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Angers, Angers, Loire Valley's insider take:

The cradle of the Plantagenet kings and former capital of the counts of Anjou is perhaps the most agreeable of the main Loire cities. It is dominated by its powerful castle, with 17 massive round towers, where the dainty white limestone of the Loire Valley alternates with thick black stripes of local schist ( ). Within the ramparts, a special building houses the town's star sight, the extraordinary 345-foot-long 14th-century Tapestry of the Apocalypse, a virtuoso medieval cartoon strip of the battle between good and evil. East of the castle in the tastefully restored old town, you'll find a Plantagenet cathedral, the Musée des Beaux-Arts (housed in a striking former abbey), and plenty of upscale shopping.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.