A day in Angers is a quick and easy change of scenery for a rainy day after a few weeks in Nantes and many trips to several seaside towns on the Atlantic coast. It’s only a 40-minute train ride but you’re still stepping into a different world—to a trained French eye, the buildings, the history, the atmosphere and the food are completely different.
It’s another département, for a start. Nantes is département 44, Loire-Atlantique, while Angers is département 49, Maine-et-Loire. I know, to-may-to-mah-to, départements are just arbitrary administrative subdivisions. The bottom line is that Angers is definitely not part of Brittany and Nantes kind of is, culturally and historically speaking (depends on whom you ask, it’s a touchy issue around here).
Both cities have a castle, but the one in Angers is massive. Both cities also have very old cathedrals and tons of churches but again, the ones in Angers are bigger, and sometimes older (like, really old). In Nantes, mascarons (faces carved in stone) adorn façades, it’s one of the visible legacies of the slave trade period. Angers still has quite a few beautiful medieval half-timbered houses with wood left exposed and there are many references to King René, Duke of Anjou and Count of Provence from 1434 to 1480, a historical figure virtually unknown in modern Nantes history.
And I’m guessing, people in Angers love macarons and chocolate, considering the number of fancy bakeries offering them.
Angers seemed to be a dynamic city before 2020, but the pandemic must have hit it hard because I noticed many closed businesses and vacant commercial spaces. It’s still a nice place to explore with many pedestrian streets and lovely views from the river.Share this article!