From the outside, it’s a real fortress: with its 17 defensive towers, drawbridge and black shale stone, the Chateau d’Angers carves an imposing silhouette. But as soon as you enter the courtyard, you’re struck by the calm that reigns in this little haven of greenery. Visitors can walk in the gardens, between the various tuffeau stone buildings – but the real jewel of this chateau is a tapestry, the ‘Tenture d’Apocalypse’, commissioned in 1375 by Duke Louis I of Anjou. A staggering 103 metres long and 4.5 metres high, it’s the largest preserved medieval tapestry in the world and reflects the historical, social and political context of France in the 16th century. Prepare to be awestruck.
Read our ‘ABC’ guide to Loire Valley chateaux here.
Mix up genres at Collégiale Saint-Martin
It’s the oldest religious building in Angers and one of the best-preserved Carolingian monuments in France. Located at the heart of the historic town centre, the Collegiate Church of St. Martin was entirely renovated in the 1980s. Today, the building offers a very eclectic artistic programme, which contrasts with its historic architecture. For three years, the church has collaborated with the Pays de la Loire Regional Contemporary Art Fund to open its doors to a contemporary artist. Until 5 January 2020, the sculptures of Xavier Veilhan take centre stage, toying with the third dimension. The church also organises murder mystery parties and hosts the Premier Plans festival in January, dedicated to digital creation online. Lots to see!
Explore the world of sculptor David d’Angers
A very special place was needed to honour the memory of local sculptor David d’Angers. In the original setting of the Abbatiale Toussaint, an old abbey dating from the 13th century, you can now admire the work of this Angevine artist. Under the domed vaults characteristic of Anjou, now surmounted by a contemporary glass roof added in the 1980s, you can walk amongst the monumental sculptures that made the artist famous: the Angevine ‘Bonchamps’ and the ‘Fronton du Panthéon’. In the choir are earlier works and preparatory statuettes, as well as busts and medallions.
Travel back in time in Angers’ streets
Walk with your head held high in Angers and follow the tourist trail, a two-and-a-half-hour walk wending its way through the streets of the historic town centre. From the Maison d’Adam, a half-timbered house from the Middle Ages bedecked with statues, to the Blue House and its characteristic Art-Deco mosaics, not forgetting the Saint-Maurice cathedral, symbol of the Gothic Angevine architecture… you can do it all on foot.
Surrender to a sweet treat
To refuel after wandering the streets of Angers, make a stop at Benoît Chocolats and indulge in the house speciality, the caramande: a thin, triangular sheet of flaked and caramelised almonds with salted butter, covered with dark or milk chocolate. You can continue a few doors down at the home of the Quernon d’Ardoise, where the Anjou slate roof tiles have been turned into edible treats: little blue-tinted white chocolate squares with a crunchy nougatine centre. Delicious!
To find out where the Angers locals go, click here.
Taste the local orange nectar
Did you know that Cointreau is made exclusively in Angers? This famous orange liqueur was created in 1875 by Edouard Cointreau and, almost 170 years later, you can visit the family distillery located on Rue Saint-Laud. Uncover the secrets of this renowned drink, from the copper still room to the exhibition spaces explaining the advertising history of the house and its iconic square bottle. Tours end with a tasting at the smart new bar, which can be extended into a cocktail masterclass.
Fancy extending your stay in Angers? Good news: there are still plenty of things to explore in and around town. Lose yourself among the 275,000 plants of Terra Botanica, the world’s only theme park dedicated to plants. Film buffs should make a beeline for the Chateau du Plessis-Bourré, which served as a set for classic French fairytale Peau d’Âne, Le Bossu and La Princesse de Montpensier. There are also the chateaux of Brissac (the tallest in France), Plessis-Macé and Serrant, all located in the Angers area. And on sunny days, enjoy a cruise on the Loire or a walk through the vineyards.