June 4-5, Angers

It was cold and threatening rain. Shortly after boarding the bus to town a deluge began. Water hammered on the roof and streamed down the windows obscuring the view, sheets of water sprayed 10 meters to the side of the bus as we rolled through ponded streets and woe betide pedestrians, water flowed centimetres deep along the sidewalks and through the bus shelters, and then, just before we stepped off the bus, it stopped. We walked through a light drizzle to a bar for coffee, again unable to get a pastry with it. By the time we stepped back onto the street the sun was out and we were overdressed in our rain jackets and vests. We would no sooner shed a layer than a thick cloud would obscure the sun, a cold wind would bite through our shirts, and just as we put a layer back on, the sun would return.  The city's blue schist and white stone buildings matched the skies, changing from dark and brooding under black threatening clouds and rain, to light and optimistic under billowing, brilliant white punctuated by splashes of blue. The quiet elegance of Place de Ralliement (rallying place) belied its turbulent history. Known during the revolution as Place de la Guillotine, once as Place du Pilori (pillory), it became a rallying place for political protest, for conscripts to be inducted, and for the national guard to assemble, hence its current name. Now pedestrian only, except for the tramway, it is nothing like the gaudy, frenetic,  neon garish, and traffic of Time Square, Piccadilly Circus, or the Ginza, Place de Ralliement was free of traffic, neon, and billboards. Surprisingly, a single large poster of Charlize Theron on the Galeries Lafayette enhanced rather than detracted from the square, much like a piece of public art. The Cathedral Saint-Maurice may dominate Place Sainte-Croix but the oldest house in Angers, the 5- story, 16th Century half-timber Maison d'Adam (originally built as an apothecary and now home to Maison des Artisans d’Angers) attracts much attention. Notable for its carved timber façade, decorated with figures depicting everyday life, people, and folklore. Also known as the House of the Tree of Life, the images of Adam and Eve were destroyed after the revolution. Guide books mention the bawdy figure of a man exposing his buttocks and genitals, but the other carvings present a remarkable portrait of life in medieval times. The ground floor, housed two shops and had a small, arched, wooden door. Inside a narrow stone staircase twisted in a tight spiral to the apartments above. With only about 5'6" headroom it was positively claustrophobic. We found the massive 13th century Château d’Anger, hoping to explore the castle and to view the Tenture de l'Apocalypse (Tapestry of the Apocalypse) only to find it closed for a special commemoration. We wandered the streets, stopping for pizza at a small restaurant. The pizza bore little resemblance to either the North American version or the Neopolitan original but was superb. Light, thin flaky crusts, almost phyllo-like except tender, topped with simple ingredients; the Genovese with ham, chèvre, parsley, and light tomato sauce and the Angevine, with dijon grainy mustard cream sauce, boiled potato, fresh red onion, chives, and lardon. Like our crêpes in Nantes, these were a wonderful revelation. Across town, the 12th century Hôpital Saint-Jean housed the Jean Lurcat and Contemporary Tapestry museum. It held a fascinating display of tapestries designed by Jean Lurçat, his paintings, and his pottery as well as paintings and tapestries by Thomas Gleb. It was a spectacular venue for le Chant du Monde, Lurçat's personal vision of the world, a series of large (up to 4.5 x 13.3 meter), truly impressive tapestries inspired by the Tenture de l'Apocalypse. Behind the museum, the old cloister with its open garden, arched and stone columned arcade, set black schist against white stone creating beautiful patterns and forms. One large piece of schist, embedded in white stone took on the character of a petrified wooden post, while nearby an ornately carved wooden door barred passage. Back across town and after a coffee and beignet break at a lovely English style tea shoppe, we visited the David d'Anger exhibit housed in the even more stunning, renovated 13th Century Abbey of All Saints. The original slate roof replaced with clear glass and the stained-glass windows replaced with contemporary design, flooded the giant vaulted space of the former church with natural light. David d'Anger's monumental work in bronze and marble adorns monuments, buildings, squares, and graveyards around France. His full-size plaster models, some 5 meters high, towered dramatically above visitors while smaller pieces and studies lined the walls. Art students were scattered about, practicing drawing the human figure. Despite the larger than life size of some of the models and the monumental nature of much of the work, the setting allowed for a surprising intimacy when engaging it. The next day we returned to the Château d'Angers. Its 3m thick walls and 17 massive towers surrounded formal gardens, a well preserved 15th century chapel, royal apartments, great hall, and gatehouse. A roof-top herb garden used for medicinal plants and a roof top vineyard used as an early warning monitor for the regional vineyards proved fascinating, but the main attraction was the Tapestry of the Apocalypse.  Commissioned in 1375 to portray the Book of Revelations, the tapestry is the oldest surviving tapestry of its size. Originally comprised of 6 tapestries each measuring 6 meters high and 23 meters long it was badly mutilated in the 1800s and much of what is on display has been restored. The tapestry represented the Book of Revelations in a 14th century context with references to the Hundred years war, 14th century architecture and dress, et cetera and in so doing created a remarkable record of 14th century life. The work was an amazing enterprise, completed in only seven years, and is stunningly presented as a continuous strip along a 100-meter climate-controlled L-shaped room. Sadly, part of the stunning ambiance is the large nearly dark room and low lighting on the tapestries. While necessary to preserve the colours, the low light makes it difficult to appreciate the details of the work.
A Sense of Place:  Travel, Photography, and Photo-art
by David E. Moon
© David E. Moon, 2014  All rights reserved
Slideshow Slideshow Route Map Route Map
View across the Tarn from camp. View across the Tarn from camp. View across the Tarn from camp. View across the Tarn from camp.

June 4-5, Angers

It was cold and threatening rain. Shortly after boarding the bus to town a deluge began. Water hammered on the roof and streamed down the windows obscuring the view, sheets of water sprayed 10 meters to the side of the bus as we rolled through ponded streets and woe betide pedestrians, water flowed centi- metres deep along the sidewalks and through the bus shelters, and then, just before we stepped off the bus, it stopped. We walked through a light drizzle to a bar for coffee, again unable to get a pastry with it. By the time we stepped back onto the street the sun was out and we were overdressed in our rain jackets and vests. We would no sooner shed a layer than a thick cloud would obscure the sun, a cold wind would bite through our shirts, and just as we put a layer back on, the sun would return.  The city's blue schist and white stone buildings matched the skies, changing from dark and brooding under black threatening clouds and rain, to light and optimistic under billowing, brilliant white punctuated by splashes of blue. The quiet elegance of Place de Ralliement (ral- lying place) belied its turbulent history. Known during the revolution as Place de la Guillotine, once as Place du Pilori (pil- lory), it became a rallying place for political protest, for conscripts to be inducted, and for the national guard to assemble, hence its cur- rent name. Now pedestrian only, except for the tramway, it is nothing like the gaudy, frenetic,  neon garish, and traffic of Time Square, Picca- dilly Circus, or the Ginza, Place de Ralliement was free of traffic, neon, and billboards. Sur- prisingly, a single large poster of Charlize Theron on the Galeries Lafayette enhanced rather than detracted from the square, much like a piece of public art. The Cathedral Saint-Maurice may dominate Place Sainte-Croix but the oldest house in Angers, the 5-story, 16th Century half-timber Maison d'Adam (originally built as an apo- thecary and now home to Maison des Artisans d’Angers) attracts much attention. Notable for its carved timber façade, decor- ated with figures depicting everyday life, people, and folklore. Also known as the House of the Tree of Life, the images of Adam and Eve were des- troyed after the revolution. Guide books men- tion the bawdy figure of a man exposing his buttocks and genitals, but the other carvings present a remarkable portrait of life in medi- eval times. The ground floor, housed two shops and had a small, arched, wooden door. Inside a narrow stone staircase twisted in a tight spiral to the apartments above. With only about 5'6" headroom it was positively claustrophobic. We found the massive 13th century Château d’Anger, hoping to explore the castle and to view the Tenture de l'Apocalypse (Tapestry of the Apocalypse) only to find it closed for a spe- cial commemoration. We wandered the streets, stopping for pizza at a small restaurant. The pizza bore little resemblance to either the North American version or the Neopolitan ori- ginal but was superb. Light, thin flaky crusts, almost phyllo-like except tender, topped with simple ingredients; the Genovese with ham, chèvre, parsley, and light tomato sauce and the Angevine, with dijon grainy mustard cream sauce, boiled potato, fresh red onion, chives, and lardon. Like our crêpes in Nantes, these were a wonderful revelation. Across town, the 12th century Hôpital Saint- Jean housed the Jean Lurcat and Contemporary Tapestry museum. It held a fascin- ating display of tapestries designed by Jean Lurçat, his paintings, and his pot- tery as well as paintings and tapestries by Thomas Gleb. It was a spectacular venue for le Chant du Monde, Lurçat's personal vision of the world, a series of large (up to 4.5 x 13.3 meter), truly impressive tapestries inspired by the Tenture de l'Apocalypse. Behind the museum, the old cloister with its open garden, arched and stone columned arcade, set black schist against white stone creating beautiful patterns and forms. One large piece of schist, embedded in white stone took on the character of a petrified wooden post, while nearby an ornately carved wooden door barred passage. Back across town and after a coffee and beignet break at a lovely English style tea shoppe, we visited the David d'Anger exhibit housed in the even more stunning, ren- ovated 13th Century Abbey of All Saints. The original slate roof replaced with clear glass and the stained- glass windows replaced with contemporary design, flooded the giant vaulted space of the former church with natural light. David d'Anger's monumental work in bronze and marble adorns monuments, buildings, squares, and graveyards around France. His full-size plaster models, some 5 meters high, towered dramatically above visitors while smaller pieces and studies lined the walls. Art students were scattered about, practicing drawing the human figure. Despite the larger than life size of some of the models and the monumental nature of much of the work, the setting allowed for a surprising intimacy when enga- ging it. The next day we returned to the Château d'Angers. Its 3m thick walls and 17 massive towers surrounded formal gardens, a well pre- served 15th century chapel, royal apartments, great hall, and gatehouse. A roof-top herb garden used for medicinal plants and a roof top vineyard used as an early warning monitor for the regional vineyards proved fascinating, but the main attraction was the Tapestry of the Apocalypse.  Commissioned in 1375 to portray the Book of Revelations, the tapestry is the oldest surviving tapestry of its size. Originally comprised of 6 tapestries each measuring 6 meters high and 23 meters long it was badly mutilated in the 1800s and much of what is on display has been restored. The tapestry repres- ented the Book of Revelations in a 14th cen- tury context with references to the Hundred years war, 14th century architecture and dress, et cetera and in so doing created a remarkable record of 14th century life. The work was an amazing enterprise, com- pleted in only seven years, and is stunningly presented as a continuous strip along a 100- meter climate-controlled L-shaped room. Sadly, part of the stunning ambiance is the large nearly dark room and low lighting on the tapestries. While necessary to preserve the colours, the low light makes it difficult to appreciate the details of the work.
A Sense of Place:  Travel, Photography, and Photo-art
© David E. Moon, 2014  All rights reserved
Route Map Route Map Slideshow Slideshow
View across the Tarn from camp. View across the Tarn from camp. View across the Tarn from camp. View across the Tarn from camp.