Where to admire the region's finest panoramas

Le Thoureil (49) - A watchful eye over the Loire

The history of Le Thoureil – once the fiefdom of Dutch wine merchants and mariners – has been shaped by the Loire. This Petite Cité de Caractère (a French designation for small and especially characterful towns) serves the river well, too, with a choice of view points from up high over the wild river. Starting from the "Cale de Richebourg", take the eponymous lane and stand at the very end. You can also choose to fork right a little earlier and follow the flood channel, stopping near what remains of the old observation post called the Tour de Galles, or even the terrace of the Manoir des Hollandais.

La Loire à Vélo - Le Thoureil

Oudon (44) - On the roof of the keep

Built in the late 14th century, the keep at the medieval castle of Oudon is home to some amazing interiors. These recreations continue as the visitor climbs up the tower, telling the story of life on the banks of the Loire from the Middle Ages to today. At the top, the roof terrace unveils a splendid view over the river, its islets and the surrounding hillsides. There are some that say that on a clear day, you can even spot the famous Breton Tower in Nantes!

Les Herbiers (85) - The hill of mills

At 232 metres high and often described as the gateway to the Vendée, the Mont des Alouettes looks down on the surrounding countryside. The place was once home to up to eight mills, the first of which was built in the 16th century. There are only three left now, all of which are classed as historic monuments. One of them is still working, and can be visited in summer under the guidance of a miller. Nearby, the commemorative chapel is a reminder that the site was also the location of the War in the Vendée.

Le Mont des Alouettes - Les Herbiers

Champtoceaux (49) - Hanging gardens

On the rocky promontory tucked away behind the church of Champtoceaux, the Jardins du Champalud take the visitor up 70 metres high to offer a stunning panorama over the Loire. From this remarkable vantage point, you can also spot the famous "épis" or rocky dams built to trap the sand in the river, as well as the Île Neuve-Macrière and the keep of the medieval castle of Oudon. There's also a picnic, a playground for children and an open-air swimming pool here.

Les Alpes Mancelles (72 et 53) - The dizzying heights

Due to their unique geography, the Alpes Mancelles are reminiscent of mountain landscapes. The Mont Narbonne (217 metres high) and the Haut Fourché (203 m) act as natural viewpoints that dominate the rolling scenery, with the river Sarthe and the little village of Saint-Léonard-des-Bois tucked away in the valley. Near Mayenne, the Mont des Avaloirs (417 m) defends its title as the highest point in western France and features a 18-metre-high observation point. Visitors can look forward to an uninterrupted view of the Normandie-Maine regional nature park, the Alpes Mancelles and even Mont Saint-Michel on a very clear day!

Le belvédère du Mont des Avaloirs - Pré-en-Pail - Haute Mayenne - Les Alpes Mancelles côté Mayenne

Saint-Michel-Mont-Mercure (85) - A vertiginous bell tower

Not content with simply being the highest municipality in the Vendée, perched 290 metres high, Saint-Michel-Mont-Mercure allows the bravest of visitors to climb 42 metres higher up the 199 steps that lead to the bell tower of its church. Under the magnificent golden statue of Saint Michael, visitors can take in the meadows, shrub land and other hillsides in the Vendée countryside.

Saint-Michel - Mont Mercure

Hambers (53) - A sacred hillock

Unjustly unknown, the bucolic land of the Coëvrons also has a wonderfully undulating landscape which is home to the Montaigu, a 291-metre-high mound of earth. On a good day, visitors can use the viewpoint table to spot the seven surrounding bell towers or even the Pré-en-Pail hills! A 15th century chapel also stands here alongside an old hermitage, and was once a stop-off for pilgrims on the way to Mont-Saint-Michel.

Paysage mayennais depuis la butte Le Montaigu (290 m) - Pays d'art et d'histoire des Coëvrons
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You're bound to be wowed! The Atlantic Loire Valley region offers amazing vantage points throughout its five departments. From their location up high, they look out over countryside, cities or the Loire itself...

They are places that exude calm, high-up refuges sometimes discovered only by those in the know, which allow visitors to enjoy a new viewpoint from a height and really grasp the beauty of the local landscapes. Whether it's the hanging gardens at Champtoceaux, the vertiginous bell tower at Saint-Michel-Mont-Mercure, the viewpoints tucked away in the Alpes Mancelles or the amazing keep at Oudon, here's a little overview of these vantage points - in pictures, of course!