An hour and a half from Paris and 40 minutes from Nantes, you'll find Angers, capital of the Anjou region and home of the House of Plantagenet: the Kings of England back in the 12th century. The gateway to the Loire country, near the vineyards and Chateaux of the Loire Valley, Angers has much to attract visitors, not least some of the best wines in France.
A city steeped in art and history, Angers is a colourful city, with its blue Trélazé slate roofs, white freestone and green parks. Angers is well known for its fresh produce and cut flowers, all of which contribute to this palette of fresh colours.
On the Boulevard Foch, the Maison Bleue will catch the eye: a seven story house covered with blue mosaic tiles in a fabulous show of art deco style. The mighty Château d'Angers, with its 17 colossal towers, is a proper medieval castle which was built in the 13th century for the Dukes of Anjou. Its now dry moat contains fabulous formal gardens. Inside the castle, you can admire the largest medieval tapestry in the world, which is over 100 metres long. The Apocalypse Tapestry, commissioned by Louis I, Duke of Anjou, was preserved in Angers Cathedral. Centuries later it inspired Jean Lurçat to make another apocalyptic tapestry: The Song of the World. This engaged and contemporary work which he started in 1957 begins with the Hiroshima bomb. You can see this and other fascinating works at the Jean-Lurçat & Contemporary Tapestry Museum.
If you're planning to travel to Angers you might want to bring your bike (or hire one there) and set off on a discovery of the Loire Valley. There's even a bicycle festival: "Tous à vélo" bicycle festival in Anjou during which certain roads will be reserved for cyclists only. This is a route which goes from Angers to Saumur, via Fontevraud-l'Abbaye: 140 kilometres in 26 stages. Each village throughout the festival will be cheering as if it were the Tour de France.
Swap your two wheels for four hooves at the National Stud ("Haras National"). The Mondial de Lion is a competition for young horses and their riders: catch a glimpse of the champions of tomorrow.
As the third most important wine region in France, the Anjou region has some fine wines just waiting to be discovered: Savennières, Coteau du Layon, and Saumur-Champigny for example. At the Carré Cointreau you can visit the distillery and taste some of the famous Cointreau liqueur.
Station to station