History, from Roman, Viking and medieval times through the Revolutionary era, stalks the atmosphere-laden cobbled streets of Angers, yet, with a large student population, a brand-new tramway system and all the modern amenities, it's a thoroughly contemporary city too.
Angers is a very walkable city, although it’s also inordinately proud of its new tramway system, completed in 2011 with some 25 stops. A 15-kilometre B line will open in 2015. To avoid overhead lines through the centre of Angers and its Avrillé suburb, a revolutionary ground-level power supply has been used for part of the route. The tramway supplements existing bus services, which use efficient and well-maintained vehicles. Taxis are freely available and metered.
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Top 5 sights for first-timers
Opened in 2010 and with its plants now coming into their best, Terra Botanica is dedicated to fostering a discovery and understanding of plant life and the ways in which humanity interacts with it. Designed to be great fun, as well as educational, this quality theme park features various rides and attractions, as well as an eco-friendly restaurant who claims to serve 100% fresh, 100% natural and 100% French produce.
Route de Cantenay Epinard
Strategically set on a rocky bluff overlooking the broad Maine River, the Château d’Angers was begun in the 9th century by the Counts of Anjou and expanded to its present size 400 years later. While it subsequently partly fell into ruin, the castle’s formidable round towers are mostly intact as are the central residential portions which today provide a display space for the outstanding Apocalypse Tapestry, completed in 1382 but with its colours still remarkably intact.
2 promenade du Bou du Monde
Book a guided walking tour of the OldTownthrough the tourist information office and take in the cathedral, the cobbled streets and the picturesque Adam’s House, with its ornately carved facade. Learn of the English royal connections and the slate industry, which earned Angersits early fortune and the sobriquet ‘The Black City’.
Office de Tourisme d’Angers, 7 place Kennedy
Galerie David d’Angers
Born Pierre-Jean David (1788-1856), David d’Angers was an inspired sculptor, ranking with the likes of Rodin. The gallery is like a roll call of the great and good Frenchmen of his age and earlier. The spectacular collection is housed in the former Toussaint Abbey.
33 bis rue Toussaint
This chapter church has stood for more than 1,000 years, dating back to the Carolingian era – but recent digs have revealed a much longer history, with brickwork and artefacts dating back to the Roman era. Bizarrely, this summer the knave has been the setting for an exhibition of Tour de France winning bicycles.
23 rue Saint-Martin
Top 5 sights for old hands
Musée Jean-Lurçat et de la Tapisserie Contemporaine
The famed Bayeux Tapestry is not a tapestry at all but an embroidery. Learn the difference here and marvel at some amazing workmanship. All the greats of this very French art form are on display while the soaring vaulted ceiling is breathtaking in its sheer majesty.
4 boulevard Arago
At the distillery which still produces the famed orange liqueur, discover the secrets of the Cointreau family’s 130 years of success. Vast showcases display former products of the company, posters and other memorabilia. At the end of the visit, savour a tasting of exciting new cocktails based on the product.
Saint Barthélémy d’Anjou
Château de Brissac
Set in 80 hectares of parklands just a short drive from Angers, this seven-storey stately pile is the tallest chateau in France. It has been home to the dukes of Brissac since 1502 and contains an impressive array of artworks, tapestries and furniture as well as having remarkably ornate painted ceilings. Visitors can view drawing rooms, galleries, bedrooms, kitchens and vaulted cellars.
Puy du Fou
Already attracting 1.5 million visitors a year, this medieval theme park in the historic Vendée region of western France– an easy drive from Angers– is an unforgettable family attraction with a whirlwind of extraordinary shows.
Musée Régional de l’Air
Arrive at the airport for your return flight with an extra hour to spare and invest it wisely just across the street at this fascinating nostalgic collection, staffed by knowledgeable and enthusiastic volunteers who have lovingly restored more than 40 historic aircraft, including the plane in which René Gasnier made the first flight in Anjou, back in 1908.
Angers Loire Aéroport
Written by World Travel Guide