30 June, 2012

A new pavement tax project leads Angers storekeepers to demonstrate on streets

A fiscal revolution has just appeared in Angers and maybe in France. The pavement tax, the Angers city council plans to implement at the beginning of 2013 "will not be, of course, compulsory for the store keepers of downtown", said Jacques Motteau, deputy mayor in charge of commerce. So what is the goal of such a tax? Mr Motteau's answer sounds incredible : "the city of Angers prompts the store keepers to reconsider the reception of their customers inside their shops". 

Phew! Many people could have believed the tax was devised to make money for the city! The most astonishing is some local medias look to believe such foolishness. In times of harsh difficulties for the Angers downtown store keepers and their customers, such a measure is hardly swallowed. 

Some of them gathered in Ralliement square on saturday and plan to launch a petition against the project. Users of parking facilities in Angers made clear that they will not travel throughout the town with the public transports if the fares were more important. On that field the reasons of the increase of fares, expressed by Vincent Dulong, other deputy-mayor, is those fares should be lower in Angers compared to Le Mans or Nantes. So what?

These measures are symbolic of the present trend in many cities. Avignon intended to implement the same taxe which was cancelled by justice. Instead of decreasing expenses, they choose to increase revenues. Angers is embarked in costly projects and among them the new banks of Maine, a second trolley line, a giant swimming pool, a city for solidarity. To finance such schemes, it should be wiser to reconsider present expenses because too many taxes kill taxes... (Credit picture : Wikipedia)

29 June, 2012

In Saint-Laud street : Motard Lunetier launches a clink of an eye

While some streets of downtown Angers are declining because of the economic crisis or the consequences of the tramway, others are gaining in touch and fame. That could be the case of the Saint-Laud street, one of the oldest streets of Angers because it could have been created during the Roman period. Divided by the Roë street, the Saint-Laud street, little by little, is recovering its charms of ancient times. 

After an hairdresser has undertaken the restoration of the groundfloor of an old building, an optician has doubled the surface of its store and above all had gave it back its charm. Motard Lunetier is first a stylishness frontside covered by a sheen black spotlighted by a narrow copper line. But of course, the interest is inside. Here, the sunglasses and eyeglasses are displayed as if they were artistic items and have to be choosen like fashion accessories. Old frontside but new selling methods. 

The owner took the initiative of a party on wednesday, inviting neighbouring store keepers. It was a pleasant and original evening with surprising meals and wines. Two big choppers at the doorstep of the store were a wink refering to the name of the host. The store is now ready to cruise for a long journey on success'road.

27 June, 2012

Angers is on the Planet ... Sushi

The japanese sushi has now fully integrated the Angers restaurants landscape. A Planet Sushi opened on Foch boulevard is the third fastfood on that way after the US Mc Donald's and, more recently, the french VF. Located in front of the Saint Aubin street, the 20th restaurant the french brand created in 1998 by a Paris businessman. 

Few by few, the main street of Angers takes a new faces. The old stores opened a long time ago by local businessmen which sold luxury items leave room to trade mark stores selling perishable and ephemral goods. Probably the most visible symbol of the economic trend the city is now following.  Angers is sensitive to the image and fame of japanese cooking. Another restaurant opened almost two years ago in Plantagenet street. In that field too, the attachment of Angevins for their traditionnal cuisine looks fading. 

Credit picture Planet Sushi
The Angers restaurant of the Planet Sushi offers different formulas : the menu and the deliveries at home. The pink looks to be a trendy colors because the neighbouring restaurant Boeuf Framboise has the same shade. but the likeliness stops there.

26 June, 2012

Angers city will collect more taxes on the pavements

"Many a mickle makes a muckle". That popular sentence is probably in the mind of many Angers town councillors who fear the decline of the municipal receipts while the pace of expenses is different. So the city tries all means to collect more money. Two have recently been unveiled by town hall. First, a pavement-tax enforceable to all stores or private activity which uses a space on the pavements. Second a important increase of parking fares.

The first way will lead stores owners to pay 130 euros per month for every linear meter used by them to their business. Every cash dispenser will lead a bank to pay 1 500 euros per year to the city. Some town councillors of the minority at the municipal council  objected that suche measures were unequal : a sandwich seller whose the front side of his store is open on 3 m long will have to disburse 390 euros monthly (4 680 euros per year) which could be passed on the selling prices...

The second way is a soaring of the parking fares which could double in some cases... Such a measure doesn't indignate local media which consider it normal because no increase has been passed during the last 14 years... A minority town councillor even considers it too little : Bernadette Caillard-Humeau complains about the existence of free parking in town like the La Rochefoucault square. That time, the new mayor will not be able to punish her. It has already been done.

25 June, 2012

Angers city want a new tv channel next year

A new local tv is in the air. According to some Angers medias, the city council should debate on June 25 about the issue in spite of the several failure of previous attempts, the last ended in 2010 with TV 10 then Angers 7. Frederic Beatse could unveil a project supported by Angers city and Angers Loire Métropole which will hold together the majority of the capital stock. 

That prompted the mayor to to limit the ambitions of the channel : a budget of 1 million € per year, les than 10 employees and ads revenues of 300 000 per year in three years. Angers city and Angers Loire Métropole both plan to invest 228 000 €. Others investors will have to join in order to fufill the stock capital (400 000 €).In order to lewer the cost, the future channel will only be visible on the net. 

 The problem is there : how to attract private investors? The channel will have to put itself on an editorial line a little bit different of the municipal line (Mr. Beatse promised he will respect the editorial independance) in order to get ads and audience. But with the municipal elections in 2014, it could be tantalizing to take the channel for a platform.

24 June, 2012

The Plantagenet petition takes an unforeseen way : the return of Anjou to England

If the "Plantagenet petition" made public about a month ago on the Angers citywebsite has got a limited number of supporters, a fact is nevertheless amazing. Among the 57 "people who like it" and 38 "people talking about this", a significant part of the messages published on the page of the petition are written... in English by English subjects of queen Elizabeth II.

"Angers demands return of British Crown Jewels", reports the website www.guide2paysdelaloire.com which explains why Angers citizens want their jewels back and hightlights the part of the former Comté d'Anjou in the history of the United Kingdom. But some of the posts suggest an original and unforeseen angle of analysis.

Instead of demanding the return of the jewels to Angers, the petition should demand the return of Anjou under English sovereignty. "I propose gathering an army to liberate the Angevins from the tyrrany of French Republicanism, returning the city to the Crown of England. Fear not, brave souls of Angers, we are coming! God Save the Queen", wrote one of them.

23 June, 2012

Angers would choose a second trolley line disminished by half

The undetermined postponement of the Angers South expressway predicted correctly the priority given by the members of the Angers Loire Métropole board for a second tramway line. According to some informations published recently by local medias, the B line would, nevertheless, shorter than foreseen. The reason? Money. The Angers authority, affected by the decrease of its receipts, would decided the construction of an "half line".

At the beginning, it was planned that the second line would link Beaucouzé to the exhibition park of Saint-Sylvain d'Anjou along 16 kms. The new project has recently been downsized : the B line would link two Angers districts : Belle-Beille to Monplaisir (12,8 kms). According to Luc Belot, deputy mayor of Angers in charge of the project, the cost per km is 20 millions euros, i.e. 256 millions euros.

(Credit picture, Cramos, Wikipedia)
 The problem is the second line will run, at best, in 2020... in spite ot the fact that its route looks much more interesting than the A line. Belle-Beille is the most important location of students in Angers. The end of that line is less justifiable. The cost of the trolley is partially financed by the private sector. And no industrial zone in Angers is served by the tramway...

21 June, 2012

The legislative ballots should lead the Angers right political apparatus to reconsider his backings

The results of the legislative elections in Angers have confirmeda premonition : some changes could be in way inside the representation of the city in the National Assembly. After mandates in 1988, 1993, 1977 dissolution), 2002 and 2007, Hervé de Charette, 74, a politician from right and center, was defeated by Serge Bardy, 65, his socialist challenger. For the outgoing representative, numerous change may explain his defeat : the age, the social changes in the constituencie (which is influenced by the extension of the city of Nantes oriented to left) his political evolution from right to centre and probably an erosion after five mandates.

Another major change was close to happen. If the former minister, Marc Laffineur, 67, whose constituency covers a part of Angers city, has been reelected, his margin is extremely narrow : a few dozen of voices against his challenger. In his case, the phenomena of erosion is maybe at work : Mr Laffineur was elected in 1988, 24 years ago and that could be his last (national) mandate. Such outcomes should lead the sponsors of their candidacies to think about the opporunity to renew the political staff after 3 mandates. Because the political fate of their constituencies follows their own political fate. Maybe constituencies are not properties?

13 June, 2012

The car traffic spotted by Angers town hall

After the postponement of the development of an express way at the South of Angers and the choice for a second trolley line, displayed by the city council as an alternative, after the recent decision to implement in down town, new speed regulations, the choice in favor of the containment of car traffic is confirmed. While the max speed along the main way of Angers, the Foch boulevard has been lowered to 30 km/h, such a regulation will be extended to new streets of Angers.

A "street code", a  pun from "road code", plans the lowering of max speed in some adjoining streets of Saint-Serge/Ney/Chalouère et Justices/Madeleine/Saint-Léonard districts of Angers while the main axis will remain at 50 km/h. If "the objectives are multiple", writes the Angers website, the last - but not the least - is "to stimulate the development of no motorized trips".

Simultaneously, the Chamber of commerce and industry published a few weeks ago a survey about the number of pedestrians in Angers down town. The Angers city council could rely on that documents to promote further measures in the months to come. The first could consist in the revision of the rules about the loans of bikes...

11 June, 2012

The left is in progress in Angers and new faces could emerge with the 2nd ballot

In the four constituencies of Angers, the first ballot of the legislative elections saw a increase of the left and some difficult conditions during the second ballot for some leaving candidates. In Angers town 1, the socialist Luc Belot is ahead (41%) the Ump leaving member of Parliament (Mp), Paul Jeanneteau (34%). The stock of supporters look more important for Mr Belot than for Mr Jeanneteau. That constituency was during a long time acquired by Roselyne Bachelot, former minister of health.

In Angers town 2, the leaving Mp, Marc Goua, should be reelected. He missed the reelection in the first ballot with a very narrow margin and was above the 50% in Angers poll stations. The second ballot should be without surprise. In Angers town 6, the reelection of the leaving Mp, Hervé de Charette, former foreing minister, is not already won. His challenger, Serge Bardy is not very far from the former minister and could benefit of a better transfer of voices, even from the right electorate. In Angers Mr Bardy is ahead.

In Angers town 7, the situation of the leaving candidate, Marc Laffineur, himself minister till the late presidential elections, is not sure at all. Mr Laffineur could be defeated by his challenger Sylvia Camara-Tombini. In Angers Mrs Camara-Tombini reaches 45% and Mr Laffineur 28%. So a new generation and a new balance right-left could emerge in Angers.

10 June, 2012

Yoga : now an Angers way of training in English

Silently and relaxed, English is widening its presence in Angers. After the numerous ads visible in the city front stores, the courses about English dedicated to the youngest Angevins, the English-Language library in Angers, the tea room My Favourite Place and more recently, even it is not written in English, the petition for the return of the UK jewels crown to Angers, another way of learning English has taken en new way : yoga.

A "Yoga classe in English" is now accessible in the La Madeleine district allowing people, not only to "A mindfulness approach developing calm, clarity and a sensitivity to the responses of the body and the breath", but also to a better understanding of English through informal talks : almost a subliminal way of training in English. The classes of yoga are handed out by Celeste, a certified yoga teacher by the British Wheel of Yoga.

If Celest has imported English spoken yoga in Angers, a former Angers inhabitant learnt discoverd yoga in US where she decided do settle there for almost twenty years. It is not said yoga is taught in French...

09 June, 2012

Contradictions of French law regarding foreign people visible in Angers

Monplaisir District (Credit : Wikipedia)
Sometimes, French laws look to contredict themselves in the field of integration of foreign people. Recently in Angers, the situation of a young Armenian boy, Boris, legitimately touched its neighbours and friends. At school in Henri Dunant, an Angers lycée which teaches technical education to people attracted by manual job, Boris is under a threat of expulsion from France, only for administrative reasons. The young man, who learns boilermaking, and is near to get a degreee in that field, has no trouble with the police and demonstrated his desire to settle in France.

A few hundreds meters from Henri Dunant, a father of four chidren, is accused to have killed his wife with weapon with a blade. That man, native from Kosovo, had accused his wife to have an extra-marital relationship. He recognized he killed her. He and his family had asked asylum in France.

A demonstration in Angers on June 8th
So that man will stay in France for trial and in jail during years. How will react the children he killed the mother? Will he be recognized by these he will not see before years? Fortunately, the French state authority in Angers granted to Boris to extend his staying in France, but only on a temporary basis. But the threat still exists he could have to leave the country for a another one, more hospitable while the father accused of murder, if sentenced, will still be there.

08 June, 2012

The Angers city hall website attemps to stimulate people to vote in spite of an archaic system

On June 10th and 17th, Angers inhabitants, and French, will have to vote in the two ballots of the legislative polls. Angers city hall explained to inhabitants on its website how to vote in spite of their absence. The problem is, even if a person has found another one and will vote thanks to that proxy voting, for the person depositary of the proxy voting, things are quite complicated. And that may discourage voters to carry out their right. So the abstention could be important for the two ballots.

In fact, the person who will vote on behalf another one has to go in the same poll station! For example, if a Angers inhabitants has no possibility to vote because he is in holiday or outside for professionnal reason, he will have to find out another elector who is available to go to the polling station where the first person is registered... And that, the Angers city website doesn't explain it.

These modalities of vote look quite behind time with the arrival of internet which allows, wherever a person is, to realize financial operations on one's bank accounts. It's even possible now to pay one's taxes by internet in spite the fact that, in France, there is still no tax withholding like in the United Kingdom. The efforts of the Angers city to stimulate the civic spirit could run up against the fact that the French material modality of vote are archaic.

07 June, 2012

Haendel's music : England in Madeleine church

The Madeleine church hosted on June 6th the Plantagent choir which performed The Messiah, from Haendel. The audience, as attentive as during a religious service got what it was looking for : an immersion in a solemn, reverential and enchanting atmosphere.

Placed in the transept, under the highest vaults of the church, the choir, the orhestra and the solists got there the best echo to their performance emphasizing the polyphonic caracteristics of the Haendel's masterwork. The only wrong note was the unpredictable absence of the bass.

The performance was maybe an unvoluntarily tribute to the Elizabeth II jubilee with Angers choirs and orchestra bearing the name of the royal Anjou dynasty of England. Haendel was himsel an English copposer (born in Germany) who settled in London in 1712.

As darkness invaded the Madeleine church, the Haendel's Messiah,one of the best-known and most frequently performed choral works in Western music, with its famous Hallelujah, reigned over the Angers public.

05 June, 2012

Angers castle : a new royal home succeeds to itself

The royal home of Angers castle, destroyed by a fire three years ago, has risen from the ashes. On January 10 2009, many Angers inhabitants saw, powerless and incredulous, the fire ate up the roof, the framework as well as the ceilings and the floors of that historic building located at the core of the castle, itself the main Angers monument. In that days of 2009, dozens of firefighters pulled manually their pipes in the fortress while a thick grey smoke escaped from the buildings, mesmerising car drivers around.

Credit Pictures Wikipedia
On the following morning, the royal home displayed a pure desolation : the walls of the building were grey, their windows opening on dark vacuum and, all around, junks on a surface empty without any plants or trees. Hopefully, seven ancient tapestries were withdrawn from the scene. Questionned about his feelings, the mayor of that period said "it was frightening because a part of Angers history had vanished in smokes".

Almost three years later, the royal logis opened its doors to visitors. The works of local companies has re-done the building completely. Angers companies gathered 300 000 € and inhabitants 30 000 €. The costs of the works were 7 millions €. And the place, which belongs to the state and not to the city, will again host visitors from next summer.

04 June, 2012

Angers down town is recovering from the tramway line works

Ralliement square (Credit Picture Angers city)
Sometimes, future is different of what is foresaw. Since the beginning of the works on the Angers first tramway line in march 2008, it was said that the stores located in down town would not survive to the difficulties for pedestrians or drivers to come, to walk or to park one's car during the works. On the opposite way, the same stores of down town had feared that the opening of L'Atoll, the giant commercial park, near Angers, would definitively ruin their prospects of good turnover.

But, first, the pedestrians who left down town Angers for shopping between march 2008 and june 2011, came back. According to a survey of the Maine et Loire Chamber of Commerce and Industry realized last November, "Even if a decrease of the number of passers-by is noticed between 2009 and 2010, the flow increased again and even reached a peak with 311 823 daily transits". More : the flow of pedestrians is more important in some streets than it was before the trolley, that's particularly true in Roë street. And the passers-by are more numerous in the bottom of the left bank than they were formerly.

On the opposite, it was widely predicted, even by the stores owners of Angers down town, that L'Atoll would hurt their turnover. According to some observers, the commercial park recorded a good affluence on the first weeks. But recently, the activity would have slowed down. One element could explain that trend (even if the management of L'Atoll foresees 6 millions visitors while only 3 were predicted) : the offer of products and services which is not very different of what it was before L'Atoll because many stores already in Angers joined the commercial complex.

A second national brand asks for an opening of stores on Sundays

As it was predictable, the polemical issue regarding the opening of stores on Sundays is resurfacing. According a report published by an Angers web media, one of the national brand present in the new commercial park of Angers, L'Atoll, the house furnishings. But, even if the first two months are quite satisfactory, "what we would like now, is to open all Sundays", says the manager of the But Angers store. 

The outcome is not surprising. All the stores which came to L'Atoll have now to make beneficial their investment in the place. A first assessment of the two first months of running, the opinions would be rather mitigated. All the commercial surfaces are not rented. About 7 000 m2 are always free on 71 000 m2 available for stores : 10%. Moreover, the wish to attract more passers-by stimulate the storekeepers of L'Atoll to wish new brands in the field of culture and food superstore. What could make the L'Atoll equivalent to a new district of Angers. 

So, if the complex reaches its goal to get such new stores, the pressure in favor of the opening of the stores of L'Atoll on Sundays will increase. Culture (cinemas, bookstores) is a field in which people are eager to purchase on weekends. In Angers medias, many inhabitants and lobbies got indignant about the idea of working on Sundays after a superstores (Leclerc) decided to open on Sundays mornings. An idea it gave up in the first weeks of 2012.

03 June, 2012

The discount day : the thermometer of the recovery of Angers down town

The Angers discount day will take place on July 7th. One of the most important event for the animation of Angers down town, interrupted in 2010 because of the works on the trolley line, was close to be cancelled in 2011. Finally, the attractivity of the event, both for the customers and the storekeepers, has overcome the disagreements between town hall and the organizers. In 2012, the discount day could be a success because it joins the worryings of many Angers households, eager to buy items at unbeatable prices.

Generally, these can be got in stores and stands in the crowded streets. But the Angers discount day has another interest. The core of the city is that day absolutely full of people. The streets are closed to traffic and are places to talk and to do shopping. The stores themselves take benefit of this day to enlarge their surface on the pavements.

After difficult years because of the trolley works, Angers down town is now plagued with boards "for sale" ou "to rent". So the discount day is important to give confidence to all inhabitants and authorities that the heart of Angers is still alive.

01 June, 2012

The tragic fate of Edward Plantagenet touches the heart of Les Accroches-Coeurs 2012

The 2012 of Les Accroches-Coeurs due to take place in Angers on September 7, 8 and 9 will perfectly match to one of the themes recently disclosed by its organizers. The execution of Edward Plantagenet, last pretender of an Anjou dynasty which gave 14 kings to England between 1154 and 1485 or 331 years, was really an unfair and horrible murder. Edward was the son of Georges Plantagenet who was accused of plot against his own brother, the king Edward IV, during the English civil war known as the War of roses. 

It was the only "crime" of Edward Plantagenet, born in 1475, and jailed in the dark London tower at the age of 10... The young boy spent his existence in that jail till 1499, year of his execution by order of the new king Henry VII. Probably isolated from the rest of the world, it is difficult to imagine it would have been able to devise and implement a plot against the King... 

The organizers of Les Accroches-Coeurs have maybe considered the tragedy of such a fate and decided to use it as a theme of their event. The question has probably, with centuries, lost all its affective dimension but the nature of that crime is clearly political. In that way, the fate of Edward Plantagenet is unfortunately contemporary. Regarding the jewels of the British crown, all are posterior to the death of Edward. But a petition of Facebook already gathered 200 signatories...