The main artistic sights in Angers are the Apocalypse tapestries. They are significant as being among the oldest tapestries, in series, extant. They were ordered from the producer Nicolas Bataille in 1373 (completed in 1380) by Louis, duke of Angers and brother of the king Charles V. Sketches were made available by Jan Boudolf, an artist in the employ of his brother, king Charles, from a manuscript in the latter’s library. The tapestries were exhibited as part of various celebrations for centuries but were sold in 1782 when considered old fashioned. During the Revolution it was cut up and dispersed as utilitarian coverings. During the 19C, a bishop of Angers, a lover of art, decided to search for and acquire as much of the work as he could find and restore it to the glory of Angers. He found and acquired about 75% of it. Over the ensuing years, they have been repaired and reassembled and today are permanently housed in a special gallery protected from destructive effects of light and air quality.
As an elderly retired scientist, I find the apocalyptic shriek quaint or delusional. I understand and have experienced some of the sufferings that beset mankind during a lifetime, and realize that I live in a privileged and lucky position. The book of the bible is tedious to read end to end, but the tapestries are fascinating and well worth an hour of a sightseer’s life (if you can take it), for they are a literal exposition of the text.
There are seven (the number of perfection) sections each presented by John. Each section is in 2 rows of seven pictures each; some 76 pictures are available.
As you walk in the old town and pass the Beaux Arts Museum you see this tower. It is the 12C belfry of the Benedictine monastery just beyond it, which is worth visiting. It takes only a few minutes to look in and see the fine Romanesque Arcade (our picture is lost).
The nearest buildings are the chapel and the ancient residence. All around us are carefully sculpted gardens and one with hedges in very creative topiary forms. Beyond this area extending to the far wall is the modern exhibition building that houses the great Apocalypse Tapestries. Inside the other buildings there is an entire history of tapestries which you must see in addition to those of the Apocalypse.
The fortress (chateau) of Angers stands forcefully on a promontory overlooking both the river and the city. Its 17 towers may not be as tall as they were when St. Louis (IX) built them but the whole structure still looks impregnable. The deep moat was drained and planted long ago and now is a green pasture for grazing fawn. One enters over the drawbridge into a large interior area with both old and new buildings and fine horticulture (a specialty of Angers).
The nave has three very large bays with tetrapartite vaulting peaking into dome-like centers. This is a very early example of vaulting known as Angevine. The transepts (built a century later) have Rose windows and th vaulting now has a greater number of ribs. There is a fine 19C carved pulpit and a carved set of 18C choirstalls all hung with tapestries. There are many other tapestries mostly Aubusson. At the choir is a statue of Ste. Cecelia by David d'Angers. Note the grand 18C organ at the west end. In addition the stained glass
is from all periods (12-20C).
St.-Maurice is contemporary with Chartres (1150-1270). Its facade is Romanesque trying to become Gothic. It is very tall too and has complete spired towers that are almost identical. It is single aisled , so that its nave is as wide as the larger Chartres. It has a single portal covered with archivolts and with flanking jamb embrasures containing 4x2 column statues, Chartres fashion. The lintel and trumeau were destroyed by an 18C bishop because they obstructed his ceremonial parades through the door. The pointed tympanum shows Christ and the Evangelical symbols (the other Apostles were wiped out on the removed lintel). There is a large window above, but no Rose. Above that there is a gallery with 8 statues 16C of St. Maurice and his fellow soldiers in garb of that time. Nearby is a statue by David d'Angers. (I apologize for the lack of detailed pictures, the flood probably got them; please go here and make them,write them up and tell me).
Both the Chateau and the Cathedral occupyrhe high ground at Angers, the bluff and promintory above the river. The Cathedral faces to the NW, its facade facing directly at the river below. A wide flight of stairs extends down. This area is called the Montee (Ascent) St.-Maurice. It is impossible to miss if you want to enter the cathedral.
Like so many French towns - the best way to see Angers is to go for a stroll...
Chateau d'Angers is a formidable 13th centruy feudal fortress, built by Luis IX - the stuff of little boys dreams. Inside the walls you'll find the royal residence, chapel and the landscaped gardens which date to the 14th & 15th centuries. Chateau d'Angers holds L'Apocalypse which is the oldest tapestry (of it's size - 103m-length) in the world.
Cathedrale St-Maurice is 12th-13th century but the stained glass dates from 12th - 16th centuries and it was in the 16th centurey that the third, central tower was added. St Maurice was a converted Gallo-Roman soldier in the 4th century who was cruelly executed for refusing to kill fellow Christians.
Angers has many old and beautiful houses but the best os Maion d'Adam which is behind the cathedral.
The cathedral itself is built in the Angevin Plantagenet Gothic style. The sculptures surrounding the main entrance are unusual in that they show remnants of their original polychrome painting.
These carvings are in the Charrtes style and were made between 1170 and 1180 BCE. The top image is of the tympanum. The bottom image is of the apostles and is found to the left of the main doorway.
The musée Jean Lurçat et de la tapisserie contemporaine is located in the ancien hôpital Saint-Jean, one of the oldest in France: it was built between 1174 and 1186. The salle des malades ("room of patients"), built in 1181 and used until 1854, hosts works by Jean Lurçat (1892-1966), in particular ten tapestries forming the Chant du Monde ("Song of the World").
I enjoyed this museum very much, but unfortunately it was forbidden to photograph. This pic has been taken from the site of the city hall.
The Maine River bisects the city of Angers and connects to the Loire river a few miles south of Angers. There are numerous quays that border the river and three main bridges that cross it; Pont de la haute Chaine, Pont de Verdun and Pont de la basse Chaine. This is the Quay Eric Tabarly on which I sit in this picture playing a guitar a bought in Angers for 75 euros at a local shop.
The cathédrale de Saint-Maurice is a Gothic church dating back to the 12th-13th centuries. The facade has two lateral towers and a lower one in the middle that was built in 1533-40. The portal is very richly decorated with Romanesque sculptures. Unfortunately, I couldn't see all these beauties because the facade was being restored.
The inside is worth visiting for the tapestries and the precious windows. One can also visit the treasure, but I didn't because I mainly went to the mass here and I never visited the church thoroughly.
The jardin du Mail is a very beautiful park right in the centre of Angers. I think it can be ideally divided into two quite different parts: the urban one and the wild one.
This tip shows you the urban part, with park benches, statues, flowerbeds: the intervention of man is evident. If you do like this face of the jardin du Mail, please do not sit down on a bench, have a rest, and go away: you would miss the wild part, which is maybe more beautiful.
The tapisserie de l'Apocalypse ("Apocalypse tapestry") is a series of 75 scenes (there were 98 originally) from Saint John the Apostle's Apocalypse, the last book of the Bible. It was made by Parisian artist Nicolas Bataille between 1373 and 1380 on paintings by Hennequin de Bruges. It is 13 metres long and 4.50 metres high; it was restored in 1843.
I took some photos but unfortunately the quality is not the best because it was forbidden to use flash and I was using a normal camera.
Here in Place de l'Academie there are several things to do. It's just a stone's throw away from the Chateau d'Angers and in view of the Statue de Roi Rene. One can see towering above the square, the Cathedrale St. Laud. Facing the cathedral, to your left, is, in this order, Bar de l'Academie, a boulangerie and an epicerie. One of my favorite things to do was to come here for an alternative breakfast before class (instead of three day old baguettes in the cafeteria). I would buy a piece of fruit at the epicerie, a croissant at the boulangerie and then une tasse de cafe at the Bar de l'Academie and then sit outside the Bar and enjoy the cool summer morning air. On the opposite side of the square, in front of a small ecole for children, there is another odd feature: one of the famous curbside urinals.