29 September, 2011

Marathon mad

It's not marathon man, but it could be. Mr X is walking and running all over Angers almost all year long. After the training in a stadium, he comes back home, but the return seems a training too. He has not a lot of time for talking, because that would probably slow his rythm. So if a pedestrian want to interwiew the sportsman, he has to follow his pace.

The man is running since 20 years. He lives in Angers and quite regularly goes to Southern France where he is running in public competitions. His face has the traits of a veteran but the man's profile has something juvenile. Probably because of the runs he accomplished many times. One can see him crossing down town with a sports bag.

These exercises have some distorted the silhouette, constantly bent forward as if the man was attracted by his next step, the next yard till the end of his continuous run. But the discipline doesn't seems cumbersome to him. His smile appears on his face as soon as he speaks about his lifetime runner.

The discipline must be strict because, on thursday 29 september, the temperature was 30° at 8 pm, oh yes it was very hot. In spite of his long time of sportsman, he seems to enjoy semi-marathon (about 21 km). He doesn't think, even a single minute to stop running because he would be like an addict without his drug. So Angers inhabitants will see for a long time to come their marathon-mad.

28 September, 2011

Inappropriate behaviour of Angers animal's owner on the trolley lawns, a case among others

If the cleanliness is a constant worry of Angers city, some persons apparently do not know what the word means and are not very concerned by the cleanliness of public places. On monday in the evening, the proof was given by a man walking with his dog on the lawns of the trolley in order, obviously, to let the animal defecate. Some people do that but not so visibly, not so publicly.

The neglect of French people for public places is a very common behaviour in this country. If one can understand the attention the people pay to their animals, its beyond understanding these people do not pay the same attention for the other people. Moreover, these lawns are part of a urban landscape which needed a lot of work for many persons : architects, gardeners and so... So the use of that lawn for natural needs sounds like an insult to the skills which were involved in such a project.

Would a fee enforceable to the owners of animals be appropriate? Maybe the taxpayer would consider there are entrusted to do what they want just because they pay. In fact the lack of concern regarding the maintaining costs yet a lot of money to the local public authority. Recently, the Ralliement square has been completly clean up because of the gums splitted on the pavements. A kind of plastic layer will be applied to the surface, but will the behaviour of pedestrians will change?

27 September, 2011

The tram travellers face, with pleasure, technical problems to pay their tickets

The trolley line has made some people happy. In june, the Angers inhabitants travelled for free. Then, the tickets dispensers were out of order, and  since the beginning of september, they are alway out of order. Apparently the ticket collectors said nothing, so some travellers use the trolley without paying a penny. Its good for the popularity of the equipment.

The drivers of the train are powerless. Once the travellers are on board and with people behind them, they are protected by their honesty, and the word of the driver. But, thinks could change.Though, 1,40 euro is not a high price for a person who just want to discover Angers along the line. For persons who use it regularly, it could be different, almost if, like it is predictible, the price of the ticket will increase.

For people arriving in Angers and unaware of the technical problems above, the trolley free is surely a good idea. Hopefully there is coordination between trolley and bus. If an inhabitant takes the bus and, within an hour the trolley, he has to pay one time, what be the distance he has to cover. "Off we go".

26 September, 2011

The unexpected sight of Terra Botanica

 If Terra Botanica park includes a lot of gardens' sceneries whic attract numerous visitors, may be most of them, because of their desire to stay as long as possible in the compound, do note pay attention to a sight to a place located outside of the park, just a few dozen meters before the entrance. From a wooden bridge which leads the public to the entrance gates, the visitors can look a curious landscape, mysterious and totally unexpected. It looks so original that it could give the impression it is part of the Terra Botanica gardens.

A huge trench, whose depth is almost 8 meters, is winding, as silently as a snake, under the bridge. Designed for the former railway line which linked Angers to Segré (a city at the West of the Maine et Loire department), the place is now invaded by luxuriant vegetation like if the scene had taken place in a tropical forest. Trees' branches stretch over the trench and make it appear like a cradle or a coffin. In the middle of the passage, like a backbone the tracks still emerge, but not train has travelled there for a very long time.

This sight looks like a solemn warning about the limited power of man face to the force of nature. That impression comes from the silence and the stillness of the scene. The visitor is suddenly caught up in the smokes of the past.

24 September, 2011

The new faces of Angers

Few by few, Angers is counting a new generation of inhabitants. These have a very different face compared of those of Angevins stock even if they are born in Angers. One of their parents, mostly their mother, came here a few years ago and just for a few months to learn French. They learnt it so well, including the French culture, they felt in love with this country, and almost felt in love simply.

Through the Cidef, a language department linked to the Université catholique de l'Ouest, Japanese girls discovered the city and met their husband there. They married and settled in Angers and now have babies. All of them didn't only kept the black hair and dark eyes of Japan, but are also educated both in French by their father and Japanese by their mother. Apparently without a single problem. 

About twenty Angevins-Japanese couples were gathered on saturday for a picnic on the lawn of the Decathlon superstore. Some of them are furniture designer, others paper artist or chocolate maker. Some of them teach Japanese. These represent a new category of Angevins and may give to the city the international stance townhall want to get.

23 September, 2011

Angers Loire Valley misses the point in Le Monde

The daily French newspaper Le Monde published a four pages supplement to its issue printed on thursday dedicated to Angers Loire Valley. In fact, theses pages are not a report the newspaper has decided to do but an advertising insert bought by Angers Loire Valley. Visibly, this double's its effort to promote the city and its surroundings on a national scale. But once again, the sponsors of this ads missed a great opporunity to give to their city the international touch they want to give it. They had to portray Angers Loire Valley, not in French in Le Monde, but in English.

That's a pity, because, in his "interview", the mayor of Angers recognizes that the English touch of the brand, thanks to the word "Valley" is due to the acknowledgement that "English is the language which goes anywhere". Moreover, such an attraction is shared by others than the city. The ads mentions the existence of a community of local companies called Loire Electronic Applications Valley...In another brief article, the city puts forward its annual event of promotion of local companies designated Made in Angers while, in the field of arts, the city reminds his cultural exhibitions of Artaq, the Urban Arts Awards... 
Once more, the instigator of that communication should have use the impact of an English sounding branch in France. OK for an ads in French in The Times. But, in a daily title so French like Le Monde, an English ads on a French town would have been a must.

22 September, 2011

The Ralliement square, theater of a first public relations exercise

Is the Ralliement square finding a new use? Maybe in order to be seen, and that goal would be wise, the Angers Basket Club gathered on tuesday some dozens of persons on the open air terrasse of the new café de France. Introduced one by one to the public, the Angers basket ball players were standing on the steps at the entrance of the Angers Grand Theatre, quietly dressed with a blue t-shirt branded by the logo of their club.

The idea would have had much more impact if it had been planned during a non working day because, especially on saturdays, many people cross that place. Moreover their president had to express his wishes for the starting season of the club, so it would have be much more stimulating with a lot of people around. ABC which evolves in the Nm1 but is aiming for the Pro B.  

The Ralliement square could find a new purpose : the organization of public relations events, even if the place could be a little bit enlived than it is. A few more lights, some clumps of greeneries (the trees are scare) would fit with the babbling of the fountains. Moreover, the restaurants around the core of the city, and especially the Café de France, could imagine some fittings in order to be more attractive, even if their presence has nothing to see with those of a travel agency or a tax office... 

21 September, 2011

The mayor of Angers doesn't deny he will leave office before 2014

Credit Angers city
In his talking with the Angers internet users on the 19th september, the mayor, Jean-Claude Antonini, didn't denied he could step down before the end of his office. "You will see", he said. His predecessor, Jean Monnier, did so in 1998 at the mid term of his office, leaving room for Jean-Claude Antonini, then first deputy mayor. The present Angers mayor, of course, didn't indicate who will be in charge after him but that hypothesis is plausible, Mr Antonini not having hidden that he had to cease for a while last year his activity due to health reasons.

If a part,of the interview has been dedicated to local issues, the mayor made clear that his support of Dominique Strauss-Kahn as a contender for the French presidential elections of 2012 was definitely over. Mr Antonini, who was member of a fan club of DSK last year, only uttered "We shall miss his expertise"...

Criticized about the increase of local taxes, the mayor said the financial withdrawal of the French state was responsible of it. The lauch of a survey about the costs of tthe digging of the expressway along the left bank of the Maine doesn't indicate the mayor changed his mind regarding the option of the filling of the present trench. He pointed out he had always the fighting spirit to help the Angers inhabitants to overcome the economic and social consequences of the international crisis.

20 September, 2011

The Angers townhall initiative to give rise to inhabitants participation could be clearer

The Angers townhall organizes during almost a month, from today till the end of october, a serie of meetings with the inhabitants through district assemblies. Each gathering will be lead by two representatives of townhall which, visibly, is eager to associate inhabitants and generate new ideas which could be useful for the next local elections (2014).

The programm of the district assemblies has not be built on specific issues of each district. The issue are transverse, i.e. transposable from a district to another. In the district of Monplaisir, where a urban redevelopment is going to take place, the inhabitants will not discuss of that but will talk about issues regarding the Angers youth. That way will nevertheless prevent the appearance of district claims which could not be compatible one with the others at the level of the whole town.

This gathering may constitute a good way for the Angers townhall to stay in touch with the daily concerns of the inhabitants. This initiative comes from the "Participation Day" the city set up on spring. But that time, the content of the event was more explicit and maybe the citizens will always make the link between the district assemblies and the Participation Day. Moreover, these add up with the "Districts rendez-vous" and may make obscur the ways inhabitants can take part, and even, may bore them.

19 September, 2011

The future of the Angers expressway is not near to be decided

What to do with the expressway going across Angers, like a scar on the face of a person? Apparently, the townhall doesn't have yet the answer. Two solutions are foreseen. First : the filling of the expressway and the creation of a simple two lane road at the surface, from the Saint-Serge district to the King of Poland castle. The second option would consist in the burying of the expressway between the Basse-Chaîne et the Haute-Chaîne bridges on a little bit more than 1 km. 

 But each of the options show a difficulty. The first : if the Angers inhabitants use it to cross the city, that bank of the Maine river could be permanently held up and Angers would meet again the situation it faced at the end of the 70's. The second option show also a technical difficulty : the tunnel digged on such a distance could be vulnerable to floods and would have to be flooded too in order to balance the pression the river will have on the tunnel when the water level is high.

Credit pictures : Wikipedia
A survey has been ordered by Angers townhall which want to know the cost (regarding the "pressure" on local finances, it's a wise decision). Whatever be the final choice, the issue will remain a clear distinction between the left and the right banks of the Maine... and of the policy.

18 September, 2011

Tintin starts to rally admirers in Angers

Within a few weeks, numerous adults, if not all, will have the opportunity to retie with their childhood. Screens in Angers will show the first of a cinematic trilogy of Tintin, directed by Steven Spielberg. On the 17th september, the Tintin universe started to appear on Ralliement square, for the pleasure of admirers. 

In fact, the four characters, Tintin, Captain Hadock and the Dupond and Dupont detectives were here on behalf Gemy, an Angers automobile dealership, to distribute to pedestrians leaflets untitled "The search for good opportunities" illustrated by the Hergé heroe. But that was completely removed by the four "sandwich men" - very realistic in the composition of their characters. Thanks to the likeness of two of them to the Hergé heroes, they attracted numerous passers-by who never realized they were there to promote Gemy and made of them a few pictures, convinced that a party among students was on way...

On that Heritage Days, the flavour of the past was not only in buildings. And one can bet the Tintin monument will still attract children from "7 to 77 years old".  

17 September, 2011

Angers property tax is soaring

A few months ago it was only figures, projects, announcements, debates but now a step has been covered and there is another one to come and that last will be the hardest. From the beginning of september, Angers inhabitants do not only collect leaves, they collect their local taxes and those are heavy. 

Compared to the fiscal year 2001, the increase of property tax in Angers city is 42%, but, almost, the annuel increase of 2011 has never been so high : 10%! It is not sure the revenues of Angers inhabitants have raised in a similar proportions during the same year... All the public authorities which collect money in Angers and Angers Loire Valley are concerned. The variation of the amount of money collected by Angers city between 2011 and 2010 is higher by 7%. And the variations between the two fiscal years are not all indicated on the tax return...
The economic crisis is of course responsible of such evolutions, but important projects like the trolley which will have to be refunded, will undoubtedly demand restrictions on other expenses. Among these, the organization of events, some campaigns of communication, lending of vehicles could be brought into question.

16 September, 2011

The Heritage day, still topical in Angers city

The opening of old town house and a discovery of some districts in wich the trolley goes through are some of the novelties of the next European heritage days, planned on the 17th and 18th september in Angers. Some of these old mansions, the Cupif (then Guérin de la Piverdière), Maquillé and Nepveu d'Urbe are located in Canal street or Falloux square, two old places of the very down town of the city where history is still present through architecture and atmosphere. These home seem to stand apart the turmoil of the town.

This is quite a miracle because some improvements are still feasible in the fittings of the streets which are not, compared to old districts of other towns of the Loire valley, always specifically cared by Angers city. But maybe visits organized at night, when the agitation is gone, would be for the amateurs of that Heritage days, a more appropriate way to dive in the past of their city.

The trolley is also an axis of orchestration of events in Angers. So Angers Loire Valley has set up guided visits along the tramway line (not free on these days)... The use of new means of transport, like rollerblades, is on the programm. But why not on bikes ( the city want to increase) or Segway? That is may be the most challenging aspects of these Heritage days : the renewal of the places to see and the ways to see them.

15 September, 2011

A foil olympic champion touches the heart of Angers' students

The Essca students association invited on wednesday a high level sportsman, Brice Guyart, several times world champion and gold medal in foil during the Athens Olympic Games in 2004. The issue of the conference, unfortunately followed by a too little number of students would have been nevertheless higly useful for persons whose carreers in private companies : "The management of failures and successes. the common values of sport and business".

In fact, Brice Guyart's carreers doesn't sum up to high level sport because he is graduated from another business school, the ESCP-EAP and now works for the Sncf. From his experience at the top of the world sport and the daily life of a french company, Brice Guyart delivered numerous lessons and among these, the difficulty to resume life after a success like an olympic title. "For years, you dedicate yourself to the achievement of a goal, then you got it. What is going on after?". An anecdote unveils the kind of person he is. 

"After my gold medal at the olypic games, I was the guy to defeat. And it occured during a France championship. My competitor was so happy to defeat that Iwas ahppy for him!", he said. He touched the assistance's heart.

14 September, 2011

The new Angers Loire Valley website doesn't "Live large"

"Angers Loire Valley", the new brand of the city, has now its own website. That launch makes the new communication strategy of the city a reality. But such a policy will only stay an abstraction if it is not appropriated by the Angers inhabitants. And that is what the website clearly intends to promote : the identification of the people to a city which, in many fields (economy, education, environment) goes ahead. But, a visit in the texts of the website, show the batlle is far from being won...

There is nevertheless a change the city should have developped. In the rules of use of its new brand "Angers Loire Valley", clearly inspired by the wish to be understood in English, the web site unveils a logo entirely written in English (p 27) : "Angers Loire Valley, Live Large". Why this signature would not be used in that way?

The initiative triggered some negative perceptions among inhabitants but, in general, the opinion is quite in favour of that initiative, because people are aware of a fact : English is the international language and Angers has to cope with that. So instead of exclaiming "Live Large", the website should to "think large" and, in order to help the city in its international recognition, also be written... in English!

13 September, 2011

The "Accroche-coeurs" are also "Accroche-customers"

If the 2011 edition of the "Accroche-coeurs" has been once again a success among Angers inhabitants, it has also demonstrated that these are eager to meet vitality in down town. Of course the shows organized in different parts of the center of the city attracted hundreds of people, like the puppets show at Saint-Eloi square on sunday night. And many others visitors experimented a pleasant change of scenery, like in the Deux-Haies street completely transformed in a Chinese way during that popular event.

But the most scheming fact is the waiting line of people at mobile shops selling, most of the time, down-market food. So the inhabitants, even during harsh economic times, have always a little money to spend. That calls into question the restrictive policy implemented by city hall regarding the opening of stores on sundays. Recently, the mayor of angers complained about the opening of a Leclerc super store on sunday mornings at Saint-Jean-de-Linières.

In an appeal to respect a "positive cultural caracteristic of French society", Jean-Claude Antonini recalled the sundays were, above all, a day for rest an family life. But during that time, the streets of down town are empty, with only a few people roaming through a silent down town whose atmosphere is very, very different of the Accroche-coeurs. When will come the time for the Accroche-customers?

12 September, 2011

"Kiss my ass", answers Azz'Art , Angers' poster artist to an anonymous collector

"My drawing is a revenge, the expression of my disap-pointment", says Azz'Art, an Angers poster artist who works, always with legal permission, on public or private walls. That time, his site takes place on plywoods behind which, soon, will appear the extended store of an hairdresser located at the angle of Romain square and Saint-Laud street, in Angers downtown.

A few days ago, Azz'Art had, "with the authorization of the store owner", he points out, "posted a huge collage whose only remain the staples. Somebody stole it during the night", regrets Azz'Art. "Even if that person took it for its own satisfaction, what would be gratifyning for me, I'm a little bit sad", he says. Ignoring the name of the author of that theft (no remains of his collage have been found, so the hypothesis of an anonymous admirer is credible), Azz'Art decided to send him a message in his own way : a drawing. 

So, on sunday afternoon a huge character had take the place of the collage. The character turns one's back on Azz'Art's stealer expressing the trouble of the artist regarding the disappearance of his collage. But that time, created with paint sprays, the work of the street art designer will not be stolen... "Kiss My Ass", signed Azz'Art...

10 September, 2011

English comes in at Angers medecine school

An initiative "unique in France" has been recently implemented in the Angers medecine faculty regarding English. Since the beginning of september, a teaching in medecine is delivered to about forty foreign students and a dozen of French students coming from Nantes and Angers. These French students presently in the third year of their studies have been selected "for their interest and their knowledge in this language" for a six month course.

That news raises a first question : either the level of scientific Angers students is very low in English (only eight come from that city), or the selection was very demanding. The result demonstrates, one more time, that the language education is in France in a bad shape, compared to the working habits, and the results, of Germany or Netherlands. That is moreover a difficulty for students whose discipline is dominated, it's not the only one in sciences, by English.

The second question, perhaps more worrying, comes from the aims of that policy : "to promote the (international?) moblity of students and their employability by international organizations". That would not be debatable if the number of medecine students in France were sufficient to meet the needs of the French population. But it's, not at all, the case. In fact the learnig of English should be, in French schools, much more anticipated and generalised on several fields of knowledge.

09 September, 2011

The remains of the Roman era under Lorraine square

It is always a surprise to discover the presence of ancient times a few feet above the ground on which we walk. The redevelopment of the Lorraine square give an example, among others, of this observation. A few weeks ago, the place was levelled by excavation machines and all the cobblestones were cleared. Then some parts of the sites have been carefully clean up in order to give way to archeologists.

These have already opened little holes and trenches from where ancien objects are emerging : pieces of ceramics, glasses or remains of buildings? According to the first research a open air market or a group of craftmen were active there. But all that part of the city was already occupied by inhabitants during the Roman era. A few months ago, a former temple dedicated to the god Mithra was discovered under the Saint Louis clinic since demolished. Years beforce, in Arênes street, others remains of the Roman era were revealed to Angers inhabitants. And twenty years ago, when the building of the Leclerc parking lot, much more remains of the past have been returned to day light.

Within a few months, a new Lorraine square will take place burying for the second time the remains of a distant passt.

06 September, 2011

The number of requests of VeloCité bikes should trigger an early opening of its offices

It's always difficult to get a bike from VéloCité in Angers. For example, foreign students arriving in the city for a few months are very surprised when they learn it's almost compulsory to queue at Angers VeloCité to get a bike from 7.00 am. Recently, according to the testimony of one of them the waiting queue was longer than 100 m... And the phenomena is frequent, and during some periods of the year, the candidates aveo wait in front of the offices of Angers VéloCité even sooner than 6.00 am.

If that queue shows there is still a demand of bikes, it also demonstrates that the answer of the city is not very professionnal. First of all, wouldn't it be better to open the Paul Bert street's office sooner? That would spare hours of wait in the night and the cold of winter to numerous persons. A permanent access to bikes in stations (it's the system in most of the cities where bikes can be rent) wouldn't it be more suitable? With the present system, bikes are always "rent" - for free - but are, in reality, unused during most of the time because their users are studying.

In comparison, the system of VéloCité+ is much more accessible. Bikes are always available in front of the railway station because they are never rent. The comparison with VéloCité explains why : if the rent lasts several months, the user is not charged (VéloCité); when the bike is needed for less than a day, the rent is not free (VéloCité+). Queue of people for bikes in a case; bikes with no customers in another! For both cases, who is to blame?

05 September, 2011

The "Anglish" language on front side stores of the city

The English language still continues to spread in Angers city. If, since a long time now, many names of stores have links with English, if there are now numerous pubs in Angers whose atmosphere and almost signs "sound" English, if more and more shops of garnments refer clealy to UK civilization, the Shakespeare' language goes now a little bit further now. Since the end of summer holidays, and in somes cses before, shops' owners speak directly to their Angers customers in English.

On Lenepveu street, a new store denominated Brandy & Melville highlights its reference to the British world using a little notice on its frontside telling to pedestrians : "Come in, we're open" or " Sorry, we're closed", convinced these will surely understand. The case is not isolated. If, of course, the use of English words is not amazing in places where English is supposed to be spoken ("My Favorite place", in L'Espine street or the English Library in Angers, in Boisnet street), some examples are more surprising like a store of copying machines located in Mendes-France square which indicated : "Closed for holidays" (And the phenomena is true on other places like La Baule with "Gone tanning").

But this is not the only Indications of the trend. Still on Lenepveu street, the Levi's store speaks in English to the passer-by a maybe meaningfull slogan for "Anglish" speaking people : "now is our time".

04 September, 2011

Angers' housing and environment policy looks to concentrate jobs at the expenses of others

Credit Alm 
Angers Loire Métropole want its inhabitants to give their opinion regarding the future of the territory. A poster campaign had started on the beginning of september whose aim is to draw the people not to public meetings but to a little travels by bus throughout several places built and natural of its territory. In a foreword, Jean-Claude Antonini on the Angers website points out one of the main objects of the scheme : to contain the urban sprawl because that one endangers the diversity of the territoriy. 

According to Mr. Antonini, 80 ha have been built per year on Alm territory from 1996 to 2005, ie. 800 ha in ten years. Compared to the overall area of Alm, 51 000 ha, that looks few. Even if a part of this area is already built, is there such an emergency? Moreover, the dynamic housing policy of Angers itself (whose ambitions are visible with the cranes on the new Saint-Aubin district) which aims at drawing new jobs with these new homes, looks a little bit contradictory with the statement of the mayor.

One explanation would be a concentration of the housing - and jobs - in the center of Alm. but what will be left to others. If natural places become scarce, employment become as much.

02 September, 2011

Terra Botanica, for lovers of gardens

With the month of september and the... sunny days, when most of the people have already resume their working life, the weather is appropriate to discover Terra Botanica, the Angers leisure park dedicated to the plant universe. The place is quiet and pleasant but at the same time a little bit sober and without big suprises. That is may be a little inadequacy : the lack of entertainments one may see in that king of theme park.

Terra Botanica is may be designed for people found of gardening, even if, there is no, but may be it will come, a division showing the different categories of gardens : "à la française" or english landscape garden... So, for that kind of public, the park is adjusted : every flower or vegetable has its tag describing the origins and sometimes the uses of the plant. But more important, the designers have perfectly reenacted the charm of such places (medieval garden or parsonage gardens) where owners can find quiet and rest (even such gardens are the result of a lot of work).

One of the most intriguing aspect of the place is... outside the place. At the entrance of the park a small bridge steps over a disaffected railway line. The whole likes to sleep in a valley surrounded by plants from where an emeral green light is falling, giving to the visitors a foretaste of the mystery of nature.

01 September, 2011

Angers Marcé Airport faces troubles to take off

According to some local medias, the Angers Loire airport would face difficulties. A Italian airline company, Air Vallée, would be hampered by the technical problems on one of the two aircrafts it dedicated to the service of Angers. That lead the company to cancel all its flights to Barcelona during august. Nevertheless the flights could resume from the end of september.

The airport had announced at the beginning of 2011, the launching of a new line to London, but this one is not yet effective. And it's the same to another European destination : Brussels. These postponements or these cancellations would not be serious if they were the first. But it is not the case. According to some observers, the reasons are a lack of promotion and may be an insufficient technical equipment. If the traffic has soared in 2010 (more than 4 200 passengers compared to less than a thousand the year before), the airport is far to have reached its capacity (50 000 persons).

The regular succes it has get on the last years is the meeting "Anjou Retro Wings" : the airport was over flied by the Airbus A 380 unable to land because the runway is too short. Observers think the running of the airport is short too.