GR®8 : some of the best views you'll ever see !

GR®8 : some of the best views you'll ever see !

  • Roche Percée Préfailles - © Stéphane  GROSSIN


Looking for a spectacular show and a breath of fresh air? Then this article is for you! The GR®8, between Saint-Michel-Chef-Chef and Les Moutiers-en-Retz, promises an unforgettable hike 

On this legendary trail, prepare to be amazed by a succession of breathtaking landscapes, where nature reveals its finest assets. Put on your boots and set off along the GR®8 to discover some of the most beautiful views not to be missed 


What is the GR®8 ?

This legendary trail, which runs along the Atlantic coast from Saint-Brévin-les-Pins to Sare in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques, offers hikers a total maritime experience along 635 km of waymarked paths.

In Destination Pornic, the GR®8 follows the same route as the old customs path over 44.9 km. From wild, ochre-coloured cliffs to secret coves nestling in the rocks, via picturesque villages with orange-red brickwork and tiles, this walk offers a diversity of landscapes that will delight all walkers.
Whether you're an experienced walker or a family outing enthusiast, you're bound to find something to suit you on this trail!

 A little history :
The customs path was once used to prevent smuggling. Patrols were ordered to criss-cross the coastal path day and night. From well-concealed positions, the customs officers would observe places where illegal landings were likely to take place.
Under the Ancien Régime, the gabelous collected the salt tax known as "la gabelle".
  • La Bernerie-en-Retz GR8 - © Mélanie Chaigneau

Terres Rouges : a natural jewel on the GR®8

Set off to discover Les Terres Rouges, an exceptional natural site located on the GR®8 and more specifically at Saint-Michel-Chef-Chef. Glowing cliffs and rich, protected flora: the perfect combination for an unforgettable hike.

A breathtaking spectacle

This protected area lives up to its name. As soon as you arrive on the Terres Rouges, you'll be amazed by the colour of the cliffs, due to the minerals in the rocks. The striking contrast between the brick-coloured cliffs and the turquoise ocean creates a breathtaking landscape.

Unparalleled biodiversity

The Terres Rouges are home to a wealth of flora and fauna, preserved thanks to their protected status. You'll be able to spot rare species such as the dune carnation, sea panicault, blue tit, black-headed gull and green lizard.

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  • terres rouges saint michel chef chef - © Hugo Mouillé

La pêcherie bleue : the most photographed spot on the GR®8

Located on the Grande plage de Tharon, lovers of sunsets and "breathtaking" moments can admire the end of the day near the pêcherie bleue.
This is undoubtedly one of the most emblematic spots on the GR®8. Its azure blue colour and unique silhouette make it a very popular photo subject, particularly on the social network Instagram.

Whether the sun is shining or the rain is falling, the blue fishery is sure to charm you. Its peaceful setting makes it an ideal place to relax and enjoy the beauty of the Côte de Jade. Why not stop off at its foot for a picnic, tide permitting?

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  • blue fishery Saint-Michel-Chef-Chef - © Stéphane  GROSSIN

The Pointe de la Pierre : an intimate cove in La Plaine 

Nestling in the pretty town of La Plaine-sur-Mer, the Pointe de la Pierre is a wild and unspoilt little corner of paradise that will charm you with its authentic beauty. 

A getaway in the heart of nature

Accessible only to hikers and walkers on the GR®8, the Pointe de la Pierre reveals its treasures to curious explorers. Imagine a small cove of fine sand between two rocky spurs, where an old wooden fishery stands proudly, a silent witness to the maritime life of the region. A white stone bench invites contemplation, offering hikers a well-deserved break and a breathtaking panorama of the Loire estuary.

A haven for flora and fauna

Let yourself be lulled by the song of the waves and the lapping of the water against the rocks. Breathe in the fresh sea air and enjoy the breathtaking sight of seabirds circling above the waves. The Pointe de la Pierre provides a haven for a multitude of plant and animal species.

 La Plaine-sur-Mer
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  • coastal path La Plaine-sur-Mer - © Mélanie Chaigneau

La Roche Percée : the only elephant visible on the GR®8

On the coast of Préfailles stands a colossus of stone: the Roche Percée. This natural curiosity, sculpted by waves and wind over thousands of years, attracts the admiring gazes of the lucky few.

A magical sight at low tide and high tide

When the sea recedes, giving way to fine sand, you can approach the Roche Percée and admire its singular silhouette.
Imagine a giant elephant that has fallen asleep on the beach, its trunk plunging into the clear water. The rock, pierced by a gaping hole, offers a unique passageway to the ocean, a natural tunnel that children love to explore.
When the waves return to invade the beach, the Roche Percée stands proudly in the face of the powerful waves. Admire the force of the ocean as it crashes against the rock, creating a breathtaking spectacle.

 Did you know ?
Since the mid-19th century, La Roche Percée has been a source of inspiration for painters such as Jean-Charles Millet, Paul de Plument de Bailhac and Charles Lemaresquier... You can find them in the book "Les Couleurs de Préfailles" by Jean-Loup MASSIGNON, on sale at the Préfailles Tourist Office.

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  • La Roche Percée Préfailles - © Elise Fournier

Plage des Sablons : our nugget cove on the GR®8

Just imagine walking along the GR®8, when suddenly a small cove with orange-coloured sand appears in the hollow of a majestic cliff. This is Plage des Sablons, a little corner of paradise nestling on the rocky coast of Sainte-Marie-sur-Mer.

A corner of Eden just a stone's throw from the town

Far from the hustle and bustle of the big beaches, Plage des Sablons is the ideal place to relax and enjoy a well-earned swim after a hike. 

A breathtaking panorama

From Plage des Sablons, admire the breathtaking views over the Baie de Bourgneuf and the island of Noirmoutier. The landscapes change with the tides and the sunlight, making for a breathtaking spectacle. 

 Good to know : 
When the sun is out, this is a very popular spot from April to September, for aperitifs at lunchtime and in the evening, and at lunchtime because of the beach hut offering a lovely menu of food and drink!

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  • Plage des Sablons Pornic - © Stéphane  GROSSIN

Pointe de Gourmalon : the Pornic spot not to be missed on the GR®8 !

Before reaching the magnificent corniche de Gourmalon, the walk takes you to the foot of Pornic castle via its wooden footbridge. You'll walk alongside the old port, then cross the water over the Pont du 8 mai to change quays. After passing the magnificent and emblematic 1900 carousel, you now face the château and enter the lower part of the Gourmalon district.

The Pointe de Gourmalon offers exceptional views over the Baie de Bourgneuf and the island of Noirmoutier, just 12 km away as the crow flies. 
The ocean stretches as far as the eye can see, offering a palette of blues and greens that change with the tides and sunlight.
The GR®8, which runs along the Pointe de Gourmalon, reveals a succession of spectacular landscapes: rocky cliffs sculpted by the waves, seaside villas decorated with lambrequins, the Gourmalon chapel, wild coves with golden sand, and lush vegetation lining your path.

 Our favourite :
From the rock, we love the view of the old port and its castle, and the upper town overlooked by its church... A spot not to be missed!

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  • castle pornic - © Stéphane  GROSSIN

La Boutinardière beach : rocks, fisheries and fish locks

Between Pornic and La Bernerie-en-Retz, La Boutinardière beach is a wide stretch of fine sand bordered by rocks and countless traditional fisheries on the Côte de Jade. 

An idyllic panorama

A walk along the beach offers a breathtaking view. The golden cliffs stand proud against the immense blue sky: wow! One of them is pierced by a gaping hole nicknamed the "hell hole", which lets out a terrifying roar when the wind rushes in.

The secrets of the foreshore

What do these inverted V-shaped or semi-circular stones reveal at low tide? They are ancient fish locks, vestiges of an ancestral fishing technique dating back to the Middle Ages. These stone traps, built along the shoreline, allowed fishermen to catch their prey using nets positioned at their ends. The falling tide sealed the fate of the fish! 
Heritage conservation associations are now working to preserve and maintain them. You can find out how they work on a visit with Pornic Tourist Office (tour in french).

 Between Pornic and La Bernerie-en-Retz
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  • Plage de la Boutinardière Pornic - © Stéphane  GROSSIN
  • Plage de la Boutinardière Pornic - © Stéphane  GROSSIN

La Rinais beach : far from the hustle and bustle of the town

La Bernerie-en-Retz also hides many wonders... like the Rinais beach! It's an ideal place to relax and enjoy the beauty of the coast. 
If you're a keen sportsman or hiker, you'll love the direct access from the GR®8. A steep path awaits you for an invigorating climb, rewarded by spectacular panoramic views. If you prefer an easier option, more accessible access is available from the Boutinardière beach (at low tide).
Geology buffs will be fascinated by the colourful rocks of La Rinais, sculpted by springs of ferruginous water. A tap, a vestige of a bygone era, bears witness to the history of this place, where curists once came to be cured.

 Don't miss :
The Tour Voruz, a hexagonal tower offering an exceptional panoramic view of the coast, once owned by a wealthy shipowner from Nantes: Monsieur Voruz. The remains of his personal port can still be seen near the beach.

 La Bernerie-en-Retz
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  • Tour Voruz La Bernerie-en-Retz - © Mélanie Chaigneau

Lancastria beach: between sea and marsh

We continue our walk along the GR®8 to Lancastria beach in Les Moutiers-en-Retz. In the heart of a protected natural area, this beach offers an idyllic setting for lovers of wild nature. The fine sand of this beach stretches as far as the eye can see, for 4 km, bordered by the Collet dune, rocks and fisheries in succession, sculpting the coastal landscape and inviting you to daydream. Here, nature reigns supreme. A unique section of the GR®8 between the Marais de Lyarne and the Baie de Bourgneuf...

For keen swimmers, check the tide tables and wait for high tide: low tide reveals a magnificent lunar landscape, where the "blue mud" stretches to the horizon. Used for body treatments in thalassotherapy in particular, this local clay resource has curative virtues already known to our ancestors.

 Our advice :
Sometimes you have to be patient before discovering new wahou spots. Keep walking south to discover fisheries like no other... our pretty Siamese fisheries await you.

 Les Moutiers-en-Retz
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  • Plage du Lancastria Les Moutiers-en-Retz - ©

Port du Collet : pure charm

Perched on the shores of the Baie de Bourgneuf in the heart of the Marais Breton Vendéen, the Port du Collet, nicknamed "the little Chinese port", is our latest must-do spot on the GR®8. 

A breathtaking panorama

Climb onto the footbridge at the port and marvel at the breathtaking panorama before you. On one side, the Baie de Bourgneuf stretches as far as the eye can see, revealing its blue hues and the island of Noirmoutier looming on the horizon. On the other, the Marais Breton Vendéen unfolds in all its splendour, providing a haven for many species of bird. Observe their aerial ballets and let yourself be lulled by the song of nature.

Authentic charm

A lively fishing and yachting port, Le Collet has an authentic atmosphere. The wooden pontoons, some of them two-storey, and the colourful fishermen's huts lining the quayside give it an undeniable charm. Take a stroll along the path, admire the gently rocking boats and soak up the special atmosphere.

 Les Moutiers-en-Retz
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  • Collet harbour Les Moutiers-en-Retz - © Damien DUFOUR

To know

Planning to hike along the GR®8 in Destination Pornic ?

Get hold of an essential guide for a detailed walk : the Rando Fiche du GR®8 - de Saint-Brévin-les-Pins aux Moutiers-en-Retz (in french).
On sale at our 7 Tourist Offices for €2.50.

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