Western Loire is blessed with many wonderful golf courses, and the area immediately around La Baule can claim some of the very best: the two 18 hole 72 par Golf de la Baule courses are set around the Briere Regional Naturall Park and offer excellent facilities for golfers of all standards, whilst the famous 18 hole 72 par Golf de la Bretesche at Missillac features tree lined fairways, a large lake, and a highly impressive château that overlooks the ninth green.
The 18 hole par 72 course at Pornic has plenty of variety - the first 5 holes are set in hilly and wooded landscape and the remainder are more like a links course.
The 18 hole par 73 course at Savenay between Nantes and St Nazaire is spectacularly beautiful. All 4 clubs mentioned hire clubs, trolleys and buggies and have pro shops, putting greens and restaurants on-site.
Learn sailing, windsurfing, sea kayaking and rowing at the Club Nautique de Pornic, tel: (00 33) 2 40 82 34 72 and there are beginners sailing courses at APCC in Pornichet, tel: (00 33) 2 40 15 48 32. Club Nautique des Moutiers, based at Les Moutiers-en-Retz, offers a range of activities from windsurfing to beginners and experienced sailing.
The club at Prefailles also has surfing, tel: (00 33) 2 40 64 35 91. If you fancy diving, La Turballe has a diving club, tel: (00 33) 6 75 92 22 34. The wooded banks of the River Erdre also have sailing and rowing schools.
There are several centres along the coast for surfing and body boarding. Gliss Evolution at La Baule-Escoublac also offers paragliding and microlighting. Open all year, there are leisure courses from ‘baptism’ to improvers. English is spoken and groups are welcome. www.glissevolution.com
The attractive little fishing port and sailing resort of Le Pouligen has 9km of purpose-built roller-skating pathways along its seafront.
A great family resort for swimming and watersports across the Loire Estuary from St Nazaire, St Brevin has a kite flying festival in August. Conditions for kite flying along with kite surfing, land yachting and speed sailing are ideal on the vast stretches of hard sand.
The dunes make great trails for dune buggies and where the forest comes down to the beach at La Rousselleries is the ideal place for relaxing under the shade of oaks and mimosas.
The 42,500 hectares of the Gavre Forest has 4,400 hectares of oaks, beech and pine with riding, walking and cycling trails. L’Etang de Clegreuc on the edge of the forest is a well-known bird sanctuary.
The Nantes-Brest Canal weaves from Nantes south of Finistere to Brest at the mouth of the Loire. The Canal was built in the nineteenth century after an English blockade of Brest persuaded Napoleon that a link between his 2 largest Atlantic military ports, other than by sea, was necessary.
In Loire Atlantique, the canal is linked to the River Loire (where it flows into the Atlantic Ocean at Nantes) by the River Erdre. The canal towpath across the flat marshlands of Loire Atlantique makes easy long distance walking with plenty of interesting flora, and fauna from coypu to kingfishers along the river banks.
Take a trip from Suce-sur-Erdre or hire a houseboat to explore the waterway. Guenroet has pedalo hire along with swimming pool and restaurants. Fishing from the scenic towpath is easy and local tourist offices will have information on types of fish and licenses needed.
The River Erdre completes its journey in Nantes and is great for sailing, rowing and kayaking. Admire the beautiful scenery and the nineteenth century chateaux and follies along the river banks. For kayak hire, contact the local centre at Suce-sur-Erdre, tel (00 33) 6 15 67 18 62
Walk or cycle along the River Loire from Nantes to Saint Nazaire to see permanent installations by international artists from around the world like the water nymph which is only visible at night and other incredible sculptures and mobile architecture. Pick up a leaflet at the visitor centre at Station Prouve on blvd de la Prairie, Isle of Nantes (open Friday to Sunday, 2 – 6pm) where you can also see short films on the exhibitions. The festival, begun in 2007, is due to hold its final phase with new works in 2012 when boat trips along the route will be available. See www.estuaire.info