Riverside cafés, one of summer’s pleasures

Cabane du chat qui pêche

What could be nicer in the middle of the afternoon or at the end of a hot summer’s day than relaxing on a terrace by the water’s edge?

Luckily for you, Angers and the surrounding area has no end of riverside restaurants and cafés (guinguettes in French) where you can while away the long summer evenings. With venues on the banks of the Loire, the Maine, the Sarthe and the Mayenne rivers, there’s a choice like nowhere else.

If for you, summer is synonymous with spending evenings playing boules at the Héron Carré café beside the Maine, while sipping a well-chilled glass of Chenin and admiring the colours of the sun going down on the castle, then there is no mistaking, you’ve become a local! However, if you have still to discover these lovely little pleasures, here are few suggestions of where to stop and enjoy a tasty bite while exploring the region or spend an evening relaxing beneath the glow of coloured lanterns while sampling whitebait from the Loire.

La Cabane du Chat-qui-Pêche in Port-Thibault, and Le Kiviv are different styles of venue, but the spirit is the same with their friendly atmosphere, good food and music by the water. So hop on your bike, rent a little boat or jump in the car and hunt down those guinguettes!

Riverside cafés in and around Angers

As soon as spring arrives with its first sunny days, you can dust off your bike and head to the Héron Carré waterside café at the entrance to Balzac Park, leading to the Lac de Maine. Accessible in just a few minutes from the town centre, this is the ideal place to head for Friday night drinks or to laze in the sunshine on a Sunday afternoon, without having to leave town.

After ordering a drink at the wooden bar counter, you can settle on the grass overlooking the Maine or take a seat at one of the tables shaded from the sun by large shade sails. Between the stunning sunset and outdoor concerts, there’s the chance to have a good natter over a bottle of wine, like Loïc Mahé’s Gourmandise, and a charcuterie and cheese board. Some evenings, when a live salsa or swing group is playing, you might even unearth the dancer in you!

Terraces by the Loire

Following the river Maine downstream, you will leave Balzac park and the Lac de Maine behind you and soon come to Noé, in Bouchemaine. On the terrace facing the river Maine, you’ll find plenty of atmosphere, especially on concert nights. They also serve traditional Loire river cuisine like sautéed eel and pike-perch in beurre blanc sauce, accompanied by local wines. Another venue to try is La Croisette on the charming Béhuard island. With your sunglasses on, a cocktail to sip and a great meal to enjoy, you’ll be transfixed by the Loire and won’t ever want to leave.

A few kilometres from there, you also have the Port-Thibault guinguette in Sainte-Gemmes-sur-Loire. In spring and summer, the vast terrace of this restaurant with its breathtaking view of the Loire is a fabulous place to relax beneath the colourful festoon lights while chatting the night away to a backdrop of live music.

If you prefer to carry on further along the banks of the Loire towards Saumur, L’Embardée in La Daguenière is the ideal setting for you.

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Recommendations along the Sarthe, Mayenne and Louet rivers

When it comes to dream settings, the banks of Anjou’s other rivers all offer their fair share too. Along the Mayenne river, the Cabane du Chat-qui-Pêche in Cantenay-Épinard is a must, just a few kilometres from Angers. You’ll enjoy spending an afternoon there playing Mölkky, before heading back to its river-view terrace to sample an excellent burger while admiring the wonderful light at sunset.

A little further on, you have several options including La Rainette in Montreuil-Juigné and the Port Albert restaurant-guinguette in Feneu. The former hosts memorable concert evenings and the latter offers the traditional style cuisine of the region’s guinguettes.

Those who like the villages of the Basses Vallées Angevines and their pretty and untouched natural surroundings, can continue their ‘guinguette tour’ to Villevêque (Rives-du-Loir-en-Anjou), on the banks of the Loir. On Sundays, after a dip in the river, you can head back up to the terrace at around 6 p.m. to enjoy the café’s traditional end-of-weekend concert while sipping a drink in the sun. If you’re already familiar with Villevêque, try stopping at Le Kiviv in Briollay for a change. This time, you’ll have a view of the river Sarthe as you dine on the terrace or in Le Kiviv’s attractive dining room with its large picture windows. This multi-purpose venue featuring café, restaurant, shop and concert/workshop space has a friendly atmosphere that is worth the detour.

Alcohol abuse is dangerous for your health. To be consumed in moderation. 

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