town and seaport, Loire-Atlantique departement, Pays de la Loire region, western France. It lies on the right bank of the Loire River estuary, 38 miles (61 km) west-northwest of Nantes. Saint-Nazaire is thought to be the site of the ancient Gallo-Roman seaport of Corbilo. It was little more than a fishing village until the mid-19th century, when the port was built to accommodate vessels too large to sail up the Loire to Nantes. Saint-Nazaire's shipbuilding yards became among the largest in Europe, constructing warships, tankers, and the ocean liners Normandie and France. During World War II the town was occupied by the Germans, who used the port as a major Atlantic submarine base. In 1942 the docks were blown up by the British and were not restored to service until 1946. The town was almost completely destroyed in the war and was rebuilt according to a plan that separates the residential districts from the industrial centre. Saint-Nazaire is the outport for Nantes, and its shipbuilding yard is still active. Other industries include chemical plants and aircraft works. Pop. (1990) 66,087; (1999) 65,868.
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