Angers is the prefecture of Maine et Loire the modern departement which roughly coincides with the ancient dukedom of Anjou, effectively its capital. It is part of the large and varied region of Pays de la Loire with its main town of Nantes. Like Anjou the region of Pays de la Loire is very different depending where you are, from the resorts, oyster beds and ports on the Atlantic Coast to the inland Loire of wine, chateaux and history. One thing is certain however and that is that for the rest of France the region is one which the French themselves love and think is the best place to live. For several years now both Nantes and Angers have had the annual accolade of having, “La mieux vivre en France”, the best life in France. For the last three years a survey, carried out by the French daily L’Expresse, has rated Angers the best with Nantes the second. Every year the survey uses 24 different criteria to reach it’s decision including things like greenspace, transport, health, leisure, crime and the general solidarity of its population. It is very difficult to find one major reason but, for us the mildness of the climate and the way that we normally seem to avoid extremes of storms, hail, floods etc. is very important. For example, this year thousands of hectares of vines have been destroyed throughout famous French Wine Appellations such as Bordeaux, Burgundy and Champagne whilst here in the Saumur and Anjou we are looking forward to a 2014 Loire Vintage which the president of the winemakers association has called, “presque parfait” – almost perfect. As storms and heavy hailstorms hit both North and South the meteorologist on TV explained the Anjou had escaped and, as always, was, “between the two”.
I have often mentioned the “Douceur Angevine”, the terms used to describe life in general in Anjou and which literally means the sweetness of life. The term is far from being a myth and refers not just to the climate but to the general easy going, gentle way of life and the pleasant, pretty countryside fertile and full of livestock, crops and vines. And through it all rolls the mighty Loire with it’s own riverside towns and chateaux and which effectively links the whole of this lovely region.
Angers itself has always been one of our favourite towns: clean, vibrant, dripping with history, full of museums and art galleries which reflect an intellectual side emanating from it’s famous university. Add in the literally hundreds of bars, restaurants and theatres and it’s ongoing calendar of music both classic and modern and it’s very difficult to beat. But, for all that, we would say that,for us, our pretty wine village of Le Puy Notre Dame with it’s gothic church, it’s vineyards and it’s position on both the Route du Vin and the Pilgrim’s route to St. Jacques de Compostelle is of course “the best of the best” but, being unashamedly biased, we would say that wouldn’t we and we are proud to think of ourselves as adopted “angevin”
Brian and Sheila