Nantes Atlantique Aéroport Spotting Guide

Nantes Atlantique Aéroport is the biggest airport in North-Western part of France with nearly 3 Mio passengers in 2013. The regional carrier Regional CAE is based here, although it merged with other Air France subsidiaries (Britair and Airlinair) to create the Hop! company in 2013. So lots of movements are Hop! airplanes for national flights, specially during week days, with some Air France flight to Paris-CDG and Marseille. Nantes is also a base for Volotea 717s, with 4 or 5 airplanes based. With the proximity of Airbus factory, the platform is also visited by Airbus Belugas on a nearly weekly basis, and sometimes (more rarely) by An-124 for larger parts.
The week-end provides some additionals flights , specially to and from the Mediterranean area: Royal Air Maroc, Tunisair, Nouvelair, Aegean, SunExpress, Transavia France, Aegean, Air Mediterranée, Europe AirPost and sometimes good surprises with charters. Heavies are rare, the only ones are Air Transat A310/A330 from May to October and usually XL 330 for Dominican Republic in winter.

Written by Gaël Roux (regular visitor)

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Airline Variety
Photo Locations
Weather
Airport Information    Runways 03/21
2.900m
Terminals Terminal 1,2,3 Terminal 4
Air France, Ryanair, Easyjet, Transavia, Europe Airporst, all other carriers HOP!
Spotting Information Ladder Necessary
Car Preferable
Restrooms At the Terminal
Drinks/Food At the Terminal
Hotels B&B Nantes Aeroport, Hotel Oceania
Season The best seasons are spring and winter, when people are seeking for the sun, summer is more calm, with a majority of regular flights.
Runway Usage 03/21 Used in all directions

Spot #1 – Railway Bridge – RWY21 Arrivals & Line Up
WHERE Located on a road passing over a railway, just at the threshold of RWY21. To get there, when you are on the road leading from the Peripheral Road to the terminal, take the road on your right, facing Airbus Factory. You get there after 300-400m. Park your car on the left, and walk on to the bridge. No ladder needed.
WHAT When RWY21 is on use, planes pass over you seconds before touching ground and lining up in front of you when leaving.
TIME Early  in the morning for departing planes and until mid- afternoon for incoming planes.
MISCELLANEOUS Watch out for the passing cars, some are driving very fast and very near. Better stand behind the security barrier.
FOCAL LENGTH 24-70 for incoming planes, longer focal if you like 3/4 front shots.
200-300 for departing planes.
Spot #2 – Le Tertre – RWY21 Arrials & Departures
WHERE Leave spot #1 and go ahead on the road. Leave the “Gipsy camp” on your left, and take the first road on the left. Go ahead on nearly 500m, pass over the railway and you get there:
Park your car in front of the big rocks on the left, and go ahead for less than 100m by foot. You are now facing the RWY21 threshold.
No ladder needed (can be useful though for planes lining up to “get” the wheels out of the grass
WHAT Really nice place in the afternoon when RWY21 is in use for arrivals and departures.
TIME From mid- afternoon  to sundown.
MISCELLANEOUS There is nothing nearby, so take what you need with you.
FOCAL LENGTH 70-200  (less when heavies like A330)
Spot #3 – White fence – Apron
WHERE A road is passing along the apron, on the right of the terminal.
Drive like if you want to pass in front of the terminal, then take the road on the left (don’t take care of the road sign, everybody do the same). Parking is now prohibited on the left of the road, so go along and park a bit further, or use the “Park #1 sud (South)”, that’s the one on your left, just opposite the railway.
WHAT Planes arriving, parking and leaving on the apron. Also really nice place for night shots with a tripod.
TIME Morning until beginning of afternoon. In summer, early in the morning, otherwise lot of haze due to heat on the apron surface.
MISCELLANEOUS There is nothing nearby, so take what you need with you.
FOCAL LENGTH 24mm or less for nearest planes (stands 7-8 on the apron), 70-300mm for others
Spot #4  – Fremiou – All Movements
WHERE From Spot #3, go ahead , and at the end of the road, take on your left. Pass the roundabout, leaving the freight area on your right, and go ahead for about 1km. At the next roundabout , take on the right towards Meteo France and the preserved Lookheed Constellation. At the end of the road park your car in front of the Constellation (not on the google picture in 2008) , or on the left of the road.  Do not park in front of the crash gate, or the entry to Meteo France. Then take the gravel lane on the left by foot for 200m, along the fence until the lane turn on the left, leaving the fence. That’s spot #4. You are on the side of the parallel taxyway, near the Bravo exit. If you follow the narrow path between the fence an the bush you get near to a more degaged area, facing Bravo Exit.
WHAT Nice place either for RWY21 ou RWY03. When RWY21 in use, arriving planes are slowing down , and leave runway on Bravo exit, just in front of you. Planes leaving are rotating quite away on your right (Rotation shots possible in winter with long focal, and pure cold air, without haze)
TIME Morning until beginning of afternoon.
MISCELLANEOUS There is nothing nearby, so take what you need with you.
FOCAL LENGTH 24-70mm (or less for big planes) on the taxiway and 100-400mm for planes on the runway.
Spot #5 – Fremiou – All Movements
WHERE Use the same direction to spot #4 but follow the coutnry lane until you find the fence back, you are on the side of the taxiway. Ladder is needed here.
WHAT When RWY03 in use, prefer #5, cause you don’t see beginning of RWY from #4 (except if you follow the narrow path between the bush and the fence). Arriving planes are touching down on your left, and starting to reverse in front of you Departing planes are taxying just a few meters in front of you on their way to Alpha holding point.
TIME Morning until beginning of afternoon.
MISCELLANEOUS There is nothing nearby, so take what you need with you.
FOCAL LENGTH 24-70mm (or less for big planes) on the taxiway and 100-400mm for planes on the runway.
Spot #6 – Final 03 Ramp – 03 Arrivals
WHERE A road is crossing the final 03 ramp, on the south of the airport.
From the roundabout where you turn right to go to spot #4, go ahead instead of turning. Then, at the entry of the little village, take the road on the right. Go ahead, until you reach a Stop sign , and then the second road on the right (follow the “Cavagri” sign). Pass the house on the right, and then you are on the RWY03 final ramp. It’s better not to park here (prohibited) even if some people do.
WHAT Planes on very short final 03, and touching 03.
TIME Anytime, except in the middle of the day (sun exatly facing you)
MISCELLANEOUS There is nothing nearby, so take what you need with you.
FOCAL LENGTH 24-70 mm or less for big planes. Depends on the type of photo you want .
Spot #7 – Les Vignes (The Vineyards) – 03 Arrivals & Line Up
WHERE From spot #6, go ahead on the road. Take the first road on the right and go ahead. You will join the fence on the west side of the airport. You can park on the left side of the road, and then put your ladder near the fence.
WHAT Planes on very short final 03, and touching 03. Planes lining up on 03 , holding point Alpha
TIME From the end of the afternoon, to the sundown. Beautiful light on sunny days, juste before the sun disappear.
MISCELLANEOUS There is nothing nearby, so take what you need with you.
FOCAL LENGTH 200-400 mm
Spot #8 – La butte aux lapins (The rabbits butte) – All Movements
WHERE From spot #7, go ahead on the road, passing the few houses on the left. After 300-400m, you will cross an old dirtpath. Park you car, and follow it to the right until you reach the airport fence.
Then go left under the tree , up on the little mound. You are facing the Bravo exit, but opposite of spot #4 and 5.
WHAT Nice place in the late afternoon in both procedure (RWY03 or RWY21) . You get planes touching down when RWY03 is in use. When RWY21 is in use Arriving planes slowing down and exiting RWY on Bravo exit. Departing planes rotating and climbing with full power.
TIME From the end of the afternoon, to the sundown.
Beautiful light on sunny days, juste before the sun disappear.
MISCELLANEOUS On the good days (summer) , the place is sometime used by couples (legitimate or not) for “outdoor activities”  (some spotters getting there have surprised people in embarrassing positions)
FOCAL LENGTH 200-400 mm

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2 thoughts on “Nantes Atlantique Aéroport Spotting Guide

  1. Gaël ROUX

    Bonjour, non absolument rien de spécial à demander. Juste un escabeau pour la plupart des points de spot 😉

  2. Yves van Hauwermeiren

    Bonjour,

    Pourriez-vous me dire s’il faut une autorisation speciale pour photographier dans et autour de l’aeroport et, dans l’affirmative, comment s’y prendre pour l’obtenir dans un delai relativement court. Je prevois de passer a NTE du 19 au 20 avril.

    Merci beaucoup.

    Cordialement,
    Yves

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