At the beginning of 2014 I traveled from Austin, Texas to Angers, France, where I lived for four months during a study abroad program. I’d never been to France before (or outside America!), and I knew nothing about Angers before going really, except that it was two hours away from Paris by train.
I discovered is that Angers is the most magical city! It’s a small one, and you can walk from one end to the other in an hour. There are no American chains in the city, save a couple of fast food restaurants. There are people who speak English, but more often they only speak French. There is so much magic and history woven into the city itself, from the foundations to the atmosphere.
Here I rediscovered my inner strength and realized that I have a myth deep inside of me waiting to be created. I recommend stopping in the city to everyone I know, and I have put together this little travel guide for if/when you, darling, are able to make it yourself, but also to give you a small taste of just what this magical city has to offer.
> On a chilled Saturday morning in Angers, there’s only one place you want to be: the market.
A quick walk from any area of the city, both sides of the street — three blocks worth, at least — are covered with white tents and loud vendors selling everything from antiques to shoes to fabric to fresh oysters to produce so fresh and vibrant it almost looks unreal. There are rows and rows of vendors labyrinth-esque layout, all wanting to entice you to buy their items because they are the absolute best. The best way to go through the market is to meander, to buy what looks good (buying a kilo of anything is generally a good rule of thumb to follow in my book), and to grab a crêpe from the one vendor selling them. Give yourself a few hours to take it in the first time, as it is truly a kingdom of riches.
> Visit the botanical gardens.
After the market, walk back through Place du Ralliement, the city’s square, to make your way over to Jardin des Plantes d’Angers . The botanical gardens are breathtaking and well merit a stroll. Take in the beauty all around you, experience the leisure and peace they have to offer. If you feel so inclined, tuck yourself away on one of the benches scattered throughout and write a few pages in your journal. Document whatever comes to mind, or perhaps draw the scene in front of you. Allow the gardens to inspire your hand.
> Sample a simple lunch.
For lunch you’ll make your way two kilometers (give or take) to a different part of Angers for a simple yet delicious lunch at Croc Chaud They have the best döner kebabs in the city, and you can get it on a panini, in a pita, or even in a hamburger bun in a strange tribute to American preferences. Grab a Coke from the fridge after you order and enjoy a warm, affordable meal that will delight your taste buds before venturing back out into the cold.
> Brose the musée.
If you walk about five minutes from Croc Chaud you’ll come across the Musée des Beaux-Arts Pay the entry fee and prepare yourself for a quiet afternoon of beautiful art. The permanent collection is upstairs in the museum, and they house their temporary collections downstairs. Allow yourself to be enchanted by the art, by the experience.
> Wander through the Chateau d’Angers.
No trip to Angers would be complete without a trip to the Chateau d’Angers The castle is a few minutes walk away from Place du Raillement, and if you’re a student you can gain free admission. Spend time wandering through the gardens, the various buildings, reading the plaques and marveling in the fact that the building has stood for hundreds of years. One of the main attractions that the Chateau boasts is the la tenture de l’Apocalypse (the tapestry of the Apocalypse). The tapestry was commissioned by Louis I between 1377 and 1382. All of the panels that are still in existence are in the Chateau, for your viewing pleasure and awe.
> Dine on a boat.
For dinner, you’ll leave the Chateau d’Angers and make your way across the river, to a restaurant called L’Eau a la Bouche It’s a boat, anchored in the river, that serves the best pizza in Angers. I highly recommend the basilic pizza with a glass of the house sangria as your meal, but you truly can’t go wrong with any of their options. Savor the freshly made food and enjoy the view of the river at night, with the lights of Angers glittering on the surface.
> Drink up the magic.
Most of the city closes at 7:00 P.M., only restaurants, pubs, and discotheques staying open. For a quiet end to a magical day, make your way back across the river and towards Place du Raillement, turning into Dublin’s before making it to the square. Order a drink from the owner (my suggestion is to tell him what kind of alcohol you want and have him surprise you), grab a seat either inside or outside on the deck, and reflect on the events of the day. Bask in the feeling of living in a city with so much wonder, magic, and history build into it, just waiting for you to notice that it is there.
Indigo [Spikes and Stardust] is a freelance super heroine, helping amazing small businesses with their virtual existences and inspiring creatives, entrepreneurs, and fellow twenty-somethings to build their own myths. When she isn’t blogging, Indigo is a full-time student, a poet + writer, artist, baker, prolific reader, television + movie lover, and travel junkie.