FRANCE PAYS DE LA LOIRE MAINE ET LOIRE Toits d'ardoise d'Angers en France avec l'église de la Trinité

Nicknamed the Black City, due to its slate-roof-dominated skyline, Angers (pop 157,000) is a somewhat subdued town that hardly presents a cheerful atmosphere. However, it has a rich history, as Angers was once the capital of the historic Anjou County and its giant medieval walls still stand  Today, the city is better known for its unique Cointreau liquer and stunning tapestries.

Angers is dissected by the Maine River into its old (eastern bank) and new (western bank) districts. Its commercial streets are at the old district, pass Place St Croix. The bus and train stations are also located here, in the southern area at Place de la Gare. You can also fly in, at the Angers-Marché airport, located northeast of town.




LOIRE VALLEY angers chateauLocated on the riverbanks of the old district, lies the imposing black structure of the Château D’Angers [1 Place du Président Kennedy, +33 241868194,, ad/ch €6 Free (Prices vary with audio guides)] which is said to have been built in 1231. The entire complex covers an area close to 25 hectares and is surrounded by 17 watchtowers. It was once home to the counts of Anjou; but today, it is home to Angers’ biggest tourist attraction – the Tenture de l’Apocalypse (Apocalypse Tapestry). This 101m long work was created in 1375, under the orders of Louis I, to depict the events in the Book of Revelations. The events are divided into 6 sections (denoting the 6 chapters in the book), with a white rectangle punctuating the end of each chapter.

WEST LOIRE VALLEY Cathedrale AngersNortheast of the castle, close to the heart of the city, lies the Cathédrale St-Maurice [4 Rue Saint-Christophe, +33 241875845]. It is one of the earliest Plantagenet buildings in France and it has a distinctive rounded ribbed vaulting. It also has its share of apocalyptic reference in its stain-glass paintings that date back to the 12th century, portraying the Day of Judgement. Although the cathedral has been damaged a number of times, it has also managed to preserve interesting sculptures in its domain. If you head on in front of the cathedral, you will find the Montée St-Maurice (a large stairway) to lead you to the river down below.

Just across the cathedral stands the historic Maison d’Adam [1 Place Sainte-Croix, +33 241880627]. It is the oldest and most well-preserved residence in Angers (despite its slight tilt) and it features 16th century wood panelling, together with numerous decorative sculptures surrounding its façade.

Like some of its neighbours, Angers has also produced a renowned artist in its land- Pierre-Jean David (also simply known as David d’Angers). The city has dedicated an entire gallery Galerie David d’Angers [33 bis, rue Toussaint, +33 241053890 ad/ch €4/3] to their hometown boy, who is famous for creating realistic busts and sculptures. His works have adorned many places across France, from the Panthéon to the Père Lachaise cemetery. The gallery itself houses an interesting array of sculptures that were modelled after famous names such as the comedian Talma, Victor Hugo and Chateaubriand. In fact, the building that houses the gallery, Toussaint Abbey, is a work of art in its own right.

The Hospital St-Jean was one of the first few buildings to have been erected here, by Henry Plantagenet. Today, it has been converted to house the Musée Jean-Lurçat et de la Tapisserie Contemporarie [4, boulevard Arago, +33 241241845/241241848 ad/ch €4/3]. The museum collects 20th century tapestries created by Jean-Lurçat, Thomas Gleb and others. However, perhaps the most famous work of them all, are the 10 Chant de Monde tapestries, by Jean-Lurçat. The work was created in 1957 to depict the ups and downs of human life and one look at the wall-hanging, will tell you why- it fully encompasses the spectacularly confusing yet sequential events in human history; ranging from the nuclear holocaust to the simple pleasures of drinking.

Musée des Beaux-Arts [14 rue du muse, +33 241053800 ad/ch €4/3] sits in the heavily restored, yet lovely Angevin aristocratic house, Logis Burrault. The grand, pale building holds an artistic collection from the 18th -20th centuries, with works by local artisans such as Lenepveu and Bodinier. It also comprises of a section dedicated to documenting the history of Angers, with relics dating back to the Neolithic era.

When speaking of Angers, something must be said of the Cointreau liqueur, which was originally concocted here, in 1849. Derived from brewing orange peel, this distinctively flavoured liqueur was first brewed in a factory by two local brothers- Adolphe and Édouard-Jean Cointreau .  The current Cointreau liqueur is still brewed here in the original factory, using the same 19th century recipe. If you would like to know more about this unique concoction you can visit the Carré Cointreau [Saint Barthelemy d’Anjou, +33 241315050 €6.20-9.80 (guided tours)] which takes you on a tour through the distillery, archives and interesting old advertisements for the drink (including a cine advert created by the Lumière brothers).

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ANGERS:   1. Tourist office  2. Train station  3. Maine River  4.  Place St Croix  5. Château D’Angers  6. Cathédrale St-Maurice  7. Maison d’Adam  8. Galerie David d’Angers  9. Musée Jean-Lurçat et de la Tapisserie Contemporarie (north of map limits; zoom out to view) 10. Musée des Beaux-Arts  11. Carré Cointreau (east of map limits; zoom out to view)