The best spots for watching the 14 July fireworks!
In the main cities of Atlantic Loire Valley, these special viewpoints will allow you to watch the best of the 14 July fireworks, often away from the crowds. But shhh, don't tell anyone...
In Angers, the fireworks are set off on the banks of the Maine! The stone bleachers of the quai Tabarly, which allow you to be front and centre, are of course crowded. It's easier to find space in the neighbouring parc Balzac, where the terrace of the bucolic Le Héron Carré open-air café will quench the thirst of those smart enough to turn up early. Further back, the plateau de Grésillé, near the Lac de Maine, will let you avoid the crowds. As for Cholet, the outskirts of the place du 8 mai 1945, where the fireworks are let off, are in high demand, but you can find refuge in the adjacent parc de Moine, at the La Pergola open-air café, for example. You can also watch the show from the heights of the square in front of Saint-Pierre church or the northern ring road further back. In Saumur, the festivities take place on the île Millocheau: the tip here is to distance yourself a bit by standing near the château viewpoint or on the quai Mayaud. These two sites also offer a view over the whole event.
In Laval many spectators crowd along the Mayenne, from where an impressive flood of light springs forth. For a calmer spot, we'd recommend climbing to the top of the stairs that run down from the Jardin de la Perrine to the old town. In Mayenne, the fireworks are also set off from the famous river, with the audience standing at the quai de la République (commonly known as La Cale) or the pont Notre-Dame. You can also partially see the show from the old town, but there aren't exactly tonnes of viewpoints. As for Château-Gontier, there won't really be a problem with crowds as the event takes place in the verdant parc de l'Oisillière, whose vast grounds mean you won't be elbow-to-elbow. There's no need to find a promontory here either, as the site only has gentle slopes anyway.
Set off from the Île aux Planches, the fireworks in Le Mans attracts a crowd around the boulevard Demorieux, as well as the pont de Fer and pont des Tabacs which frame the site. Overlooking things slightly, the boulevard Lamartine offers good visibility despite the leafiness. You can also distance yourself from the crowds by opting for the districts tucked away up high, such as l'Université or Ardriers. In La Flèche, the festivities take place at the Lac de la Monnerie, where visitors gather at the beach and the surrounding green spaces. As the site is located at the bottom of a kind of basin, you can find a few places that overlook the proceedings. In Sablé-sur-Sarthe, it's hard to find a better base camp than the quai National and the pont de la Grand-rue to watch the rockets shoot up from the foot of the château. We do have a little tip for making the show even more special: take part in the dinner on the water held in the evening by the Croisières Saboliennes. You'll have the best spot of all!
The advantages of the parc urban des Oudairies, chosen by La Roche-sur-Yon for its pyrotechnics display, is that it has enough space for the thousands of visitors. It's a tranquil place away from the town centre, with lawns and prairies interspersed by woodland and little hillocks, which especially clever visitors will perch on to watch the show. There's an altogether saltier breeze at Sables-d'Olonne, which sets off its rockets from the little jetty at the end of the Remblai. Although this and the larger jetty are highly coveted, the prieuré Saint-Nicolas is also a choice viewpoint, located on a height. The quartier des Présidents district allows you to escape the busy town centre and still enjoy the show. The town of Herbiers has set its sights on l'Etenduère, a vast space with sports pitches that lets you really get comfortable. You could always try to climb the Mont de Alouettes, but the visibility won't exactly be perfect!
There's plenty of choice in Nantes at the Quai de la Fosse and the Parc des Chantiers. The festive explosions happen just above the Loire, with fireworks set off from the Île Beaulieu. You can find a higher viewpoint on the butte Saint-Anne, but there's likely to be quite a crowd there too. The best place to watch might well belong to the Nid, the bar perched 144 metres high at the top of the Tour Bretagne. Its locating affords a breathtaking view of the show. In Saint-Nazaire, rockets are fired from the jetty, allowing visitors to watch the bursts of colour from the entire seafront. With the almost 3 kilometre-long boulevards Wilson and Albert 1er, you're unlikely to be stepping on anyone's toes! In La Baule, the show also takes place in front of the ocean. The ideal – and quieter – choice is to slip away to Pornichet or Pouliguen. In the latter town, the musée Bernard Boesch or the Cercle Nautique have little coastal paths from which viewers can enjoy a panoramic view of the entire bay. It's also worth noting that Terre et Mer Croisières organises a boat trip that offers another viewpoint for the event.