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Why do they love Saint-Nazaire Creators, entrepreneurs, artists, original Nazairians or newcomers, find out why they love Saint-Nazaire and why the city inspires them and gives them wings.

Claire Batardière
“The best of all possible towns; ideal for starting innovative projects”

Claire Batardière, fashion accessories

Established at the innovative, creative cultural centre Le Garage, Claire Batardière is the creator of FFIL. This fashion accessory label, famous for its high quality and unique concept (self-assembly handbags!), is firmly based on local expertise.

“For a long time, Saint-Nazaire might have been seen as rather a sleepy town. After many years, it seems to have rediscovered its full potential and its delight in being beside the sea. I meet many young couples who have just moved here, like us six years ago, when we were looking for a seaside town after living on a boat for a time. I really love the wild coast. You can find magical places there – creeks where the view every morning will change your life! But Saint-Nazaire is also a state of mind – values I share, like helping one another and solidarity. In a way, it’s the best of all possible towns, ideal for starting innovative projects like Le Garage: a place where young businesses can share and network.”

Sébastien Taraud
“A land of doers rather than talkers”

Sébastien Taraud, freelance digital project and social media manager

Sébastien Taraud is a freelance digital project and social media manager. He supports businesses in the area to develop their digital communication and has set up the “Web Apéros” – networking meetings for digital professionals.

“I can vouch for the fact that there is a lot of exceptional knowledge around in Saint-Nazaire. Of course, we think about ships and aviation, but it’s not only that. In terms of digital technology, strong skills have been developed over the last three or four years. They allow businesses to invent new services and ranges, both locally and internationally. In a way, Saint-Nazaire is a land of doers rather than talkers: some really beautiful things are being done here, particularly in terms of digital innovation, but they don’t really shout about it. Although that doesn’t stop things being done, quite the reverse. There’s a fashionable term: “makers”. These are people who throw themselves into projects without being sure they’re going to be profitable straightaway, but they test them and experiment a little in start-up mode. That’s exactly what’s happening in Saint-Nazaire at the moment, with perhaps less glitter than in other towns.”

Jean-Luc Longeroche
“Saint-Nazaire’s great strength is its industrial fabric”

Jean-Luc Longeroche, Geps Techno

Six years ago, the STX engineer Jean-Luc Longeroche set up Geps Techno, an innovative business based on human activity at sea. The constantly growing company had a total turnover of more than a million euros a year in 2017.

“For a company like ours, Saint-Nazaire’s great strength is its industrial fabric It’s very easy to make new contacts, generate business with partners and find the skills you need here, in terms of activities linked to the sea. To some extent, if you’ll pardon the expression, we are all in the same boat. A network of excellence, like Neopolia, for example, means we can generate a common dynamic to carry out activities and make progress very quickly. Saint-Nazaire is also a town where you can have a good life. The sports clubs (athletic, handball, etc.), for example, are a very high standard, and being near the beach is perfect. But, at the same time, we’re a long way from being at the end of the earth! With the high-speed train, Nantes and Paris are very easily accessible...”

Laetitia Cordier
“Saint-Nazaire invites imagination, transformation and creativity”

Laetitia Cordier, graphic and theatre designer

The graphic and theatre designer Laetitia Cordier has set up the multi-use site Les Abeilles, which she has coordinated since 2017. Here, the letting of space for tourists and Saint-Nazaire residents provides finance for artists in residence and a future meeting place and centre for experimentation open to residents, encouraging mixed audiences.

“I settled in Saint-Nazaire six years ago. I’ll never forget the first time I arrived by train in the middle of the night coming through the industrial world of Donges. I was fascinated by what looked like an entirely fictional set, as if it was something out of a comic or SF film. Saint-Nazaire has a rather dirty side that can be seen by some as a black mark, but I think it’s a real quality. The town is like a stone just waiting to be cut; to take shape. This is a considerable attraction for an artist. Saint-Nazaire invites imagination, transformation and creation. I see lots of energy here; a desire to do things taking shape after many years. Les Abeilles is a good example and the cherry on the cake is a direct view of the ocean connecting you to the environment and feeding your creativity.”

Stéphane Darcel
“Capacity for openness in the town’s DNA”

Stéphane Darcel, Move and Rent

Stéphane Darcel runs Move and Rent. With this new furniture rental service, including delivery and removal, aimed at mobile workers and students, he won an Audacity Award for innovation in 2012.

“In Saint-Nazaire there is capacity for openness in the town’s DNA which I think is closely linked to the port. A port is open. You look out there and on the other side is New York! It’s an urge to set off, to move, to find solutions more easily than when you’re inland. In a subtle way, it opens up your imagination. That’s super-important when you’re in an innovative job. You see it in business. Here, people open up their networks, they don’t keep them all to themselves. It must be linked to the town’s industrial history – to the ships and planes – because they’ve always had to find solutions and invent in those industries. And to innovate you can’t stay in your little corner. You need to talk, give and receive in return. In real terms, that gives you a town where it’s very easy to get good people on the phone straightaway, without class or hierarchy or filters...”

“A real mixture, and definitely less self-obsessed than in other towns”

Pascale Weille et Fanny Leroy, the recycling centre Au Bonheur des Bennes

In September 2016, Pascal Weille opened the recycling centre Au Bonheur des Bennes. In this shop, full of creativity and solidarity and run by eight employees, backed by volunteers, objects initially intended for the rubbish tip find a second life.

“It’s may be professional bias, because in recycling we welcome all kinds of people, but in Saint-Nazaire I see quite a rare kind of openness. There’s interaction with people from all cultural and social backgrounds. A real mixture, and definitely less self-obsessed than in other towns. This kind of context is ideal for innovation. You feel a desire shared by both residents and entrepreneurs... I have never seen so many projects around me! Whether these projects are large or small, there is an organisation – a dynamic – that makes them possible, beyond the giants Airbus and STX. Au Bonheur des Bennes is proof of this, like Le Garage, Les Abeilles or the many bistros and original shops that are opening up. I feel a real renewal has been going on for quite a few years.”

Olivier de Sagazan
“A town on a human scale with its beaches, and Paris just two-and-a-half hours away”

Olivier de Sagazan, painter, sculptor and performer

Olivier de Sagazan, an internationally-known painter, sculptor and performer, has lived in Saint-Nazaire for about 20 years. Here he also makes his sensitive works, based on representations of the body.

“Saint-Nazaire is a town on a human scale where I feel good. I have the good fortune to have a big studio, where I can work on my installations and sculptures. Here, everything is accessible very quickly: cultural activities, transport and the beach. In two-and-a-half hours, I can be in Paris and in one hour at Nantes airport to set off for anywhere in the world. The town’s other big asset is clearly its maritime dimension: its harbour, of course, with its fascinating boats where I like to walk, but also its beach, or rather beaches. There is a series of fantastic creeks towards Saint-Marc, where vegetation and sand mix. They’re not too well known, but they’re amazing for anyone who ventures there on foot...”

Clémence Priou
“The great potential of Saint-Nazaire is its people!”

Clémence Priou, lifestyle chronicler

Restaurants, shops, walks... no good plan escapes the lifestyle chronicler Clémence Priou in her blog La Nazairienne, also developed in a clothing brand that has become famous in the media.

“After living in Paris and London for a dozen years I chose to settle here. I liked the image of Saint-Nazaire because it isn’t too smooth. It’s a town where you can feel good because it doesn’t give you a complex. It still has plenty of rough edges. It has kept its super-authentic industrial side and hasn’t been too tempted by the sirens of change from the seaside resort. At the same time, it has done a good reconstruction job. Everything that’s been done beside the seafront is also a masterstroke! There are still things that need inventing... What I see in Saint-Nazaire is potential. I’m sure that when the Petit Maroc neighbourhood has been renovated it’s going to take off. It’s quite a young town. It’s full of breeding grounds for creativity or artistic talent: people making an effort to put things in place. “For me, the great potential of Saint-Nazaire is its people!”

Philippe Hui, artistic director and orchestra leader

“You feel as if you’re at the heart of something modern, technological and social”

A Saint-Nazaire resident for 10 years, Philippe Hui is an artistic director and orchestra leader. In particular, he has set up the Philharmonie des Deux Mondes, an unusual orchestra with the ambition to make all the great works of the classical repertoire accessible.

“Seen from the outside, people often get a wrong impression of Saint-Nazaire, a town constrained by a past linked to reconstruction. But living there I feel at the heart of something modern, linked to the Chantiers de l’Atlantique and Airbus, which are world leaders with their cutting-edge technologies, but also associated with the town’s very dynamic social dimension and associations. It is easy to create projects here. The associations are very active and on the look-out for original projects, such as getting an orchestra to play outside properties in the neighbourhoods. I also love the town, of course, for its sea front. Every time I come back from concerts in Paris or elsewhere I am captivated by the view of the estuary really near my home, magnified by the sunlight at the end of the day.”

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Copyrights : Ville de Saint-Nazaire : Christian Robert, Martin Launay, Hélène Defoy, Blandine Bouillon, Nicolas Dumez, Bruno Bouvry Imagine Air | Saint-Nazaire agglomération tourisme

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