01 of 06
Top Attractions in Angers
The Château of Angers and the Apocalypse Tapestry
You can't miss the formidable château that dominates this lively town. Built from 1231 onwards by Blanche of Castille, the medieval fortification by the river looks out over its now peaceful surroundings. Its huge kilometer-long curtain wall has 17 round towers, originally striking terror into the hearts of the many enemies of the powerful Counts of Anjou.
Angers and Anjou have significant historic ties to England through dynastic marriages, war and conquest. The Counts of Anjou, based here in Angers, reigned over the surrounding countryside from the end of the 9th century to the mid 12th century.
At its peak, the Angevin Empire stretched from the Pyrenees to Ireland and up to the Scottish borders. From 1154 to 1485, fifteen Plantagenet monarchs ruled England. Politics between England and France being complicated (to say the least), the two fortunes of the two nations were intertwined as they fought endless battles. More happily, they influenced each other’s culture.
Little is left inside the castle of its long and sometimes bloody history. But it does contain one mighty treasure, the Tapestry of the Apocalypse, and that is worth a visit alone to Angers. Surprisingly the tapestry remains relatively unknown. It was woven during the Hundred Years War between the English and the French between 1372 and 1382.
More on the Apocalpyse Tapestry
2 promenade du Bout-du-Monde
Tel.: 00 33 (0)2 41 86 48 77
02 of 06
Musee Jean-Lurcat and The Song of the World Tapestry
This impressive contemporary tapestry is housed in the old Hospital of St-Jean, founded in 1174 by the majordomo of King Henry II of England. On the opposite side of the river from the Château, it has a huge nave with columns supporting the lofty roof. As you go in, you pass the dispensary which displays china and porcelain jars, pots and containers for the remedies from the 17th to 18th centuries. The hospital cared for the sick and the poor for over 800 years, only ceasing in 1865. The hospital then became the city‘s Antiquities Museum until 1967 when it became home to the tapestries.
80 meters long, the series of ten tapestries of Jean Lurçat, The Song of the World, was designed and woven between 1957 and 1966. It’s a modern vision of the world, seen through the eyes of an artist whose outlook was influenced by the carnage of two world wars. It was designed during the Cold War with its threat of the atomic bomb wiping out the world, a threat which also plays a part in the images. Essentially this is a vision of Man’s place in the 20th-century Universe.
Jean Lurçat was known as a painter and particularly a colourist before he turned his attention to tapestry work in the late 1930s. In 1937 he saw the Apocalypse Tapestry here in Angers. It was a time when tapestry design was not considered one of the great arts, but he envisaged a return to medieval methods as the way to revitalize the art. In 1939, Lurçat was commissioned to work on the world famous works in Aubusson and began technical improvements that speeded up the creation of tapestries, so making them less expensive to produce.
The tapestry takes threat (particularly the nuclear threat), destruction and chaos as the first four themes, then renewal, hope and joy in the following six tapestries. It’s a highly evocative work, which despite its happier final scenes, is uncomfortable in its power and message.
4 boulevard Arago
Tel.: 00 33 (0)2 41 24 18 45
Website (in English)
June to September daily 10am-6.30pm
October to May, Tuesday to Sunday 10am-noon, 2-6pm
Closed January 1, May 1, November 11, December 25
Adult 4 euros, free to those under 18 years old
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Cathedral of St. Maurice
Dating from the 12th and 13th centuries, the cathedral of St. Maurice is the earliest example in France of the Plantagenet style. Try to approach it from the quayside and the long series of steps that takes you up to the mid-12th century doorway. Inside it’s an elegant vaulted building with notable stained-glass windows – look out for the one of St. Christopher with the head of a dog.
Tel.: 00 33 (0)2 41 87 58 45
Open daily 9am-7pm
04 of 06
Musee des Beaux-Arts
The Musée des Beaux-Arts (Fine Arts Museum) is located in a 15th-century townhouse. Now renovated, it’s divided into two sections covering the history of Angers and fine arts. There are some treasures to discover here – French and Italian Renaissance paintings, as well as works by Fragonard and Watteau. The 20th and 21st centuries are well covered and there’s a section devoted to the Academic style taught here in the 19th century.
14 rue du Musee
Tel.: 00 33 (0)2 41 05 38 00
Website (in English)
Beginning of October to end May daily except Monday 10am-noon, 2-6pm
Beginning of June to end September daily 10am-6pm
Closed Jan 1, May 1, November 1, 11, December 25
Admission 4 eurosContinue to 5 of 6 below.
05 of 06
Sculpture Gallery of David d'Angers
If 19th-century monumental sculptures in an old restored Abbey are your thing, then you must visit this extraordinary homage to the art. You can see drawings, models and plasterworks from the workshop to the finished works in marble and bronze. It’s all rather impressive and also great fun trying to identify the distinguished busts that fill the building. Voltaire, Rousseau, Paganini, Goethe, Victor Hugo and Balzac and many more are there in all their glory.
33 rue Toussains
Tel.: 00 33 (0)2 41 05 38 90
Website (in English)
Early Jun-early Oct: daily 10am-7pm
Early Oct-early Jun: daily (except Mon) 10am-noon, 2-6pm (1st Fri of the month 'til 8pm)
Closed 1 Jan, 1 May, 14 Jul, 1 Nov, 11 Nov, 25 Dec
Admission 4 euros
06 of 06
Visit the Carré Cointreau
The liqueur Cointreau has been distilled in Angers since the brothers Adolphe and Edouard-Jean Cointreau set up their now famous artisanal distillery in 1849. Now owned by Remy-Cointreau, the distillery and modern visitor’s center are in the outskirts of the town.
Here you can learn about the history and distilling, and of course get to taste the amber nectar (and buy a bottle or two). You can take a guided tour and/or go for a tasting session (10 euros). Telephone first or check with the tourist office for opening times.
Tel.: 00 33 (0)2 41 31 50 50
Website (in English)