The delightful region of Anjou in western France, lying on both sides of the Loire, is now the département of Maine-et- Loire, with Angers as its chief town.
It bears the name of an old county which in 1360 became a duchy. This region offers excellent conditions for the growth of flowers and fruit. Along the banks of the Loire and the other rivers in the region (the Mayenne, the Sarthe, the Loir, the Layon) and in the surrounding area are the numerous Châteaux and churches which give Anjou its special charm.The most important town after Angers is Saumur, farther up the Loire valley. The Route du Vin d'Anjou runs from Angers to Chalonnes, Thouarcé, Doué, Montreuil-Bellay, Saumur, Gennes, Brissac and back to Angers. The varied character of Anjou's scenery was expressed by René Bazin in the words: "Anjou is not made all of a piece - it is composed of a hundred different landscapes." Haut- Anjou (Upper Anjou) is the area north of Angers centered on Le Lion d'Angers.In the Middle Ages, under the Foulques dynasty, Anjou developed into one of the most important French feudal states, which considerably extended its territories by conquest and dynastic marriage, acquiring in this way Touraine, Maine and parts of Aquitaine. Geoffroy V (1128-1151), Count of Anjou, the first of his line to bear the name Plantagenet, conquered Normandy for his son Henry, later Henry II of England, and he in turn acquired Aquitaine by his marriage with Eleanor of Aquitaine. With the destruction of the Angevin kingdom by Philip II of Spain Anjou passed to the French crown (1204). Thereafter the title of Duc d'Anjou was borne by princes of the French royal house. At the end of the 18th century Anjou was the scene of the Vendée rising against the French Revolution.
In the 15th C Baugé was the favorite residence of Yolande of Aragon, mother of the future Roi René, who also liked to hold court here. The Château of Baugé, which has an elegant spiral staircase, now houses the Town Hall and a small museum (china, weapons, old coins). In the Chapelle des Filles du Côur de Marie is the Croix d'Anjou (Cross of Anjou), a precious relic brought from Constantinople in the 13th century. In 1421 a joint French and Scottish army defeated the English in the battle of Baugé.Rebuilt in the 15th C. by the Duchesses d'Anjou and added on to at tremendous cost by King Rene, who made it his principal residence. The interior has been greatly modified by the addition of the town hall, a theater, a museum and the main station for the local firebrigade.
Fontevraud Abbey, first founded in the 11th C, has had many uses over the years including a prison. Today it serves as a conference center.
Chateau of Montsoreau, Montsoreau, France
The 15th century Château of Montsoreau, between Fontevraud and Saumur, has preserved its fortress- like character. It contains the Musée des Goums, with mementos of the conquest of Morocco. (The Goums were Moroccan units incorporated in the French army.) Alexandre Dumas immortalized one of the châtelaines of Montsoreau in his novel "La Dame de Montsoreau". 1.5km/1mi south is the 15th century Moulin de la Herpinière.
At Bagneux, 2km/1.5mi southwest of Saumur, is one of the most impressive megalithic tombs in Europe.
Château de Brézé
11km/7mi southeast of Saumur is the Château de Brézé, a Renaissance moated castle (restored).
13km/8mi northwest of Saumur is the beautiful Romanesque abbey church of Cunault (11th-13th C), with an interior notable for its clarity of form. There are remains of Romanesque and Gothic frescoes in the domes of the apses. On the south side of the ambulatory is a reliquary of polychrome wood.
Anjou Pictures View All