June 20, 2010

Angers - June 18

Angers is the historic capital of Anjou, home of the Plantagenets and gateway to the Loire Valley. We found it big. There are lots of one-way streets and it took us a while to find the Tourist Information, let alone all the sites. We reminded ourselves yet again that we prefer smaller towns.

Roi René

The best way to explore a new city quickly is to go on a tour. This one was on "Le Petit Train d'Angers" which covered the "Cité" and the "Doutre", two old quarters. Some of these photos are blurry, but they were taken while the train was travelling at a good clip on cobblestones, so a bumpy ride.

Pretty impressive statues for the doorway leading to a hair stylist.

Typical street: clean, bright, not as old in this section.

                     Quai Ligny

Hôtel des Pénitentes

Place du Tertre

La Maison d'Adam, with carvings showing the tree of life.

The town has a formidable 13th-century Château built using black and white stones.

The moats at le Château d'Angers never held water, but did house exotic animals. Today they are filled with sculpted gardens.

Taking a break below the castle walls.

Angers was once inhabited by fierce Celtic peoples who tenaciously opposed Roman penetration. After the period of the Norman invasions (IX century) Fulk Nerra, Count of Anjou, had a castle built here. (Models are displayed in one of the towers. The king's residence, located in the lower right hand corner of these photos.)

This first stronghold was replaced by a better furnished architectural complex built by Louis IX, known as St-Louis, between 1228 and 1238, which was then further enlarged by Louis I of Anjou and under Louis II of Anjou, added a Gothic chapel. The court of René of Anjou, known as the Good, regent of Sicily and Jerusalem, resided here. A man of letters and benefactor of the local community, he was fond of fêtes and tournaments which were often held at the castle.

Karl at the main gate to the castle that opens to the old city.

The religious wars later led to the decline of the castle and Henry III ordered it to be demolished in 1585. The cylindrical towers of the pentagonal stronghold began to be torn down and the conical roof and the upper part were dismantled.

Family tree of the various kings through the centuries.  This castle is sometimes called Château René.

There are gardens within the castle grounds - even on the castle's ramparts.


A place for afternoon tea. This was originally the residence of the castle's governor.

La Cathédrale St-Maurice, noted for its façade and 13th-century stained-glass windows.

Impressive views of the city from the ramparts.

Bridges, both old and new, cross the river Maine.

Internal gate tower leading to the king's residence. This is more or less the only part of his residence still left standing.

This is a piece of art within one of the Château's towers that represents the souls of the dead who long to tell their story. Note: during the American War for Independence, France sided with the American states. The French navy was victorious over the British navy and British sailors found themselves imprisoned in France - many ended locked up in this castle.


Inside the Château is the longest (338 feet) and one of the finest medieval tapestries in the world. It tells the story of the Apocalypse, with battles between hydras and angels. The room used to display this tapestry is huge and very dark - not conducive for taking photos and no flash allowed.

Commissioned by Louis I, Duke of Anjou, in 1373, this magnificent textile is based on drawings by the painter Jean de Bandol, also called Hennequin de Bruges, and was woven by Nicolas Bataille.


The series of panels which illustrate the "Book of Revelations" of St. John was in the archbishopric of Arles in 1400 and after 1474 in the church of St-Maurice in Angers. In 1782 the tapestries disappeared, to be recovered in 1848 by a canon, Joubert, who had them restored.

Each panel is accompanied by the figure of St. John, who participates in and illlustrates the scene. 

For further enlightenment, go to:  http://sourcebook.fsc.edu/history/apocalypse.html  The 5 tapestry photos were taken from this site. 

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