As I have mentioned in previous blog postings, something I began to do immediately upon arriving in Angers was to explore what my new home had to offer. Now, nearly four months into living in France, I have found some favorite places, things to do, and local gems of Angers of which I will be sharing with you today!
During the week, I eat the majority of my meals either at home with my host family or at the school where I teach, however I have found time on weekends or days where I don’t work to try new places to eat around town!
Crêperie La Crémaillère
This Crêperie was the first place we went for dinner during orientation. After trying other crêperies, this one still rests as my favorite. Not only are their gallets and crêpes beyond delicious, but the atmosphere is comfortable and everyone who works there is very kind and welcoming.
An excellent breakfast or lunch place when you are craving a bagel. A good bagel and cream cheese being one of my favorite foods back in Portland, I was excited to find a bagel shop here! They also have delicious coffees and breads such as carrot and banana, as well as providing perfect ambiance for eating with friends or sitting down to do work.
I originally discovered this restaurant during orientation for dinner. Since then, I have eaten there multiple times with friends, as well as once by myself as a treat. The restaurant sits across from the castle so you have a beautiful view and the inside atmosphere is simultaneously lively and warm. Here you can’t go wrong with anything on the menu as everything is delicious, and if you stay for dessert, I highly recommend their chocolate mousse, it is unbeatable.
A place to go if you want a fancy dinner, Gupta’s has a beautiful indoor as well as outdoor balcony overlooking the castle. Their food and service is incredible and on Thursdays they have live jazz night! When I went, they had a mushroom risotto for their special as well as crème brulée, both of which were the most flavorful I’ve ever tasted. They also have their menu staples which include many seafood and charcuterie options.
La Pomme D’argent
I couldn’t list food spots in Angers without including my favorite boulangerie. Located across the river west of the center of town and conveniently close to my host family, they have the best pastries in town. It’s a small family owned business where you’re always greeted with a smile.
I have only been here once, but when missing stereotypical American comfort food, this is the place to go. In the center of Angers, you can find this 1960s themed diner. They have pictures of 60s cars as well as Marilyn Monroe and US presidents of the time. It’s decorated as you might imagine a 60s diner would be, with Elvis hits playing in the background and surprisingly, even a screen where they play movies such as Grease and West Side Story. Their menu consists of the diner classics: burgers, fries, milkshakes and sundaes, and everything is absolutely delicious, tasting just like that of the United States. A very fun experience and I would recommend it.
When it was still warm and sunny outside, this was my favorite place to go for gelato. This little shop is also located in the center of town and has the most delicious gelato, although in all honesty maybe the reason I love it so much is because they serve your gelato in the shape of a flower.
This isn’t a restaurant, raclette is a cheese, and when I tell you I have found my French comfort food in this cheese, it’s true. Raclette is only available during the holiday and winter time, which makes it so special. It’s the perfect time, when it is cold outside and you come home freezing, you quickly prepare the raclette, cook and eat, and it warms your soul. Raclette shares similarity with a fondue, however the preparation is different. When making the raclette, you take a slice of the cheese and put it on this personal sized pan. You then take this pan and put it under this granite slate that is also heating up. The cooking mechanism then melts all of the cheese and begins to grill it, that’s when you know it’s perfect. You eat the cheese over potatoes with salami and raw mushrooms. It’s delicious.
Finding good places to get a coffee and sit down with a book or work was high on my list of must haves in Angers. Having a place to go consistently that is also cozy, makes me feel at home and has the right environment to allow me to get work done has been extremely helpful in my transition to living in Angers as well as giving me a place to do work that is not in my room.
When I went to this cafe it was still nice and warm outside, so that’s where I sat, spending my time reading, people watching, writing letters to my family back home and drinking coffee. I can’t describe a more perfect day to me. Inside of Etienne is large and welcoming with red velvet comfortable seating. If you want to get a pan au chocolate and a coffee, this is the place to go.
The French Coffee Shop
This family owned cafe has become my nearly daily go-to for a great coffee. They are always extremely kind and welcoming and the ambiance is both comfortable and lively. I can sit there for hours doing work, people watching, or reading. They have the classic coffee drinks of course, however they also make smoothies and fun specialty coffees that have way too much sugar in them, but that is what makes them so delicious.
THE FARMER’S MARKET
Going to the farmer’s market, the Marché, was also something I had been looking forward to experiencing in France. The farmer’s market here is open all year long on Saturday mornings, and I absolutely love it. It occupies two blocks of stands filled with fresh fruits, vegetables, seafood, cheese, bread, pasta, olives, dried nuts and fruits, flowers and even escargot! My favorite stand has to be the cheese. In my host family, it is our weekly routine to go every Saturday morning and stock up on fresh food for the week. Always our first stop, the cheese guy recognizes us and gives my host sisters and I free tastings of cheese, and if you are looking for delicious raclette this winter, this is the place to go. This market is open weekly throughout the entire year so not only will you have many chances to go if you are in town, but you will never be deprived of good quality healthy food.
Angers is the perfect place to be if you want a nice combination of a small city with access to nature. On the center of town side of the river, you have the botanical gardens. Unfortunately I cannot speak much to them as I have not been, however I have heard that they are incredibly beautiful. Once you cross the river into La Doutre and walk across the river, the city seemingly transforms to where you forget that you are still in the city. Here you begin with a beautiful walk along the river that turns into nature trails where you can find many birds and even cows! If you don’t feel like walking through nature trails, you can take another path which continues more along the river and transforms into forests. Whichever path you take, no doubt it will be beautiful. When it was warmer out I loved to go on walks along the river and nature trails as it allowed me to take a break and just spend some time by myself, breathing in the fresh air.
Angers is filled with art everywhere from the sculptures you encounter while walking through the city, the murals hidden on buildings, the constant music in the street, the beautiful churches and cathedrals and of course, the museums. A note and fun fact for young people in or who will be in Angers, all museums are free for those under 26 years old!
The Musée Jean-Lurçat is located conveniently near where I am living which also means I have gone three or four times. The building which holds the museum is actually an old hospital from the 12th century, holding the ten tapestries that are the contemporary versions of the apocalyptic tapestry in the Château. When you walk through the museum, you view the tapestries in the order that tells the story and can do this while reading the brochure that breaks down each and every symbolic image within the tapestries. The story and tapestries are beautiful and also incredibly emotional. After this permanent exhibit, the rest of the museum holds more tapestries created by other artists which are also part of their permanent installation. On the exterior of the museum building, you can take a brief walk through the beautiful gardens, and it also would be a great place to sit and read a book, take photos, or sketch!
Muséum des Sciences Naturelles
The first time I went to this museum was during a weekend event in Angers called Journées Européennes du Patrimoine. This event allows free access into all government or publicly owned buildings, for free! One evening my host family and I went to this museum, and it was fascinating as well as unlike museums I’ve been to in the United States. Walking in feels like you’re walking into someone's grand apartment building, and in each of the rooms on the four floors is a different mini exhibit. There are a lot of taxidermied animals as well as fossils, rocks, plants, and information about space! I would highly recommend checking out this museum, especially if you have younger kids or siblings in your life!
Galerie David d’Angers
In complete honesty, I have not yet been to this museum however I plan to while I am here. I have heard many wonderful things about this museum that I would recommend going just based on their word and the photos of the inside that I have seen online.
Being in France but Angers specifically has allowed me to make many day and weekend trips to neighboring cities and towns both with my host family and friends. I am very grateful to be living in Angers as it is extremely easy to explore different cities as everything is just a short train ride away! At the beginning of my stay in Angers, I met up with my host family at the beach in the town of Pornichet located on the coast just two hours away from Angers. Pornichet is stunning with easy access to the beach and coastline walks to neighboring towns! Coming from the Pacific Northwest, the ability to swim in the ocean and not freeze was incredible. More recently, I have been going to visit my friends who are also Andégo assistants in Cholet and Tours, as well as all taking a day trip together to Nantes. It has been fun and interesting to explore nearby cities and what they hold, as well as to see their similarities and differences. I am also extremely grateful to have my friends as travel buddies which for me has made the exploration experience more exciting than if I were to do so alone.
LOCAL GEMS AND ACTIVITIES
One of the things I love so much about Angers is all of the local activities and events they have going on for the public to see or participate in! It feels like Angers is trying to welcome people into the culture and educate as well. One disclaimer however, if you are not a big fan of large crowds, just know that these activities tend to be enjoyed by everyone in the city.
The first event that took place in Angers after I moved here was Les Accroche-Cœrs. This is a music, theater, dance, arts and cultural festival which takes place annually over one weekend in September. It is fun and lively as the streets are filled with music, contortionists, small art exhibitions, marching
bands, lights and dancing!
There are many excellent activities for all ages, and many times they include some level of audience participation which adds to the fun of the day! In addition, on the first night of the festival they have a giant puppet larger than life which they walk around the Jardin du Mail near the center of town. They use this puppet to tell a different story every year that is heartfelt and thought provoking.
The Foire Saint-Martin is a traveling funfair which, similarly to Les Accroches-Cœrs, is an annual event. Taking place in La Doutre across the river from the center of town throughout the month of November, you can go on rides, play games to win prizes and eat cotton candy as well as other yummy treats. I went a couple times with my host family as well as one time by myself to check it out. It’s open every Wednesday and Friday through Sunday from 2pm-2am and is great for all ages! I highly recommend going if you are ever in town in the month of November!
WINTER IN ANGERS
Towards the end of November, the city of Angers - along with every city in France - begins to slowly transform into a city of Christmas. They begin first with putting up lights over nearly every street, then comes the Christmas tree and the assembly of the stalls for the Christmas market, Soleils d’Hiver. By the time December rolls around, everything is open and the city has completely transformed into the picturesque European Christmas market. In the main square in the center of town, the Place du Ralliement, there are Christmas stands far as the eye can see with local and in some cases handmade wooden toys, art, jewelry, soaps and lights, along with stalls where you can find hot spiced wine, hot chocolate, sweet treats, saucisson, soups, sandwiches made with the raclette cheese and my favorite, tartiflette. In their Christmas market they also install a giant carousel and ferris wheel! Experiencing the French Christmas markets in France was also something I was looking forward to before coming and it has exceeded any and all expectations.
I hope you enjoyed reading about some of my Angers favorites so far! It is remarkable how much I have seen and been able to experience in just my first four months here. This is my last blog post for the year of 2022, so I wish you a happy holiday season and I will update you with my next post, next year.