Monday, April 27, 2009
LOIRE VALLEY CHATEAU d'ANGERS
Sunday, April 26, 2009 Angers & The Tapestry
We decided to get an early start this morning since we were not quite sure how long it would take us to drive from Dinard to Angers. We left under overcast skies just before eight o’clock and about half an hour later the sun was out and as we were leaving the Brittany area we received an Irish Blessing in the form of a beautiful rainbow in the western sky.
We pulled into the city of Angers at ten thirty, about two and a half hours for the one hundred fifty mile trip. The roads were dry and well marked, a combination of four lane divided and two lane country roads. We had a four lane divided highway for the first fifty miles to Rennes; then the type of road continued to change back and forth for the next one hundred miles. The changes were general heralded by a round-de-round and a series of bumps on the road to remind us that a change was coming!
The best news was that we were traveling on a Sunday morning and traffic was almost non-existent. When we entered Angers we immediately spotted the Chateau just after we passed the off ramp. I took the next one and then proceeded to head in the direction of the Chateau. The roads led us right into the narrow medieval streets that surround the Chateau and Mary was rather upset with my choices. But, we managed to keep going until I pulled out right across from the Chateau and we were able to park on the street at the entry.
The Chateau d’Angers is very distinctive with its security wall of barrel shaped towers located very close together all around the wall that is surrounded by a mote. Originally built in the ninth century as the Fortress of Saint Louis, the towers had beautiful pointed roofs but they were leveled in the sixteenth century and remain flat topped towers connected with a wall that surround the ruins of the beautiful Chateau and royal gardens used by the Anjou dynasties from the ninth to the twelfth centuries.
Our main reason for visiting Angers was to see the Apocalypse tapestry that is displayed in a specially constructed building within the Fortress with very low light to preserve the delicate material. It was commissioned in 1375 by Louis I, Duke of Anjou. It is exceptional in size being one thousand meters long and four and half meters high. There are seventy scenes surviving today. The tapestry depicts the last book of the Bible, written by Saint John at the end of the first century. It is the oldest surviving tapestry of this size.
We enjoyed watching a large tethered owl on the lawn and then discovered that Mary had lost her hat! Went back through the entire complex and no hat could be found. But as we were leaving they notified us that someone had found the hat and it was waiting for us at the front desk! Another happy ending.