The highlight of a visit is surely the Chateau d'Angers and the Apocalypse Tapestry but there are several other highlights to enjoy during your visit to Angers.
Angers is sometimes referred to as the ‘Black’ because of the slate with which its buildings are constructed. It is a city which still retains its medieval structure, with narrow, winding streets and is a tourist town of considerable attractions.
Next to the castle stands the Cathedral of Saint-Maurice, consecrated in 1030 by Bishop Hubert, and then extended over the centuries. In gothic style it is a Latin cross and a single nave, with sail vaults and a series of beautiful stained glass windows and numerous statues.
See also the so-called medieval ‘House of Adam’ (‘Maison d'Adam’), which houses a collection of sculptures depicting the tree of life; the David of Angers Gallery (Musée David d'Angers [1788-1856]), dedicated to one of the most famous sculptors of France and creator of busts and sculptures that adorn the main historical monuments of France.
Also worthy of note are two museums of the city:
- the ‘Musée Jean Lurçat’, which houses beautiful tapestries by Jean Lurçat (1892-1966); one famous tapestry is called ‘Le chant du monde’, depicting the dangers of our time, such as nuclear disaster.
- the ‘Musée des Beaux Arts’ in Rue du Musée has paintings from the fourteenth to the twentieth century, with works like ‘The Virgin and Child and St. John the Baptist’, by Botticino (1446-1497), ‘The Virgin and Child’, by Niccolò Pisano (1470 ca.-1536), ‘Les Festin de Diex’ by Jan Brueghel the Elder (1568-1625), Rubens [1577-1640] ( ‘Silène’), Lorenzo Lippi [1606-1665] (‘Allegory of the simulation’), as well as many landscapes (Monet[1840-1926], Lebourg [1849-1928], Boudin [1824-1898], Lebasque[1865-1937]).
Leaving the city, you can visit the ‘Chateau de Serrand’ a few kilometres from Angers. To immerse yourself in natural beauty, you can hike along the sandy shores of the Maine. Be sure to also try a local wine of Anjou, such as ‘les Coteaux de l'Aubance’ and the ‘Coteaux de Savènniere,’ and ending with the classic liqueur ‘Cointreau’.
History of Angers
The city of Angers has very ancient origins and it seems possible that it existed in Roman times – the place referred to by Caesar's Commentaries as the place called ‘Andes’ or ‘Andibus’ that was used as a winter camp for his legions. (Lucan (39-65 AD) refers to the place as ‘Andus’).
The city was founded on two hills, between which flows the Maine River, which divide it into two parts, connected by several bridges. Angers is an ancient and powerful city, with walls accessible through many gates built over the centuries. The centre of the walled city (the Citadel) is dominated by the castle, which, according to a tradition (not universally accepted), was built in 718 AD by Ranfray, Count of Anjou, who, the chronicles say, built a palatial residence ‘having demolished the monastery of Saint Maur’.
This is the legend.The established history of the castle and town dates back to the 13th century.
The origin of the name Angers is also unclear, although it is known that the original Roman names of 'Andes’ and ‘Andegaves’ derived from the Gauls who inhabited the area, and Caesar called it ‘Andecavi’. According to one interpretation, the term would mean ‘the great heroes’ or ‘giants’, but this is uncertain.