31 December, 2011

Happy "News" Year Angers

At the heart of Angers, a place sums up the difficulties some Angers inhabitants, as many others in France as well as abroad, faced in 2011 and fears on the eve of 2012. The news kiosk located at the top of Ralliement square is, as well as France and even international economy, at risks. Its owner warned he could stop his business because the kiosk is not set up at the right place : near the trolley, where travellers who are also customers stand. The news kiosk could miss turnover opportunities if a change does not take place in the weeks to come.

The Angers town hall is reluctant to change the place of the news kiosk. That would be an important change in the organization of Ralliement square. Almost the municipal authority would accept to change the orientation of the kiosk, turning its entrance toward the trolley line instead of turning its back to it. Like many private companies, a change of direction would be welcome but States don't want to hear of it.

A change of public stance regarding the news kiosk would be appropriate but public authorities are reluctant to step down in front of private interests which are, in that specific case : a job. So through the news kiosk, many people in Angers should have in mind the necessity of business as a difficult, tough and often cruel but unique way to go ahead. Angers Daily News wishes its readers to go ahead in 2012 with growth and jobs which give confidence and hope. This is not sufficient of course but it's necessary. Happy New Year!

30 December, 2011

Angers hosts one of the new France Free Center

The French internet, tv and and telephone operator Free opened a few days ago a store in Plantagenet Street. That "Free Centre" is one of the first opened by the company all over France with Laval, Rouen, Le Havre and Troyes. The decision is linked to the wish of Free to increase its market share in the mobile phone along Orange, Bouygues or Sfr. All the sores range in a circle distant between 50 and 200 km from Paris.

The design of the store looks to the one of the Apple store, located at Ralliement square : at the same time sober and bright, even minimalist. The visitors see nothing but the display of the Free services. One may ask why Angers was chosen by the company to host one of its first stores. According to marketing companies, Angers would sum-up the main characteristics of French consumption trends. For that reason, a French marketing company, Marketing Scan, had already chosen more than ten years ago Angers to realize surveys ordered by their ordering parties.

That opening is reassuring for Angers down town because it could reflect its attractiveness in spite of the difficulties to park cars, and in the Plantagenet Street especially where a hifi distributor stated it was endangered by the decrease of its turnover. Free could plan to open one hundred Free Centres in the month to come.

29 December, 2011

The municipal campaign on enrollment of new voters may not have caught its target

Within a few hours, the deadline to be registered on the electoral roll in order to be able to vote in 2012 will be over. After an ill inspired ads campaign with billboards in Angers streets dedicated to young people, town hall indicated on its website that these could be registered up to saturday. The internet page indicates that the right to vote is open to French as well as Union European citizens but quotes the endless sentence : "To vote is a right, but it's also a civic duty" (without telling what is its origin).

 But, what are the results of such efforts? Curiously, the city website doesn't give any information. The local newspaper Ouest-France wrote "Usually, at Angers town hall, the latecomers flock during the last days of December... But, this year, the counters are not invaded by citizens of last minute". A little more indicative "impact" of the municipal campaign on potential voters is given by a town hall employee : "The number of enrollments this year is comparable to the number of 2006, year of presidential elections". In other words, the billboards over the city didn't touch their target.

Credit : Angers city
French newspapers published recently analysis about the involment of towns in the promotion of enrollment. It is said that left municipalities did more important effort to catch new voters, above all young voters who have the reputation to vote for left candidates...

28 December, 2011

Ordinariness is on the tracks for 2012

The invitation recently sent by Angers town hall about the New Year ceremony planned at the Le Quai theatre on January 5th reflects the economic, social and even psychological downward trend the inhabitants are following. Three pictures of Angers travellers in the new trolley are symbolic of the common behaviour of a part of the population.

On the top of the invitation, a picture shows a child, smiling to a passenger. That would not be objectionable if the little boy didn't have its feet on the seat. The education to respectful use of public facilities in daily life may not worry the mother of the child. The inner equipments of the trolley will suffer such little misuses and their maintenance will cost. 

On the middle of the card a father and his daughter are side by side looking at each other. The girl wears headphones, the symbol of a withdrawal of youth increasingly shut to the human environment. Both are dressed in sweat suits, an iconic garment of ordinariness of an increasing number of French people. 

While the Angers agenda encouraged inhabitants to be proud of their city, the New Year card will not make the city proud of its inhabitants.

27 December, 2011

With its 2012 agenda, Angers bets on the best

All the official documents of a city having more or less the same size than Angers are scarcely the result of chance. The new agenda 2012 released today by town hall is not an exception to that obvious fact. The front page and the last page of the agenda, which are the most seen by the users, sum up, maybe unvoluntarily the goals of Angers town hall wants to implant in the mind of Angers inhabitants.

"Pround to be Angevins" reads the 1st page. With that slogan, the city bets its citizens are its best ambassadors. The sentence could stimulate self confidence of people because their city doesn't lack valuable assets. But the last page is almost as important as the front page. Angers claims its desire to be linked by the recipents of the agenda to the Loire Valley landscapes classified by Unesco as a world heritage. So in the brand, "Angers Loire Valley", Angers is united to the historical river, which itself refers to the valley, also called "France's garden". Thus the city is wisely associated, thanks to an English word, to an historical "valley" and therefore is localizable and identifiable by English speaking people.

That invisible message is rather reassuring and establishes the mayor at the right place of the catalyst. Unfortunately, the text does not seem very different to those published in previous agendas and sounds more like a repetition than a demonstration. And, one more time, while Angers is surfing on an English brand, there is no a single word of English in the text. That makes the agenda rather uneasy to promote the city abroad.

26 December, 2011

Angers town hall keeps its 12 New Year meetings for 2012

Credit Angers city
The Angers city has decided to stay faithful to the tradition and to distinguish itself from the Conseil général de Maine et Loire and the Préfecture : the New Year ceremony is maintained. Two meetings are even planned at Le Quai Theatre and small gatherings will take place in all the districts of Angers between the mayor, Jean-Claude Antonini and the inhabitants.

Regarding the two meetings, one is dedicated to Angers officials : what the entire town counts of associations, communities private or public will be there. Another one is planned for the employees of the city. Were these two necessary? May be not.

Regarding the first one, it's doubtful. Since 2009, Angers city organizes little ceremonies in the districts which allow the town hall representatives to meet directly the inhabitants and, according to local medias, more than 1 300 persons were there last year and the dialogue between Angers officials and inhabitants must be more effective in low scale meetings.

But these meetings add themselves to latest district meetings organized on behalf the "participative democracy". If we count the Conseils consultatifs de quartier, there is a lot of rendezvous between the municipal councillors and town hall members. May a little too much.

25 December, 2011

A Hackney makes Angers a little bit "Cockney"

 Its blown shape is out of place in that Angers little street among other cars. It looks antique and old fashioned. But, that very gap with nowadays cars gives it a kind of charm, and even, of spell, which comes in Angers, as in many cities in France, from England. That former London cab, formerly, black, is certainly one of the most symbolic objects of UK. Inside the Angers model, all the devices of its former part are still there : the inner window which separate the drivers from the passengers and the fare gauge which calculates the price of the run.

The London cabs are called "Hackney". That name comes... from France where "haquenée" was, a long time ago, a horse of medium size recommended for lady riders. The word "Hackney coach" appeared in UK around- the 17th century. During the 20th century, cars generally replaced horse-drawn models, and the last horse-drawn hackney carriage ceased service in London in 1947.

Maybe the emphasis of UK fragances in Angers down town could go through the use of that car by one or two Angers cab drivers... speaking English. Another icon of UK is displayed in Angers : the red phone cabin.

24 December, 2011

Angers city is looking for a four star hotel group for a "majestic" place

  The connection between two different news published by the local medias during the last week may predict Angers city has something to do in hotel business in the years to come. The Maine-et-Loire hotelkeepers federation recently stated that the results of the last summer season were pretty good. About 12% of supplementary overnight stays compared to 2010 were recorded ant the occupancy rate was always above the previous levels. At the same time, Angers town hall decided on the same week that the space located near the Le Quai Theatre, face to the castle, could be partly dedicated to a four stars hotel of 120 rooms.

According to Jean-Claude Bachelot, deputy mayor, "cities corresponding to Angers have a much more important number of four stars rooms". The place is "majestic", points out Jean-Claude Antonini, mayor, referring to the King René castle.
Credit : Wikipedia
One of the positive aspects of the scheme could be its private financing. Only the new congress center, located at the same place, will be financed by public money. Up to now, no hotel group stated it was interested to build a new complex and this could be the most important, and most difficult, aspect of the project. If the business tourism generates more money than the leasure tourism, Angers has to make its industry more competitive. The two issues are closely linked.

23 December, 2011

After 10 years of work, the Angers Conseil de développement is looking for a second wind

After ten years of debates, surveys and reports, the Conseil de développement of Angers Loire Métropole is looking for a second wind. This official organization which gathers members of the civil society is trying to enlarge and to open its ranks to new categories of members, among them : youth or minorities representatives. But it is also eager to stick to important issues for the city.

Hopefully, the Conseil de developpement which questions its members about new issues to deal (what could indicate it may not have special strategy about its part) met recently two fields : the development of Maine banks and the preservation of the economic assets (companies, qualified workers) badly damaged by the present crisis, but not only by it.

In fact, in Angers as in France as a whole, the public policy has weakened the competitiveness of the private sector in many different fields of industry. The recent threat on Technicolor, the former Thomson company who hired up to 3 000 persons thirty years ago, is the symbol of that economic impoverishment.

A few years ago, when Angers Loire Metropole launched the construction of the first tramway line, the authority decided to increase dramatically its transportation tax (in fact the increase was implemented largely before the start of the work). A few years later, it decided to increase the corporate tax before to be stopped by the courts. So the Conseil de développement could be helpful to alleviate taxes which strangle local growth, jobs, consumption and... fiscal receipts.

22 December, 2011

The Maine banks raising schemes on exhibition at Le Quai

 The Banks of Maine project will enter in a new stage at the beginning of next year. Hosted by the Le Quai Theatre between the 6th and the 29th of January, an exhibition on the three selected schemes will allow to the Angers inhabitants to see what the Maine banks could be in the future and to give their opinion about each of them. "Each opinion will count and will contribute" to the choice of one of the three teams.

These have had to difficult task to re-think a river space of 320 hectares large between the Maine Lake and Saint-Cubin Island. The core of the development is approximately located between the Le Quai theatre, face to the Angers castle toward the new Confluences Bridge. Among the goals of the three teams, there are: "the re-building of the town on itself and the promotion of a calmed down and high grade public space".

According to the chart of the scheme, "the city doesn't live anymore with its river and the inhabitants are disconnected with the river banks because of the presence of the expressway", so the urban projects will have to develop the metropolitan core and to make the city more attractive, to put the river in the core of the town and, of course, to give value to the banks. Among the main difficulties, there is the removal of the expressway which cuts the city. The choice which will be done within weeks will influence the face of Angers during the next 20 or 30 years.

21 December, 2011

Angers storekeepers wish to open their shops one or two times per year on Sundays.

The Leclerc superstore has definitely closed its doors on Sunday mornings but the debate about the commercial activity that day is not perhaps completely over. The president of Angers retail shopkeepers stated in the local medias the wish of the members of that association the possibility to open their stores on Sundays, above all during the end of year festivities.

According to Jonathan Verdugo, the president of the Angers retail shopkeepers, the regulation authorizes the mayor of a city like Angers to authorize the openings of stores till six times per year. Aware of the sensibility of the debate about the prohibition of opening stores on Sundays, Mr Verdogu warns "We are not in favour of systematic openings of stores on Sundays, we just want to open one or two times a year". But he knows the consumers or simply passers-by are sad when "going for a walk in the Angers downtown on Sundays, they only see the iron curtain shut down".
Credit : Wikipedia

If the public authorities are not very understanding on that issue, the culprit is also on shop owners' side, points out Mr. Verdugo who blames the members of his professional group for "not being sufficiently courageous to open only one or two times a year. They are not respectful toward consumers".

20 December, 2011

With the arrival of Monique Ramognino, the Angers mayor could see things with philosophy

Credit pictures Angers City
A page has maybe been turned over in the last mandate of Jean-Claude Antonini, mayor of Angers. The nomination (in fact an election) of Monique Ramognino as first deputy mayor of the city will undoubtedly ease the second part of the Antonini's term. Mrs Ramognino, till now in charge of cultural issues at the municipal council, is not a challenger of Mr Antonini, and no more for his possible heirs, Frédéric Béatse, Luc Belot or Jean-Luc Rotureau. 
The new deputy-mayor is very different of the former one, Bernadette Caillard-Humeau. With the departure of Mrs Caillard-Humeau, the political atmosphere will ease for Mr Antonini, who had open disagreement about the way Mrs Caillard-Humeau had run hers responsability. Taking her office, Mrs Ramognino stated that she would not have acted as Mrs Caillard-Humeau did for three years.

But the arriving of Mrs Ramognino could revive competition between the three possible candidates to succeed to Mr Antonini who maybe foresees to leave office before the next municipal polls of 2014. To a period of tensions with one deputy-mayor, another one, full of open ambitions, could arrive. Mrs Ramognino could see that new era with distance and philosophy, she taught before.

19 December, 2011

The Angers Loire Valley yule log for Christmas 2012

Credit Angers Loire Valley
The Chemellier hall hosted on December 16th an original contest : the best Angers Loire Valley yule log . A final selected the 10th best recipes of amateur pastry cooks of the city. The local media didn't published the results in their following day edition. For the jury, the most important standard of the yule log is its correspondence with "the identity of the territory", as it is written in the rule of the contest.

Credit Wikipedia
According to the survey commissioned by Angers Loire Métropole, the products symbolising the territory are (by order of decreasing importance) all edible : wine, slate nougats ("quernons d'ardoise") and Cointreau. So logically, the yule should display a piece of vine (instead of a piece of tree), slate nougats and be Cointreau flavored. The recipe must use local products. So the yule log should, logically, made of fruits like apple, pear or raspberries.

The winner will get fame because the Angers Loire Valley yule log wil bear the name of its creator and will see its recipe sold in all the best patisserie of Angers from Christmas 2012. And part of the profits will be transferred to caritative associations.Gastronomy will leave its mark on the end of 2011 because an exhibition is dedicated to Curnonsky, famous Angers gastronome.

18 December, 2011

Saint-Aubin str. stores display Christmas word

For the Christmas festivities, Angers gets a English touch. Many shopkeepers have decided to attract customers using over-Channel language. That trend is mainly visible in the garments stores where , brands, ads, objects and more and more messages are written in English . That is the case in Saint-Aubin street, one of the oldest way in down town Angers.

Many front side designers try to catch pedestrians' attention telling them it's time for an "Essential Christmas","hippie Christmas", "Sweet Christmas" or simply wishing a "Merry Christmas". Sometimes, a message mixes English and French. If some are understandable ("I love ma petite robe en maille"), for others, it's more difficult to get it. " Black and white glitter" (without an "s") is the best example. Other store owners decided to inform their customers in English about the very next future of their shop : low prices with "Shopping days" or "Liquidation avant relooking".

Moreover, the Soleils d'hiver event broadcasts a lot of English speaking hits (from UK or Us) which provides to the passers-by a pleasant change of scenery. But the prices are still indicated in euros and, according to the last Eurepean summit, the pound is nowhere near used in Angers.

17 December, 2011

"Confluences" drawings at sale : a bridge "over men"

Credit Wikipedia
A charitable auction sale was organized on December 15th in the Saint-Eloi Museum of drawings about the new trolley bridge "Confluences" who crosses the Maine River, in Angers. The initiative of that event was due to Angers Bamako Segou, an association which works to improve the daily life of Mali people in the field of education. The drawings were signed by Maurice Nadon, a former landscape architect who designed more thant 1 500 private gardens and terraces all over Europe.

Credit CCI of Maine et Loire
His drawings and watercolours gathered in a book "The idea of a bridge" tells the design and the construction of the "Confluences" bridge. All the sketches published in the book were on sale in that auction which will give the Angers Bamako Segou all the benefits of the event.

The book, whose interest comes mainly from the Maurice Nadon's quick sketched portraits, testifies the bridge was designed first as an aesthetic object : the inspiration precedes the calculations in geology, mechanic... and finances. And Maurice Nadon was in charge of the integration of the work in the Maine lanscape. The auction was a success, testifies the unassuming president of Angers Bamako Segou, Jean Perrault, who launched a charity bridge between men.

16 December, 2011

Flooded pavements in Angers down town due to driving rains

The present weather conditions over Angers make appear in Angers down town a disadvantage coming from the pedestrians surfaces set up around the central station of the trolley in Ralliement square. On Tuesday, the city was under a driving rain. The new pavements laid at the level of the streets were flooded and in its was impossible for women wearing ballet slippers (as fashion orders it) to cross the streets without soaking their feets.

 That high part of the city, built on hill along the river Maine left bank, maybe didn't get  storm drains sufficiently wide to absorb huge quantities of water as it is the case since a few hours. That stagnant water could even be risky for bikers going down from Saint Julien, then Louis de Romain streets before continuing along Plantagenet street till the riverside.

Météo France forecasts violent winds over Angers during Thursday fo Friday night coming along with heavy rains. More than thirty millimeters of water were recorded between Monday and Thursday. The same quantity was waited during the last night. 

15 December, 2011

The district meetings try to stimulate Angers inhabitants participation

The meetings between inhabitants of the different districts of Angers and the mayor, Jean-Claude Antonini, and his team of municipal councillors, is used as a way to demonstrate the results of the citizen participation town hall want to stimulate. Urban projects, economic activity and dynamism of local associations are the main issues of the dialogue Mr Antonini want to maintain with the Angevins. And during the expressions of questions or opinions, the frame of mind of the local representatives and of the inhabitants is getting out.

A kind of uneasiness is the outcome : from the participants and, sometimes, from the municipal officials themselves. The first ask economic activity, jobs and, finally, animation in their district and in their daily life. The persons involved in social communities fear these structures are endangered by the scarcity of public subsidies and their managers have "nightmares" face to the necessary lay-off of employees. For the town, its a dilemma, explained yesterday in Monplaisir, Mr Antonini : "If we grant allocations in the position of the state, this one withdraws silently and lets the burden to the city. But if the city withdraws, it's intolerable and damaging". 

But the mayor "is confident. If the inhabitants are united they will overcome difficulties". From a former doctor, that looks to a placebo.

14 December, 2011

The South ring road of Angers is not yet straight forward

The car traffic should continue to increase in Angers and surroundings in spite of the will of public authorities to develop collective mode of transport and the soaring of gas prices in the years to come. The building of a way at the South of Angers city gathered 300 persons at the congress center. If some ecological communities claimed their opposition to such a project, it seems unavoidable that one will be implemented because the inhabitants of Les Ponts-de-Cé city live a permanent traffic jam.

Several projects have been conceived and, because they are all quite complicated because a lot of aspects have to be considered, the attempt of a participatory democracy is not easy. According to the observers, the more likely is a small South link digged on 7,5 km long which would go along La Roseraie district towards Sainte-Gemmes-sur-Loire and Les Ponts de Cé.


The Angers Loire Métropole authority dedicated all a page of its website to numerous surveys and reports. The only certainty would be the increase of the traffic (near a 1/5th) up to 2020 and the project will not be implemented within several years because of the financial constraints. Until this time, the traffic will increase. The Alm authority would be well advised to educate its inhabitants to new way of transportations.

13 December, 2011

The confidence for the new Angers West commercial complex is, not at all, granted

Through the local medias, an issue is creeping into the minds of Angers inhabitants regarding the consistency of the projects of public facilities in the city and its surroundings. Between mid-november and mid-december, two of them have been openly discussed by newspapers in totally different fields. After the water complex located on the new Les Hauts de Saint-Aubin district, it's further the next Atoll commercial center to arouse questions and even doubts. Above all when the conjuncture is not favorable.

In an interview published on Monday by the daily Ouest-France, the tone is given as soon as the first question to Daniel Loiseau, in charge of the economic affairs at Angers Loire Métropole, "The Atoll, is it not the delusions of grandeurs?". The second questions is on the same vein : "Is such a concept not a little bit has been?". The third remark is not more tender! Regarding the customers Ouest-France wonders about their behaviour and guesses that "Maybe [the customers will take pleasure to visit the place], but will they buy items?". And so all article long...

Credit : Angers Loire Métropole
The main daily newspaper of France will dedicate an entire week to the issue. The idea on a reevaluation of important projects doesn't come from Ouest-france only. Recently, the daily Angers press wrote about a change of Angers policy regarding a reduction of real estate projects, the most important ambition of the city in the years to come...

12 December, 2011

The way to relieve traffic congestion in Angers down town could be long

 In spite of Angers city efforts to promote collective modes of transportation, the reign of individual cars isn't yet over. On December 11th Sunday evening, hundreds of vehicles were encircled down town in search of a car park available. At the end of the afternoon, Ralliement parking lot displayed "full" as Imbach square a few hundreds meters further. And some drivers didn't hesitate to occupy pavements or cyclable lanes for their vehicle.

Although the weather was rainy, thousands of families with kids, strollers and pets were wandering inside the tiny lanes of the Christmas village, waiting for a pastry, a glass of hot wine (with cinammon) or trinkets. One of the surprising things is, even that busy day, most of stores, except a few ones, were closed while numerous passer-by stopped along their front windows in search of an idea for a gift.

If the end of year festivities planned by town hall are a success, a forward-looking policy to relieve the traffic congestion and to enhance no polluting ways of transport has to be designed in Angers : prohibition of cars in down town and prohibition of parking cars in streets in which people don't live in, as it's the case in London, could be conceivable.

11 December, 2011

Mrs Caillard-Humeau criticizes the Angers trolley policy that she claimed to have run

In a statement read in front of the mayors of towns and villages members of Angers Loire Métropole, on December the 8th just before the withdrawal of her charges had to be voted, Bernardette Caillard-Humeau, who recently had already lost her responsabilities at the municipal council of Angers and in the Angers and surroundings authority, gave an information about the traffic of the new trolley. The number of travellers could not be as important as foreseen, according Mrs Caillard-Humeau who said : " There is still a long way to fill the trolley and the issues of parking lots are not alien to that".

The problem is Mrs Caillard-Humeau, former deputy-chairman of Angers Loire Métropole, was in charge of the transportation field when she was in office. In that field, she was also in charge of the VeloCité+ facility she described as a success while it was, in fact, a failure (the costs of renting bikes for visitors arriving in the railway station are too high and dozens of bikes are parked permanently to their hoops). She had also set up iron cage to park bikes around the city which are unused.

Her statement confirmed the difficult relationship she had with Mr Antonini : "I have my temper, but is it not necessary to have one to make things going on?", she said referring to the past, before adding, about the future : "I wish the new team will direct the chairman [Mr Antonini]... without fear, without half-measure". Mrs Caillard-Humeau counter attacked arguing that the withdrawal of its attributions was the consequence of a new political balance between centrists and socialists inside the majority. but she is not the first centrist allied to the left in Angers. Formerly there was an alliance under Jean Monnier mandate as Anges mayor and no clash occured.

10 December, 2011

Illuminations warm the core of Angers city

In Angers, one of the most meaningful signals of the end of the year festivities is the illuminations of the streets. Along the commercial ways, at the crossroads and in squares, a lot a monuments and front side buildings are enlighted. 

These compensate the earlier nightfall and the rainy weather which reign over the Angers province at that period of the year. The illuminations make the Angers down town more attractive for customers or even simple pedestrians. Thanks to them, the core of the city looks to a commercial center, the most important of all in Angers, point out the storekeepers as well the town representatives. 

The music adds to the magic of the atmosphere. During the last years, the most popular song broadcasted was an old one dedicated to "Papa Noël" which gave sadness instead of fun to the passer-by. it could be a good idea to choose Strauss waltzes to close the year. The organizers are, in 2011, more sensitive than formerly, to UH and English popular hits.

One of the most remarkable enlightments has been set up in Sainte-Croix square. It looks designed to give shelter to the speech of a king. Even the new trolley line has used its electrical devices for illuminations. If the periodical enlightments heat the climate, they nevertheless warm the atmosphere of the city, at least for a while.