Sitting out on the terrace at Lou Messugo between 10 and 11pm in July and August you could be forgiven for thinking there was yet another thunderstorm in the distance. After listening to the chorus of toads croaking their amorous intentions throughout the spring, the summer months on the Côte d'Azur resound to the booms and thuds of fireworks and we can hear them from as far away as Biot and Cannes. We are 12 kilometres from the nearest coast but the quiet still eveings carry the sound far and practically every night there seems to be a display somewhere in the vicinity. This area is blessed with such natural beauty as a backdrop that together with the wealth of many local towns (even in these times of austerity and financial crisis) you are ensured a spectacular display. My favourite place to watch has got to be Nice where up to seven barges are moored in the Baie des Anges from which the fireworks are let off. The colourful explosions ripple across the bay from one barge to another reflecting in the water like a mirror. It never fails to impress and I'm always amazed to see planes taking off and landing at Nice airport on the far western point of the bay during the displays, thinking (I guess naively) that it would be distracting for the pilot. One day I'd like to see the fireworks from the air.
There are three main fireworks festivals locally all of which last several weeks; the Monaco International Musical Fireworks Competition in which four countries compete with fireworks set to music in the glamorous setting of the Port of Monaco. The Antibes Pyromelodic Festival, another sound and light festival which takes place in Juan les Pins and off the beach near Fort Vauban and finally perhaps the most impressive of the lot, the Cannes Festival of Pyrotechnical Art, with six competitors from six different countries. This festival attracts the biggest names in the business and the trophee is one of the most prestigious in the profession.
Here are the dates for some summer displays in 2012, there will undoubtedly be more! In general, shows start at 10pm but check with the websites above to be sure. The country, or person/organisation from a certain country, competing is in brackets.
9 July: Monaco - (France)
13 July: Cagnes sur Mer, Valbonne
14 July: Nice, Cannes - (Italy)
19 July: Monaco - (Czech Republic)
20 July: Cagnes sur Mer at the Hippodrome not beach
21 July: Cannes - (China)
30 July: Cannes - (Spain)
1 Aug: Antibes
7 Aug: Cannes - (France)
8 Aug: Antibes, Monaco - (Austria)
15 Aug: Nice, Antibes, Cannes - (Germany)
24 Aug: Antibes, Cannes - (Argentina)
25 Aug: Monaco - (England)
Thanks to Cyril Almeras for the amazing photo of fireworks in Juan les Pins