It has been about six weeks since I moved to Angers, France (which is pronounced like Ahn-zjay) and it has been quite a cultural shift from what I was used to Texas. My french language skills are improving, my affinity for fancy cheese is sharpening, and my comfort zone was checked at the border.
On my first day in France, I went to visit Château d’Angers, which is a 9th century castle located along the Maine river. Once upon a time this castle had a moat (with a drawbridge and everything!), but today there are beautifully manicured gardens in its place.
Château d’Angers also houses the medieval Tapestry of the Apocalypse. At 328 feet long, it is intricately handwoven and tells the story of the Apocalypse from the Book of Revelation in the New Testament.
Angers is quite beautiful. It is a pedestrian-friendly city; to get anywhere, you only need your feet. This is very nice! Not only is it a good for the health, but as a traveler you are forced to take in the city through all of your senses. The sights, the smells, the sounds: it is all so surreal.
My friend Emily, standing at one corner of a seven way intersection. The road system is confusing and has been difficult getting used to. When I first arrived in Angers, I got lost several times. I get better at navigating the city every day, paying close attention to landmarks because the street signs are not uniformly displayed.
This is my friend Ysenia, who is working towards broadcasting a radio show from Angers back to Austin. More information on that later!
My french teacher in high school always said, ad nauseam, “You’ve never had bread until you’ve been to France.” As soon as I arrived in France, I realized that she had a point. Every time that I am feeling homesick, I just buy a croissant from the nearest boulangerie and remind myself that I really can’t get bread like that back home.
One afternoon, me, Emily, and our friend Ryan walked (snuck) into Le Grand Théâtre, which is exactly what the name implies: located in the city center, it is the premier facility for fine arts performances. No one told us to leave so we explored every level of the building (which was erected in the late 16th century). It was quite an experience to be in such an incredible theatre when it was empty. I can only imagine what it is like when the house is full.
If I could pick a color to describe Angers, I would choose the stone gray color of the cobblestone streets and building façades. There is not grass anywhere throughout the city unless you venture to one the parks scattered throughout. Jardin des Plantes is one of those parks and very close to where I live.
This is my friend Andrea, who runs a videoblog called Le Petit Traveler in which she chronicles her adventures throughout Europe. Check it out!
While it is tempting to lay out a romantic French picnic of wine and cheese on the lush grass, sitting on the lawn is strictly prohibited. Fortunately, there are many benches to choose from, and it is a very beautiful place to pass time reading or writing or simply relaxing.
My favorite thing about Angers, by far, is the city wide farmer’s market. Every Saturday morning, vendors from the surrounding areas of Angers set up shop starting in the center of the city and down every alleyway to sell their fruits, vegetables, meat, cheese, and breads.
The goods don’t just stop at food, either: while out you can pick up persian rugs, vintage furniture, Italian leather jackets, secondhand books, jewelry, gemstones, homemade soaps, and more. It seems as if the entire city wakes up early Saturday morning to attend. I tried to take more pictures, but it was so crowded that I was in someone’s way each time I stopped to focus my camera.
Another park in Angers is Parc de Balzac. Ysenia and I wandered the grounds for a while and found surprises at every turn: interesting fruit, patches of flowers, small bridges, a forest of willow trees, and (!!!) a herd of yaks. With the exception of the occasional jogger, we were the only people on trails that afternoon. We felt as if we had stumbled across a little secret.
In conclusion, the past few weeks in France have been so incredible that I’ll be sad to say goodbye come January. I love the cheese, the wine, all the new people I’m meeting, and (especially) the change in scenery. I’m also loving how cheap and easy it is to travel within Europe now that I’m on the continent. My next photoroll will be covering the time I spent in London – so stay tuned!