Angers, France, known as the gateway to the chateau country, is a lively university city 182 mi/294 km southwest of Paris, full of half-timbered houses and Renaissance mansions.

As the medieval capital of Anjou, Angers was once ruled by Henry II of England, father of Richard the Lionheart and King John. The town has an old medieval center dominated by the massive chateau of the Plantegenets, a formidable 17-tower fortress. Another key attraction is the biggest medieval tapestry collection in the world, including the stunning 14th-century tapestry depicting scenes from the Apocalypse according to Saint John. There is also the splendid three-tower, 12th-century Hospital of Saint Jean and the Saint Serge Church with its impressive vaulted apse.

For a great view, climb the Tour du Moulin, one of the 17 fortress towers. Also, when visiting the fortress, be sure to see the chapel, the Logis Royal and the dungeons.

Other sites worth visiting are the Logis Barrault with its fine-arts museum and the Hotel Pince Museum, which houses an interesting collection of Japanese and Chinese ceramics and Egyptian, Etruscan and Greek antiquities.

For an original and amusing museum tour, try the Musee Cointreau, which explains in-depth the making of the famous liqueur Cointreau. There is a bar that provides samples and out-of-the-ordinary cocktails at the end of your tour.

As is the case in many French towns in the summer, Angers has a music festival, combining jazz, classical and world music in addition to dance performances and singing recitals. The festival invites artists from around the world and is held in July and August.

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