of Catherine de Medici in the seventeenth century. Moreover, Machecoul was one of the key sites of troupe deployments in the wars of Vendée during the French Revolution. The town is also rich in religious history since it is here that were built the chapel and the convent of Calvairiennes as well as the Church of St. Honoré with two steeples (almost a cathedral).
Storks, herons and kingfishers will keep you company while you give in to the pleasure of listening to the stories the town whispers on the banks of the Falleron and alongside the channels of Breton marshes.
Machecoul is the largest town in the community of municipalities with an area of 6600 hectares.
Its inhabitants are called Machecoulais and Machecoulaises.

Contact :
Mairie de Machecoul
5 Square de l’Auditoire
44270 Machecoul
Tel. : +33 (0)2 40 02 35 50
Fax : +33 (0)2 40 02 27 60


Paulx is a rural community which takes its name from the Latin palus : "marsh". The town was part of historical Brittany, in the traditional territory of the Pays de Retz, and in the historical region of the Pays Nantais. The parish of Paulx was part of Breton-Poitou border marches, with the status of a shared march, just as the parish of Machecoul was.
It is a rural town with 1,716 inhabitants covering an area of 3592 hectares.
Its inhabitants are called Palucéens and Palucéennes.

Contact :
Mairie de Paulx
Grande Rue
44270 Paulx
Tel. : +33 (0)2 40 26 02 18
Fax : +33 (0)2 40 26 03 38

St Etienne de Mer Morte

The different paths at Saint Etienne de Mer Morte lead the admiring stroller to visit the mill, to dally on the banks of the Falleron river, to visit a church made famous by the unexpected visit of Gilles de Rais in 1440, and to enjoy all the charms of a delightful, hillside town.
Proud of its friendly, rural character, the town is attractive. Versatile agriculture, the valley of the Falleron river and the hillside town mingle harmoniously.
It is a rural community covering an area of 2,733 hectares.
Its inhabitants are called Stéphanois and Stéphanoises.

Contact :
Mairie de Saint Etienne de Mer Morte
6 Rue de Nantes
44270 Saint Etienne de Mer Morte
Tel. : +33 (0)2 40 31 12 06
Fax : +33 (0)2 40 31 12 83

St Mars de Coutais

Saint Mars de Coutais is a great place for adventuring far from beaten tracks. On foot, on horseback, by mountain bike – you have lots of possibilities to explore the marshes where you can dream away, while watching the wildlife, admiring the beauty of local flora and following the steps of the sixth-century, pioneering monks.
The Lake of Grandlieu is omnipresent. It has shaped the landscape of the entire eastern part of the community, creating huge areas of marshland.
Gastronomy also plays a major role here, with a considerable number of wines, of the “Pays de Retz” denomination (Chardonnay, Muscadet, Sauvignon, Grolleau, Gamay, Cabernet, etc…) and especially the eels of Grandlieu that were sold as far away as Paris until the last century.
St Mars de Coutais is a rural community covering an area of 3467 hectares.
Its inhabitants are called Saint-Marins and Saint-Marines.

Contact :
Mairie de Saint Mars de Coutais
14 Rue St Médard
44680 Saint Mars de Coutais
Tel. : +33 (0)2 40 31 50 53
Fax : +33 (0)2 40 04 87 44

St Même le Tenu

Drift with the current and, as it carries you, explore nature. In ancient times there was a port called Portus Vetraria on the territory of the community that subsequently became St Même. The salt produced in the salt pans of the Bay of Bourgneuf and in the Breton marshes used to be transported by the Tenu river, linking the Gulf of Machecoul to La Loire. Saint Même le Tenu offers you great boat rides. During the trip, you will find yourself in the heart of our architectural heritage, as you discover the Brandais Castle (eighteenth century), the old port, the cross and the belvedere nestled in lush greenery on the river bank.
St Même le Tenu is a rural community covering an area of 1826 hectares.
Its inhabitants are called Tenumémois and Tenumémoises.

Contact :
Mairie de Saint Même le Tenu
Place de la Mairie
44680 Saint Même le Tenu
Tel. : +33 (0)2 40 78 51 25
Fax : +33 (0)2 40 02 35 87

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