A day of culture in Angers

At last the beautiful warm sunny weather I have been hoping for has arrived in France!

As the title suggests yesterday was a day immersed in the culture of Angers and what a fabulous day it was. Elodie and I headed to town on the light rail (what a fabulous piece of transport this is for convenience and keeping traffic out of the Centre).  It is so cheap to ride it is well loaded all the time. 

We jumped off at the large Saturday morning Lafayette market where they sell all sorts of food (cheese, you have never seen so many varieties, breads, fish, poultry, meats and anything else you can think of) beautiful flowers and plants then a few clothes but mainly food. Good fun and a lovely way to shop. 

Then was a tour of the Angers Chateau, finally a place with a decent moat, very deep as you will see in later photos. I have very romantic notions of moats, drawbridges, maidens, horses, warriors, swords, bow and arrows etc (pretty much Medieval stuff) but I am so disappointed that after all this I find it has never had water (or Alligators) in it but was used as a field to grow vegetables and other necessities to keep the people alive, I did not want to read that!

The Chateau is home to The Apocalypse Tapestry, here I am going to borrow a few words and a photo from elsewhere as I do not think my words can do justice to this amazing Tapestry and no photos allowed. It is worth the read:

The Apocalypse Tapestry is a large medieval French set of tapestries commissioned by Louis I, the Duke of Anjou, and produced between 1377 and 1382. It depicts the story of the Apocalypse from the Book of Revelation by Saint John the Divine in colourful images, spread over a number of sections that originally totalled 90 scenes. Despite being lost and mistreated in the late 18th century, the tapestry was recovered and restored in the 19th century and is now on display at the Chateau d’Angers. It is the oldest French medieval tapestry to have survived, and historian Jean Mesqui considers it “one of the great artistic interpretations of the revelation of Saint John, and one of the masterpieces of French cultural heritage”. 

When Louis 11, the son of Louis 1, married Yolanda of Aragon in 1400, the Tapestry was displayed in the courtyard of the Archbishopric of Arles and a contemporary account testifies to it as an object of great beauty. In 1480 it was bequeathed to Angers Cathedral by the last Duke of Anjou, King Rene. In the late 18th Century it was regarded as old fashioned and was severely mutilated. When its true value was appreciated once again in the mid 19th Century it was restored. In 1954 the Tapestry was returned to the Castle which the Army had just left. 

This is an amazing piece of work and I am so glad to have seen it. I believe it is in good hands now and it has its own climatically controlled room. 

Now more about the Chateau, from the outside it is hard to believe there was a whole community living here but I suppose in those days it was necessary for keeping the Marauding Hordes at bay. A lot of it is beautifully restored including gardens planted with species of the times. There are fruit orchards, vegetable gardens and even a witches garden, the goodies from where I imagine even the weakest of witches could whip up some great concoctions. 

Founded in the 9th century by the Counts of Anjou, it was expanded to its current size in the 13th century. It is located overhanging the river Maine. Originally, this castle was built as a fortress at one of the sites inhabited by the Romans because of its strategic defensive location. 

In the 9th century, the Bishop of Angers gave the Counts of Anjou permission to build a castle in Angers. In 1204, the region was conquered by Philip II and an enormous castle was built during the minority of his grandson, Louis IX (“Saint Louis”) in the early part of the 13th century. The construction was undertaken in 1234. Louis gave the castle to his brother, Charles in 1246. 

 As a tribute to its fortitude, the castle has never been taken by any invading force in history.

There is a long and amazing history here which if you are seriously interested in dates etc you can ask Dr Google. 

 Although the gardens are beautiful what a waste of a good moat!!

A few pics from around the Chateau. Too bad they built it so close to such a busy road!

I love the contradiction of the hot air balloon with the old walls and the tower. 

On our way to the tower, not sure what we did wrong but looks as though it was fun and ‘winter meat’ the pigeon in case we get hungry. 

You gotta love a good drawbridge!!

My wonderful host Elodie, she is great company and took time off work to show me a good time. Enough of that you would think we did nothing else yesterday, how wrong you are!!!!

Elodie and I wandered around town, not aimlessly because I had a couple of things I wanted to achieve. Did those and caught the light rail home for a bit of a spell (not of the witches garden variety!).

Elodie had a cousins party on which was only cousins, no kids, parents or others which she did not want to miss so her beautiful Aunt Chantal came to mind me. A change of clothes and off to town again, lucky it is not far. 

What a woman, gentle, beautiful, friendly, should have been a tour guide because she is so knowledgeable and best of all she speaks fairly good English! We set off on a walking tour covering Jardin des Plantes, streets and buildings of the old town, a stroll around Galerie Lafayette (a most beautiful department store) and best of all a wonderful gallery, Galerie David D’Angers a sculptor and artist born in Angers.  The gallery exhibits casts by the artist, as well as drawings, terracotta studies and sculptures in marble and bronze. 

Since 1984, the restored abbey-church of All Saints (dating from the 13th Century) has housed the works of David d’Angers (1788-1856). An absolute gem that is not well advertised and unless you were really looking for it unfortunately you would miss it – fantastic. 

As we were wandering to our chosen restaurant (and it was a good choice) the Cathedral bells were going nuts, we discovered there had just completed a First Communion Mass and the celebrations were about to begin. A beautiful scene with all the lovely children and proud parents. 

A stroll around the old town, note the medieval houses. 

Gosh I have not started thinking about words for today yet but it has been another big one and a seriously big last day in Angers coming up tomorrow so I will publish this and try to gather my thoughts on today.  

Kath xxx


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