29 July, 2011

Two English Angers antiquities on NTIC

Few by few, Angers city aims its communication toward English speaking people visiting the town and on the most up-to-date tools : smartphones and touchpads. Having devised an "app" on Angers monuments along the trolley line, the Educational Service Town of Art and History has decided to translate two of them in English. One describes the Saint-John Hospital.

Credit Angers city
Is it a deliberate choice? It would be judicious becase the Saint-John hospital was erected by a king of... England, Henry Ii Plantagenet, at the end of the XIIth century. While he was born in Le Mans, he was designated as king of England after the death of Etienne of England in 1153. And he spoke several languages. The Saint-John hospital architecture, almost its front side, evokes an English atmosphere, with the garden perfectly pruned and the its lawn.

The Barrault Housing, the second Angers momument whose description has been translated in English - by Jonathan Lloyd, head of English at Essca - has links with English civilization in its religious aspects. The famous Edit de Nantes, granting freedom of faith to protestant, was written in that momnument in march and april 1598. Its revocation, in 1685, lead to the emigration of numerous Huguenots toward England and its American colonies.

27 July, 2011

A symbol of XXth century in Angers : the "wall smart"

The Le Quai theatre will host on september the 2nd the "Speaker wall", an exhibition par of the 2011 edition of the Angers cultural event "Les Accroche-coeurs". The "Speaker wall" is aN electro-acoustic sculpture made of a piece of a Berlin Wall disappeared in 1989. Its exhibition in Angers was possible thanks to help from the Berlin City and Sony.

Credit Wikipedia
The association of materials with sounds is not new in the work of Benoît Maubrey. As director of Die Audio Gruppe, a Berlin-based art group, he built and performed electronic  clothes, or electro-acoustic clothes and dresses  (equipped with amplifiers and loudspeakers) "that make sounds by interacting thematically and acoustically with their environment".

For the Angers exhibition, he will apparently use with care a piece of the "Wall of shame". But what kind of sounds evoke that block of concrete : tears, cries, bullets and death because of the mumerous East-German citizens who tried, often unsuccessfully, and at the risk of one's life, to pass over that limit toward freedom and a better future.

The piece of the Berlni wall is yet a piece of art, covered by coloured tags which, generallh, are agressive expressions in our urban landscape but looks quite elegant in the moder architecture of the Le Quai Theatre.

25 July, 2011

People sometimes queue up at Angers public toilets

Among the urban furnitures set up in Angers under JCDecaux brand, one of the most useful, and nervertheless, one of the most jeered, are the public urinals. Several are installed in Angers, at Imbach or Saint-Serge squares. These modern equipments respect an equality between men and women the antic greee public urinoirs set up on the public domain maybe didn't. 

Credit : JCDecaux (San-Francisco)
But in Angers city, is their number - about thirty, some free, others charged - sufficient? It's not sure, because on non working day, when most of the restaurants and cafés are closed in the city, the pedestrians can only piss against a wall, tree or between two cars. So those devices could be a little bit numerous in crowdy places like open air markets or pedestrian streets.

If they appear on a map in the city website, are they indicated on appropriate signs in the streets of Angers like the public buildings or the monuments are. Of course they are not monuments but they are sometimes very useful and it's not unusual to see people queue up when it's time to go...

23 July, 2011

The Accroche-coeurs at Eastern time

Credit Angers
A postcard announcing the 2011 edition of Les Accroche-coeurs has recently be sent by the Angers city hall. This event is one of those Angers intended to protect from the budgetarian restrictions it has to face, like many others cities in France, and abroad. Recently, it was said on another blog (Angers Mag) that the Trypique exhibition dedicated to contemporary art will not be set up this year for financial reasons.

The Accroche-coeurs 2011 is introduced by town hall as a way "to extend holidays" (of those who got it) before to face school for some, work for others. If such events can give courage to people : why not if the cost is reasonable? May be Angers community needs to renew a kind of cohesion from time to time.

This year Les Accroche-coeurs are looking to the East, the next (Alsace, Franche-Comté), the Eastern Europe and even the far Eastern countries. Through this event, the city intends to make the people doers of their own rejoicing and to open their minds to other ways of life and of thinking. The Accroche-coeurs salvation is explainable by its popular caracteristic while the Tryptique were a little bit elitist and without any involvment of the public. And that is maybe what organizers and audience are looking for.

21 July, 2011

With the future high speed line Rennes-Paris, Angers could stay on the platform...

If the construction of a high speed line between Rennes and Paris may have some advantage for Angers, it is, nevertheless, a sad news for that city. In fact, with the current line, Angers was closer to Paris than Rennes. The distance from Angers to Paris (264 km) was run in 90 mn and the distance between Rennes and Paris (307 km) was run, with the current line, in 120 mn.

But, thanks to a new hig speed line between Rennes and Paris, which will be implementend on 2016, the travel time would not exceed - at 320 km per hour - one hour and a half. That's good for Rennes but Angers is now overcome by the Britanny city in the map of France according to time travel. And from Paris, Rennes will be connected to European capitals.

Credit Wiki : the red line has no official existence
Angers will now foot the bill of the foolish refusal Anjou local representatives opposed to a project of the Sncf to build a high speed line between Angers and Paris. But this is not the only bad news. Nantes, currently linked to Paris through Angers, could ask a high speed line allowing it to go to Paris at 320 km per hour through Rennes instead of... Angers. The irony of the story is the people of Angers who will not benefit of the improvement of the future high speed line will nevertheless pay for it. Fifteen years ago, some of them rejected Sncf's proposal to pay (partially) a line dedicated entirely to the shortening of travel time between their city and Paris. Now they will not have the line, only the cost of it!

19 July, 2011

Stores in Angers down town are in vacancy, and not for holidays.

Is the phemenon linked to the summer holidays, synonymous of weaker business or is it the consequence of the general economic evolution? It is nevertheless obvious : in some of the most buoyant streets of Angers, stores are closed, and not for holidays. Small restaurants, garments stores or internet shops shut their doors and are looking for new owners or tenants.

Since months, real estate agencies warn many flats in Angers down town are empty. The tenants are gone and nobody came because, according to their testimonies, this part of the town is less and less accessible to cars, or for mothers with young children and baby carriages, or according to some shop owners more and more endangered by deliquancy. In fact, the trolley line has already started to redesign the scale of the prices. A former store of automobile spareparts located Moliere square now beleguared by trolley is no more fitted for that kind of business. A restaurant specialized in foreign gastronomy in Saint-Aubin street has vanished in less than two years. What will come next and when?

The sensation of escheated properties could be amplified by the scarcity of students in Angers in that period of the year, and students are important customers (even if they are noisy). The habits of Angers customers may have changed too. In spite of the reduction of the worked hours, numerous have less time for shopping, and of course less money...

15 July, 2011

The Angers July 14th splitted between economy and souvenir

Even if the National Day is praised by French people because it grants them a longer (and quite sunny) weekend, nevertheless some of them continue to work mainly in restaurants, and more scarcely in stores. Some of them like decatlon were opened yesterday and few customers were purchasing items. Of course French people understandably consider it's unconceivable to work or to do shopping that specific day because they think if they don't work how can they make their fellow citizens work?

But in fact, it would be may be appropriate to reconsider that point of view. France, as many European countries gets bogged down in economical difficulties (loss or at best staggering revenues, weak growth, important unmployment, unbalance of public finances and  retirement budget...). So, it could be clever to make it easier for people who accept to work, if they get extra pay packet for that, to live that non working day on their own way.

From abroad, mails received by the way from US let glimpse that foreign people still see the July 14th in France as an emblematic day for French.  This national pride for past events is surely one of the attractive caracteristic of the country.  That is not wrong : on July 14th the Angers inhabitants didn't storm the Bastille, but the Angers castle, for picnic.

14 July, 2011

The smoke of the National Day

Credit picture Angers city
On the eve of July 14th, national day in France and so in Angers, hundreds of people left their home and gathered along the Maine river in order to see the fireworks. Those are, with the military parades on Resistance and Deportation boulevard in front of the city hall, a tradition in France. But much more numerous was the audience for the fireworks than the military parade. During that one, most of the iron fences set up around the Leclerc square were useless.

People don't look very found of military demonstrations in Angers, and probably all over France. Within a few hours, all the the mobile facilities had disappeared thanks to the workorce of town hall, probably not unhappy to come back home or joining relatives or friends to the firework. The firework is quite the same year after year : the only difference would probably be the budgetary restrictions Angers city has to deal with.

All public demonstrations in Angers were affected by the expenses restrictions but inhabitants looked unaware that fireworks are paid with their own money. And once they have beeen ligthed, the money used forz the show has gone up in smoke...

12 July, 2011

The "knights" of the pizzas

They are now so much part of the urban landscape of Angers that nobody notice them. They drive all across the city, from the end of the afternoon to the middle of the night like if an important mission had to be fullfilled. All drive the same iron horses, in an armor of leather with an helmet. They tear themselves from traffic lights in screeching tires and coughing blue smoke. For assaulting their foe : time. This is the art of fast pizza deliveries and, like knights of the middle age in tournaments, these modern knights wear a battle flag.

Pizza Tempo, Speed Rabbit Pizza, Domino's Pizza or Pizza Hut are the coat of arms of these faithful servants of the symbolic meal of our time : pizza. Even the word "pizza" evokes the humming of the bees endlessly working around the beehive. And that's what they do : going and coming bach in every direction because of orders collected from customers like pollen from flowers.

But the bloom of pizza's orders lasts all year long. Whatever be the weather the pizzas' starved court wants its meal as soon as its order has been given. The ballet of the knights riding scooters never ends. Most of the customers are unaware of the risks these servant run sometimes, endangering their own life adding the pizza the "spices" their lords love above all.

11 July, 2011

The Maine Lake, like a mirror of Angers inhabitants' care for their health

The Maine Lake is surely one of the most popular locations of Angers inhabitants, particularly when days are longer and milder. Of course, the main attraction is the lake itself which, surrounded by trees and lawns, looks like a giant mirror under the sky. But, if the lake is an invitation for swimming and sailing, a lot of people are may be less attracted by the lake than by what's going on round the lake...

Pedestrians, runners, bikers, riders, males, females, youngs, adults, seniors, single or in groups, some with dogs, do the tour of the lake. The absence of relief creates a kind of challenges between the people in search of physical exercise. Some runners try to follow the pace of the most winged without looking the sight outside the round of the lake : fishermen and kayakers on the Maine river.

Angers inhabitants, as well as many French, look to have been sensitized to the interest of sport. Others are only there for the pleasure of a promenade in a natural space. For these who walk quietly, a fun wonder is to smell the air after being overcome by sportsmen who drag scents of laundry soap. Only the loneless sailer becalmed in his tiny skiff in the center of the lake doesn't realize all this agitation on the shores. The mirror doesn't reflect what's is around it.

10 July, 2011

The Angers tram line stimulates... needs of calmness and intimacy

When shop owners can't find a visible place along the tram line in Angers down town, they sometimes settle for a location in the rear of a building where the distance from main street becomes an advantage. That's the case with "Le Boudoir" café to which one reach through the porch of an ancient town house. There, the silence contrasts with the traffic of Alsace street nearby.

It's possible the opening of the café is very recent because the place gets its attractiveness both from the setting out of "Le Boudoir" which created an open air bar arranged with iron seats of agriculture tractors and from the calmness of that back courtyard whose charm could be enhanced by the layout of flowers and plants. Nevertheless, the inside café has a very discreet atmosphere which looks appropriate by women having just had a drink there ( The word "boudoir" was formerly dedicated to intimate female chatters).

The way leading to "Le Boudoir" has its style by itself. The high and washed out walls surround a narrow way and open, on the left side to a little bit majestic entrance of the town house whose stuccos and niches make a smooth transition for visitors wishing to get a little break from urban activity.

09 July, 2011

The mayor of Angers Antonini stands by Angers Loire Valley

Credit picture : www.angers.fr
A rcent chat between Angers inhabitants and their mayor Jean-Claude Antonini gave to one of those the opportunity to severely criticize the new brand Angers Loire Métropole made toward Angers Loire Valley. According to that internet user, the new brand is "absurd" and reveals more a try bo be "trendy" than a true opportunity for the city to widen its audience.

The answer of Mr Antonini reflects only the fact : "Actually, the only international language is English. One can deplore that, one can be happy with that, but it's a fact, all over the world, English is gabbled and snippets of English are understood". The problem for the city is it can't be located on a map while Angers is part of a place famous all over the world. So the goal of the new brand is : may be Angers can take advantage of the fame of the Loire province?

But that internet user, rather than criticize the communication policy of Angers, could have a look about the ads, the shop signs, the garnments the people wear. That intervention on the mayor chat was very typical of a contradictory French feature : this country is at the same time fascinated and worried by the expansion of English in daily life.

06 July, 2011

Naturalist walk in Balzac Park

Credit Angers city
One of the best places for a moment of rest in Angers at the sunset after a warm day is the Balzac Park. Set up about 15 years ago, the growth of its trees gives it all the aspects of a natural space, even if all the parts of the park have been carefully designed. Very near the bottom of the car park, the walker breathes the fragances of fields : the smells of grass mix with the mild wind running above ponds and canals.

A few hundreds meters further, an alley crosses two fields full of flowers the kind many impressionnist artists depicted so beautifully. Near the center of the garden, a little hill has been erected allowing pedestrians to enjoy the sight surrounded by the top of the trees and, to the South, the roofs of the city.

But Balzac parl is also wildlife. It is frequent to see birds gliding in the air looking for fishes in the ponds or dozen of rabbits which vanish in the thickets as soon as people are approaching too close. The park is for being crowded; the calm of the atmosphere is enhancing the pleasure of the sight Coming back to the carpark along the Maine river, the sunset reflects itself on the churches'towers of Angers, like a signal to let the Balzac park to rest for the night.

04 July, 2011

The Angers castle rejuvenation works will have to continue with a new visitors' policy

The Angers castle is attacked... by restoration works. These are highly visible since a few days because the West tower, close to the Basse-Chaîne bridge, is now disappearing under the metallic scaffholdings, as if assailants were invading the place. In a way, that is nevertheless what they will do, but with tools and cement in order to redo the joints between the schists assembled from 1230 to 1242...

Those restoration works are the most important undertaken in 2009 by the French culture minister and were due to last almost three years. The budget is 5,2 millions euros. During that period, 15 masons will have worked on about 10 000 m2. The fortifications should have been restored in 2011.

At the same time, the complete repairs of the Logis royal, which started in 2009 because of an accidental fire, are due to be completed before the end of this year. The cost of the work is 8,5 millions euros.

But the Angers inhabitants as well as tourists will discover a rejuvenated monument in the months to come. It would be desirable that the management of such a beautiful place be modernized too. If the native American curator of the Angers castle can't do there a new Dsiney park, nevertheless, she should revise the conditions of reception of visitors. In old monuments, the attack against old policy is probably not the less difficult.

03 July, 2011

The annual Angers discount day, still very popular

A nice weather, the beginning of summer holidays and the annual street market lead the inhabitants of Angers and its surroudings to walk around down town in order to dig out the good deal. Hundreds of stalls displayed garnments, shoes, electronic and hifi devices, kitchen accessories, perfumes and cheap jewelry in crowded streets. The Ralliement square had just enough space to host open air stores and café terraces while the trams were due to slow down in order to let the pedestrians cross the tracks.  
In spite of the good conditions of the city discount day, the business is still difficult. Shopkeepers had to convince the potential purchasers to buy something and it is clear that the number of onlookers is much more larger than the number of customers. These one were clearly attracted by lower quality goods whic, during that day, could have made difficult the business of regular stores.

 But it is obvious these kind of events are yet very popular in Angers. If the prices were attractive, the environment, quite unusual of the market, attracted many people eager to the the core of the city, once and for all (?), rid of the transportation works aiming at giving to the city the mood of a renewed town.

02 July, 2011

The useless generosity of Angers public authorities

Irigo, the company running the transportation network of Angers, takes care of the travellers. That's right. It even takes care of its former travellers : students who lived in the city for a few month during their cursus and who definitely came back to their native land. Their fomer host families in Angers have recently found letters for these foreign customers with a new subscription plastic card allowing them, once refunded, to use buses and trolley of Angers.

This case of Irigo is not isolated. The Lcl bank still send letters for their formers young customers regarding their accounts, the new services they can get or asking them to come to the bank for administrative purposes. Even the Caisse d'alllocations familiales writes to its former "customers" regarding their rights or even telling them they have to look for official documents in order to receive again housing allocations...

From part to part, these generous policies have a cost for the consumer and for the tax payer. These authorities, two of them have the monopole of their business in Angers city, could watch more closely the useless expenses they do in order to save money for their faithful customers still living in Angers...