Friday, November 7, 2008

Chateaux and Churches

Our next day was spent visiting the various chateaux and churches in and around Angers. Here's the newer section of Angers, busy with clothing stores, pastry shops, electronic centers and various other boutiques selling everything from chocolate to scarves.

Which one of these desserts would you pick?

First stop was the church of Notre-Dame des Victoires in Angers.

Another Gothic masterpiece, it was one of the few Gothic cathedrals that was well-lit. Here's a shot looking down the nave.

Next stop was the public park/gardens of Angers. These neoclassical gardens were perfect to explore on a sunny day. A fountain in the center.

Looking down the main "thoroughfare".

Neoclassical statue of a female deity (not sure which one) surrounded by plants. If you notice, there's even Swiss Chard planted there!

Another view.

Next stop was the Cathedral of Sainte Joseph.

Here's a fresco in the transept showing a priest being led to the guillotine.

A picture of the enormous Rose window.

The stained glass in this church was truly spectacular. This panel depicts the marriage of Mary and Joseph.

Our host Mrs. Le Gal then drove us outside Angers to the Château du Plessis-Bourré. This château was finished in 1472 by Jean Bourré, an advisor to the King. It is completely surrounded by a moat and accesible only by a draw-bridge. Zoom in if you want and read the little sign I'm holding.

Another shot of the opposite wall showing some of the towers.

There were several swans swimming in the moat including one black one.

Pictures weren't allowed inside the Château so I only got a few. This is one of the rooms, still complete with original furnishings.

The great hall where meals were held in wintertime. It had all the classic elements - massive stone walls, a large fireplace, and vaulted ceilings. Can you imagine rushes on the floor and a jester in the corner?

A carved Spanish oak armoir.

The owner's bedroom. This bed was made out of Spanish pieces taken from a baldacchino and altar.

Some books in the library that belonged to Napoleon.

The Château chapel.

This is the (still functional) drawbridge. There's a stone bridge which crosses the moat right up to the drawbridge. Those two big beams support a counterweight by which it is raised and lowered. All it takes is one man on either end to raise it. The guide raised it for us, which was pretty impressive! Above the little entry way was a trap through which projectiles and boiling oil could be poured on attackers if they managed to break through the portcullis.

This picture shows the guardhouse, and the stone bridge leading up to the château. You can see the moat is pretty large.

Our next destination was the Castle of Angers itself. There has been a fortification of some type here since the time of the Romans due to the strategic location of the site, along the Maine River and on high ground. These are two of the 17 towers which protect the more than 2,000 feet of walls. The castle has served many purposes during its long history, including seeing the foundation of a military academy within its walls at one point. Ironically, the Duke of Wellington who would later defeat Napoleon at Waterloo attended the Academy here.

The gardens inside the fortress.

Looking out across the Maine River to the town of Angers. You can see that the roofs are all covered with slate tiles, a famous product of the quarries in the region.

The gatehouse and entry to the castle.

We were able to walk along the entire length of the ramparts from tower to tower. Thanks to its excellent position and strong defenses the castle has never been taken by enemy forces in its entire history.

Today the castle houses a museum with an enormous tapestry depicting scenes from the Apocalypse. The amount of detail on the panels was incredible, down to the French lilies being depicted on the wings of butterflies. Unfortunately it was so dark that I couldn't take any decent pictures. This is the only one that turned out.

In contrast to the new section of the town, this is the historic quarter of Angers. Cobbled streets surrounded by tall buildings and not much going on......

We found a good creperie for lunch. Grandpop, they weren't nearly as good as polichinkies though.

There are a lot of chocolate boutiques in Angers......

This is the interior of the church of Saint Laud. I hope you can get an appreciation for the size and grandeur of the place.

Biblical scenes were on tens of panels of stained glass. This one is the return of the prodigal son.

A picture of the rather drab stone walls being illuminated by the colored light shining through the stained glass.

This panel tells the story of a relic of the True Cross being brought back from Jerusalem to Angers.

Evidently Tom Monaghan has left his mark on Angers as well. Gotta love the pizza delivery scooters!

1 comment:

DelGrosso said...

I would pick the ones with the most chocolate, and nuts! They all look delicious. How beautiful Angers is. My favorite pictures are: the fountain in the garden at Angers, the photo of the thoroughfare at Angers, the chateau with Anthony in the foreground , and the fresco of the priest heading to the guillotine. The tapestry appears to be very beautiful and intricate. It is very difficult to believe that all of Europe is not Catholic with such beauty everywhere.