Departmental capital: Nantes
Main cities/towns: Saint-Nazaire, Châteaubriant, La Baule-Escoublac
Loire-Atlantique is one of France’s richer departments, usually coming 15th in terms of wealth measured by GDP.
Nantes, its prefecture, is an old port city with direct access to the sea via the Loire.
Formerly the stronghold of the dukes of Brittany and later one of the French cities that grew rich on the slave trade, it is now at the centre of a métropole of nearly 600,000 people.
It boasts TGV links to Paris and good autoroute connections, while Nantes airport has flights to hot, exotic locations – and Birmingham, Edinburgh and London with EasyJet.
Downriver at Saint-Nazaire, the great Atlantic shipyards now create enormous cruise ships.
Just inland, Airbus has a huge factory making the fuselages of some of the company’s best selling passenger jets.
Over half the population of Loire-Atlantique live around either Nantes or Saint Nazaire, and another 10% are in the seaside resorts, of which La Baule is probably the most fashionable and best known. Inland, the department is rural.
Property prices are generally high, especially in Nantes and along the coast.
An architect-designed, five-bedroom house in the commune of Orvault, to the north of Nantes, was on the market for €1.1million, for example.
A small, three-bedroom town house in the same commune was going for €618,000.
As is often the case in France, out in the countryside things are different and it is possible to find small stone-and-slate farmworkers’ cottages with some land for less than €50,000.
One property, with a surface area of 37m² and just over 1,000m² of land in the commune of Lusanger, was on the market for €45,000.