Tourist Places in Anjou(Angers)

Close to where the Maine River enters the Loire, Angers is an impossibly beautiful city awash with renaissance architecture.

This opulence was the perk of being the capital of Anjou, a historical province ruled by dukes and counts who wielded serious power in medieval times.

The might of these dynasties will be evident when you see Angers Castle, the seat of the counts and a formidable stronghold from the 1300s that looks like it could withstand anything thrown it is way.

You’ll fall in love with the splendid art that the rich nobility commissioned, and can delve into renaissance houses, twee old neighborhoods and the majestic but less frequented châteaux of the lower Loire Valley.

Let’s explore the best things to do in Anger:

1. Angers Castle

The ultimate symbol of the might of the medieval Counts of Anjou, Angers Castle as we see it was built in 1231. The outer wall rules over the southern part of the city center, with a curtain that goes on for 660 meters and is strengthened with 17 bulk towers, every 18 meters in height.

It’s a truly impressive show of force that belies the daintiness of the residence within the courtyard.

The Grand Salle is from the 9th century, when the castle was first built, and there are chapels, lodgings and parterre gardens to discover.

You could also “man the battlements” for views of the city or take stroll in the sweet formal gardens at the base of the walls in the castle’s former ditches.

2. Apocalypse Tapestry

n the 1370s, Louis I, the Duke of Anjou commissioned artist Jean Bondol to make the preliminary sketches for what would become the immense tapestry that is presented inside the castle.

The Apocalypse Tapestry was finished in 1382 and would have required as much as 85 accumulative years of labor from its weavers at their workshop in Paris.

When it was done it had six sections, each one just over six meters high and 24 meters wide, and is seen by critics as one of the greatest artistic representations of the Book of Revelations and a medieval wonder.

3. Musée Jean-Lurçat

The 12th-century Hôpital Saint-Jean is a phenomenal piece of Angevin gothic design, and its impressive how much of it is still here.

La Grande Salle des Malades (Hall of the Sick), measures 60 by 22.5 meters and has beautiful vaulting, while the granary, 17th-century apothecary and cloister have been almost completely preserved.

In the Grand Salle des, Malades is the Chant du Monde (Song of the World), a sequence of ten modern tapestries by the artist Jean Lurçat, which are a kind of synopsis of all the good and bad in the world, inspired by the Apocalypse Tapestry on show at the castle.

4. Musée des Beaux-Arts

Those in the known rate Anger’ fine arts museum, situated in the renaissance Logis Barrault, as one of the top regional museums in France.

And as is usually the way with such attractions there are galleries of European painting paired with exhibitions of archaeology relevant to Anger and its region.

The “Parcours Histoire d’Angers” is a trail that ushers you through the collections from Anger’s former museum of antiquities, with portraits of the historical personalities and landscapes of Anger through the ages to convey the development of the city.

Then the “Parcours Beaux-Arts” shows the Flemish, Italian and French school paintings that once enriched the homes of the city’s elite.

5. Angers Cathedral

Constructed in the 13th century but frequently altered down the years, the cathedral is a bit of a mish-mash of styles, but it can be satisfying to work out which part of the church was built when.

For instance, the 77-meter-high towers are from the 16th century and in the renaissance style, while the carvings of Christ and the symbols of the Evangelists in the western portal below are gothic, and date to the church’s earliest years.

There was a big fire in the 1400s, which took out many of the stained glass windows, but that only gave master glassmaker André Robin the opportunity to craft the current fabulous red and blue windows in 1453.

6. Maison d’Adam

Just behind the cathedral on Place Sainte-Croix is a renaissance timber building from the late-15th century, which is unmissable in every sense.

It stands at six stories tall and its beams have an ornate diamond pattern.

As is the case with most houses from this era, the upper levels are larger than the ones below and are propped up by the most intricately carved corbels.

One of these is of an apple tree, around which would have been caricatures of Adam and Eve, which explains the name.

Just behind the cathedral on Place Sainte-Croix is a renaissance timber building from the late-15th century, which is unmissable in every sense.

It stands at six storeys tall and its beams have an ornate diamond pattern.

As is the case with most houses from this era, the upper levels are larger than the ones below and are propped up by the most intricately carved corbels.

One of these is of an apple tree, around which would have been caricatures of Adam and Eve, which explains the name.

7. Jardin des Plantes

Although the current Jardin des Plantes was plotted in the English style at the start of the 20th century,  there had been a botanical garden here, just outside the old walls, since botany became fashionable in the 1700s.

The park is four peaceful hectares of lawns, woodland, bushes, flowerbeds, a lake, stream and waterfalls, all embellished with sculptures.

If you know your horticulture you might be able to point out the more exotic specimens, like a paulownia tree, which is native to China and Korea, a Siberian elm and Quercus fares, a species of oak that grows in Algeria and Tunisia.

Bring the little guys to make friends with the goats, while there are also deer and aviaries for parrots.

8. La Doutre

Cross Maine for a wander in the district once encircled by Anger’ walls.

La Doutre is a clutter of streets and alleys, many with covered passageways and lined with timber-framed houses.

All you have to do is take Rue Beaurepaire from the bridge and let yourself be drawn down the side streets.

Place de la Laiterie has a real village-like feel in what is still the center of the city, while Place du Tertre Saint-Laurent is where the 19th-century bourgeoisie settled, and all the adjoining streets have refined stone mansions.

With its avenue of giant plane trees, Quai Monge is as grand as it gets and belongs to the Berges de Maine, a 300-hectare public space by the River.

9. Terra Botanica

When it opened in 2010 it became the first theme park based on plants and botany.

And if that sounds a bit dry for kids there’s a lot for them to get stuck into, like La Balade des Times, a sort of elevated pedal monorail that lifts you above the tree canopy, and exciting 4D CGI movies that show the water cycle from the perspective of a water droplet or take you on a journey into a dinosaur reserve.

As Terra Botanica is largely organic, with 300,000 plants from around the world, there are different colours and scents whether you come in May or at the end of the season in September.

10. Logis Pincé

This museum of classical and oriental art has been closed for refurbishments for the last couple of years.

If it is open when you come, there are Roman ceramics, Egyptian hieroglyphics and a wealth of art from Japan and China, including porcelain, glassware, bronzes and theatre masks.

But even of the museum is still being renovated, you’d be remiss not to stop on Rue Lenepvue for a photo of Logis Pincé’s fairytale renaissance architecture.

The building is from the 1500s and is like a miniature Loire Château in the heart of the city.

11. Galerie David d’Angers

David d’Angers was a leading sculptor in the 18th and 19th centuries, receiving commissions from all over Europe and even America.

As his name might tell you, he was a native of Anger, and this museum has accumulated many of the preparatory plasters he made before fashioning marble or bronze sculptures.

There are 985 statues, medallions and busts in all, including those for preeminent contemporary figures like Goethe, Victor Hugo Balzac and Chateaubriand.

The setting is also exquisite; the 13th-century Toussaint Abbey was in ruins before it was converted for this museum in 1984, with a new glass roof filling the galleries with natural light.

13. Château de Brissac

A simple 15-minute drive from Anger, the Château de Brissac is absolutely spellbinding.

The renaissance and baroque design we see now is from the 16th century and was ordered by Pierre de Brézé, a chief minister for King Charles VII. At seven storeys tall it’s the highest château in France, with 200 rooms and has been in the same family for 20 generations.

You’ll need an hour for the tour, perusing rooms enriched with gilt, damask and fine period furniture.

Beneath the grounds is a 250-metre canal designed for when the nearby river flooded, and a wine cellar for you to taste Rosé d’Anjou and take a bottle home as a souvenir.