Although it is often dismissed rather off-handedly as stepping stone into the Loire Valley, Angers, in Western France, is a fascinating destination in its own right.
First among the city’s attractions is Le Chateau d’Angers which sits on a rocky outcrop overlooking the Maine River. It was originally constructed as a fort by the Plantagenet King, Henry II. Then, in the 13th century, Louis IX upgraded the fort into one of the most powerful citadels in France. During the 16th and 17th centuries, the château’s main purpose was defensive and then later it served as a military training school. During World War II, the occupying Nazi forces used it to store arms and ammunition. Considerable damage was caused when these exploded. Today, fully restored, the château’s moat, drawbridge, cobbled courtyard, battlements and thick stone walls look set to stand another thousand years.
Anger is also known for its tapestries. The 100 yards long Tenture de L’Apocalypse which was commissioned by Louis IX in the 14th century is housed in the château d’Anger. The 20th-century Chant du Monde, or song of the World is on display at the Jean Lurçat museum. The bustling old town, with its pedestrian streets and thriving café culture, the cathedral, with its stained-glass windows and the mediaeval Quartier de la Doutre are all striking and unique features of Angers
Finally, Angers is famed as the “most flowered city in Europe”. Its displays of cut and live flowers all over the city, especially around Le Château d’Angers are stunning.
Stepping stone to the Loire? Yes, but well worth the stop, nonetheless.