Angers Tourist Attractions
Angers, once capital of the county of Anjou and now chief town of the département of Maine-et-Loire, the see of a bishop and a university town, lies half way between Tours and Nantes straddling the river Maine, 8km/5mi above its junction with the Loire. Slate-quarrying is an old-established industry in the surrounding area. Other important industries are textiles and electrical apparatus and appliances.
In Gallo-Roman times Angers was the center of a territory inhabited by the Andecavi, and after the Roman conquest a fort was built above the river at this point. In the ninth century the Normans occupied the town but were driven out by Charles the Bald. With the rise of Foulques dynasty, who were at first Viscounts and from around 950 Counts of Anjou, the town flourished, along with the rest of Anjou. In the time of Foulques Nerra (987-1030) in particular many defensive and religious buildings were erected. Geoffroy V (1129- 1151) was the first of the line to bear the name Plantagenet (after his crest, a stylized broom bush (genista), and his son was the first Plantagenet king of England as Henry II. In the 12th century, therefore, Anjou became an English possession. Charles of Anjou was given the throne of Naples and Sicily by the Pope, but his ambitious political plans were shattered by the Sicilian Vespers (1282), when 6,000 Frenchmen were killed by the Sicilians. The best known figure in the history of Angers is Duke René I, "le bon Roi René". As a ruler he was unsuccessful (losing the last remaining Italian territories held by Anjou), but as a man he was highly cultivated, a patron of the arts, and made his capital a great cultural center. After his death in 1481 Anjou passed to the French crown. In 1940 the provisional government of Poland was based in Angers.
Tenture de l'Apocalypse
St Maurice Cathedral
In the Place du Ralliement, in the old town of Angers, is the Gothic Cathedral of St-Maurice (12th-13th C), to which a handsome ramp and staircase lead up from the banks of the Maine. On the doorway are sculptured figures with remains of their original coloring; in the tympanum is Christ enthroned, surrounded by the symbols of the four Evangelists, and above this are eight statues of knights (16th C). The facade has three towers; the central tower was built in the High Renaissance period.
The interior is impressive, with fine stained glass (12th, 13th and 15th C) depicting scenes from the life of the Virgin and the martyrdoms of St Catherine of Alexandria and St Vincent, tapestries and a richly decorated 18th C organ gallery. In the cathedral treasury is an antique marble bath converted into a font.
Immediately behind the apse of the cathedral is the Maison d'Adam, a handsome and well preserved half-timbered house (15th-16th C).
David d'Angers Gallery
In the little Gothic church of Toussaint (All Saints) is an exhibition of the complete work of David d'Angers (1788-1856), consisting partly of originals and partly of copies.
A little way east is the Early Gothic bell tower of St-Aubin.