An industrialized city of approximately 150,000 people (around 250,000 with the metropolitan area), it occupies rising ground on both banks of the Maine, which are united by three bridges. The surrounding district is famous for its flourishing nurseries and market gardens. Pierced with wide, straight streets, well provided with public gardens, and surrounded by ample, tree-lined boulevards, beyond which lie new suburbs, Angers is one of the pleasantest towns in France. It is a fresh-food and flower-market center. The city traces its roots to early Roman times. The site of a massive and ancient Chateau, the city is also noted for the impressive twin-spired, 12th-century Cathedral of Saint-Maurice , dating in the main from the 12th and 13th centuries.
Of the other churches of Angers, the principal are St. Serge, an abbey-church of the 12th and 15th centuries, and La Trinité (12th century). The prefecture occupies the buildings of the famous abbey of St. Aubin; in its courtyard are elaborately sculptured arcades of the 11th and 12th centuries, from which period dates the tower, the only survival of the splendid abbey-church. Ruins of the old churches of Toussaint (13th century) and Notre-Dame du Ronceray (11th century) are also to be seen. The ancient hospital of St. Jean (12th century) is occupied by an archaeological museum; and the Logis Barrault, a mansion built about 1500, contains the public library, the municipal museum, which has a large collection of pictures and sculptures, and the Musée David, containing works by the famous sculptor David d'Angers, who was a native of the town. One of his masterpieces, a bronze statue of René of Anjou, stands close by the castle. The Hôtel de Pincé or d'Anjou (1523-1530) is the finest of the stone mansions of Angers; there are also many curious wooden houses of the 15th and 16th centuries. The palais de justice, the Catholic institute, a fine theatre, and a hospital with 1500 beds are the more remarkable of the modern buildings of the town. Angers is the seat of a bishopric, dating from the 3rd century, a prefecture, a court of appeal and a court of assizes. It has a tribunal of first instance, a tribunal of commerce, a board of trade-arbitrators, a chamber of commerce, a branch of the Bank of France and several learned societies.
A center of learning, Angers boasts two renowned universities and several high schools, adding up to more than 30,000 students. Its educational institutions include ecclesiastical seminaries, a lycée, a preparatory school of medicine and pharmacy, a university with free faculties (facultés libres) of theology, law, letters and science, a higher school of agriculture, training colleges, a school of arts and handicrafts and a school of fine art. Its education and research institutes are the driving force behind the city's science and technology industries. Angers calls itself the most flowered city in Europe. It is also well-known for being the seat of important cultural events, like the film festival Premiers Plans, Tour de Scènes (free concerts in the streets) or Les Accroche-Coeurs .
The prosperity of the town is largely due to the great slate-quarries of the vicinity, but the distillation of liqueurs from fruit, cable, rope and thread-making, and the manufacture of boots and shoes, umbrellas and parasols are leading industries. The weaving of sail-cloth and woollen and other fabrics, machine construction, wire-drawing, and manufacture of sparkling wines and preserved fruits are also carried on. The chief articles of commerce, besides slate and manufactured goods, are hemp, early vegetables, fruit, flowers and live-stock.
The first sign of human presence on the site of Angers is a stone tool dated back to 400,000 B.C (Lower Paleolithic). The earliest known inhabitants were the Andecavi , a Gallic tribe that was overrun by the Romans. The city was under the Romans called Juliomagus.
Once the capital of the historic province of Anjou, beginning in the 9th century, the city and the region was run by a powerful family of feudal lords. In the 12th century, it became part of the Angevin empire of the Plantagenet Kings of England. During this time, the Hospital of Saint-Jean was built in Angers by King Henry II of England. The edifice still stands to this day and houses an important museum. In 1204, it was conquered by King Philippe II.
It suffered severely from the invasions of the Northmen in 845 and the succeeding years, and of the English in the 12th and 15th centuries; the Huguenots took it in 1585, and the Vendean royalists were repulsed near it in 1793. Till the Revolution, Angers was the seat of a celebrated university founded in the 14th century.
The city is the birthplace of:
- Rene I of Naples (1409-1480)
- Jean Bodin (1529-1596), philosopher and jurist, author of "La République "
- Michel Eugène Chevreul, (1786-1889), chemist
- Georges Louis Leclerc, (1707 - 1788), naturalist author
- Joseph Louis Proust, (1754 - 1826), chemist responsible for "Proust's law "
- David d'Angers , (1788 - 1856), sculptor
- Edouard Cointreau , (1849 - 1923), creator of the "Cointreau" orange-flavoured liquor
- René François Nicolas Bazin (1853 - 1932), writer and educator
- André Bazin (1918-1958), critic of the French New Wave
- Henri Dutilleux (born 1916), composer
- Official Angers website - http://www.angers.fr/
- Université d'Angers - http://www.univ-angers.fr/
- Université Catholique de l'Ouest - http://www.uco.fr/
- English-language library in Angers - http://perso.wanadoo.fr/amerlibangers/main_us.htm