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The Château d'Angers (daily: May–Aug 9.30am–6.30pm; Sept–April 10am–5.30pm; 5.50) is a formidable early medieval fortress whose sense of impregnability is accentuated by the darkness of the western Anjou schist with which it is built, offset by pale bands of tufa. The kilometre-long curtain wall is further reinforced by seventeen circular towers like elephants' legs gripping the rock below. Inside there are a few miscellaneous remains of the counts' royal lodgings and chapels, but the immediate and obvious focus is the Tapestry of the Apocalypse, whose 100-metre length (of an original 140m) is displayed in a modern gallery, lit dimly in order to protect the vivid red, blues and golds of its woollen threads. Woven between 1373 and 1382 for Louis I of Anjou, it would have been used to deck out the cathedral of Angers on major festival days, and takes as its text St John's vision of the Apocalypse, as described in the Book of Revelation. A Bible would come in handy, since the English booklet on sale just sketches the outline of events. The vision is of the lead-up to the Day of Judgement signalled by seven angels blowing their trumpets. After this...

hail and fire mingled with blood were cast upon the earth and the third part of trees was burned up and all green grass and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea and the third part of the sea became blood

(Rev. 8:7–8)

The battle of Armageddon rages, as Satan, "the great red dragon" (depicted with seven heads), and his minions of composite animals mark their earthly followers. The holy forces retaliate by breaking the seven vials of plagues. It all ends with heavenly Jerusalem, and Satan buried for a thousand years. The slightly flattened medieval perspective has a hallucinatory quality, extraordinarily beautiful and terrifying, evoking the end of the world either in accordance with the first-century text or as a secular holocaust.

If you can take in anything else after that, there are more tapestries, of a gentler nature, in the sporadically open Royal Lodgings and Governor's Lodge within the castle. Those feeling in need of a drink can head straight out of the castle and into the Maison du Vin de l'Anjou, 5bis place Kennedy (March–Dec Tues–Sat 9am–1pm & 3–6.30pm, Sun 9am–1pm), where the very professional and helpful staff will offer you wine to taste before you buy, and provide lists of wine-growers to visit.


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