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Travel on a submarine

Submarine Espadon

You're in for quite a voyage! Discover what life was like aboard the submarine Espadon, where 65 crew members had to share cramped space
and a single shower…

Please note

The “Swordfish” welcomes you

Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea… do you remember? Maybe the Nautilus, the submarine in French writer Jules Verne’s famous novel, was one of your childhood favourites. In Saint-Nazaire you can visit a very real submarine. During her military career, the Espadon (“Swordfish”) sailed on – or rather under – the seven seas.

Ever since the vessel has been demilitarized and given to the City of Saint-Nazaire, it has been moored inside the fortified lock of the harbour of Saint-Nazaire. You will visit it from one end to the other, along the central gangway, which is quite narrow at places, and discover an exceptional maritime heritage.

Visite du Sous-marion Espadon avec les enfants à Saint-Nazaire

Hot bunks and “golden ears”

Your audioguide, available in English (as well as French, German and Spanish), is a very lively source of information about the life of the submariners. You will learn about the famous “hot bunking” system, the noise and stifling heat of the engine room, the incredible work of the “golden ears” who were capable of identifiying hundreds of sounds above and under the surface of the ocean…

The ideal visit if you want to

  • Imagine that you are going on a submarine expedition far North, beyond the Polar Circle, for several weeks
  • Find out how 65 crew members could live together in such cramped conditions
  • Hear the cackling sound of a colony of shrimps sounds under water, or the explosion of an iceberg breaking in two…


The submarine has obtained the
national quality award Qualité Tourisme.
Une visite pour les petits et grands enfants à Saint-Nazaire
visite du sous-marin Espadon en famille

17 times the circumference of the earth!

This 78-m long submarine was built in Le Havre and launched in 1958 before taking up service in 1960. The Espadon was able to dive for up to 5 or 6 days. Its electric engines (we’re talking about a time well before nuclear submarines) insured maximum speed of 16 knots on the surface and 18 knots under water.

During her 25 year long career, the Espadon spent 2,561 days on sea and 33,796 hours diving; it covered 360,547 nautical miles, i.e. the equivalent of 17 times the circumference of the earth! Its home port was Lorient in Brittany. The Espadon was active during the cold war but had never been engaged in military action. At the end of the tour you’ll see the impressive torpedo tubes: they were used regularly, but only for exercise.

How to get there?

Saint-Nazaire, Avenue de la Forme-Ecluse (on the other side of the harbour basin as compared to the submarine base). Free parking space outside.

Public transport. – The nearest bus stops are: rue de la Paix + 15 minutes walk, Hélyce line (every day) ; Ruban Bleu + 12 minutes walk, U2 line (from Monday to Saturday).



2019 Opening times

Last admission half an hour before the advertised closing time.


How much?

2019 prices
Full Reduced* Children age 4-17
10 € 8 € 5 €
* Reduced price (ID required): students, unemployed, disabled persons and accompanying person.



Audioguided tour, approx. 30 minutes.

The audioguides are available in 4 languages: French, English, German and Spanish.

Please note that during the summer season, it is advisable to visit in the morning in order to avoid queuing.

See conditions for groups.



The submarine Espadon is unfortunately not accessible to disabled visitors.