Angers and the Loire Valley

Here is the first in a series of posts about our 10 day trip to France.  Catherine was attending the prestigious PREMUS conference which I’m told has something to do with injuries at work or some such, and I was there to travel and relax because I haven’t had enough travel or relaxation in the past year.  The conference itself was in Angers which is a medium sized city in the Loire Valley located about 2 hours west of Paris by train.  While officially in the Loire Valley the city itself is situated beside the River Maine which is France’s shortest river at only 12km long and it drains into the Loire a short distance south of the city.

While Catherine was schmoozing and learning I had the tough job of checking out the city under bright blue skies and temperatures in the mid 20s (leaving Sweden we were already in autumn mode so it was great to get some extra summer).  I’ll let the pictures do most of the talking since I’m not feeling very ‘wordy’ at the moment.

Chateau Angers in the background is the big castle landmark in town. The statue is of Rene of Anjou who was the Duke from 1434–1480 and was born in the castle. The statue is right in the middle of a busy intersection but not in a sensible traffic circle way - it looked rather confusing but the locals seemed to have it all figured out.
The castle moat has now been turned into a classical French garden. Apparently they never put water in the moat but the castle was never breached by forceful means nonetheless.
The castle's inner courtyard is now a series of gardens including it's own little vineyard.
A big church seen from the castle walls. The density of churches everywhere we went in France was astounding especially given the size of the populations when they were built. I wonder what percentage of the population back then was devoted just to building churches. I haven't been to Italy so it may be even more so, but France must surely have one of the highest 'big-church per capita' rates in the world.
The River Maine
Saint Maurice Cathedral is the most impressive church in town
Walls built of slate were a common sight. Apparently it is easy to obtain in the area and was a main component in the makeup of the castle walls.
This is the view potential invaders would have encountered as they made their way up the Maine (minus the 20th century bridge).
One of many great gardens for people to hang out in and enjoy the sunshine
More flowers
I had several lunches similar to this: baguette, tomatoes, Brie, grapes, wine and sunshine. Life was rough.
I thought this house looked pretty neat so I took a picture. Later I found out that it had some historical significance, but have since forgotten what it was.
Someone's personal grapevine jumped over the backyard wall within reach of passing pedestrians.
We didn't eat at this restaurant, but we did check out the menu. Definitely not what your traditional 'french food', more hearty and less arty with liberal use of maple syrup.

The final day of the conference was only a half day so seven of us rented bikes and rode the trails along the Maine to the Loire and checked out some of the contryside and small towns.  Even though Angers isn’t a metropolis, it was a lot of fun to get ‘away from it all’ and check out the real countryside.  We talked about how it would be great to spend a couple weeks biking around the country – maybe one day!

An outdoor church in the tiny town of Béhuard on a small island surrounded by the Loire.
A vineyard in the sleepy little town of Savennières
Biking back north towards Angers
Catherine petting a native species of donkey. In the Balzac park they are starting to raise some native animals starting with cows and donkeys. There were two of them on the other side of the fence and it didn't take much convincing for them to come over and get fed the greener grass from the other side.


  1. That does look like it was a tough week for you, Graham!
    I ♥ summer … I do hope we get a few last tastes of that warmth here before the snow sets in…

  2. Great group of shots: the modern uses for moats are much friendlier than of old, and yes, that lunch looks rough. We’re feeling your pain. 😉 I saw the temps in Gavle and am glad you both had another dose of warm. I guess a donkey would be a reasonable substitute for local kitties. Did the Harley-biker helmets come with your bicycles?

  3. I laughed at ‘feeling your pain’ as ‘pain’ is French for bread. Not sure if that was intentional or not but I thought is was funny.

    Yes the bikes came with optional helmets and since most of the group (except me) are safety professionals it seemed like the right thing to do.

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