Free activities you can do without a guide
Walks in nature
It is well known that Angers is a green city. Nature is right on its every doorstep, so why not make the most of it by exploring one of the many parks and gardens in the surrounding localities? The enormous Pignerolle park to the east of Angers has wide alleyways and narrow footpaths through the trees, offering a great way to stretch your legs and relax amidst greenery. Further north, the André Delibes park, in Verrières-en-Anjou, is ideal for walks or bike rides. You have the option of an easy or a longer trail to match your level. To the west of the city, at Parc de la Guyonnière, you can rest at the foot of huge trees and there is even a free family orienteering course that you can do at any time to discover the park’s remarkable trees.
To the north of Angers, spend a magical morning along the Loir river and at the Villevêque water mill visitor centre, L’Engrenage. If you’re not so much of a morning person, aim to get there for lunch and enjoy a relaxing picnic on the grass opposite the mill. Tranquillity and relaxation are guaranteed! Afterwards you can continue your walk along the banks of the Loir.
For those curious about nature or for bird or plant enthusiasts, stop off to observe the outstanding plant and animal life on the edge of Montreuil-Juigné marsh, in the heart of the Basses Vallées Angevines wetland area. This Natura-2000 site, which is free to visit, has viewing decks offering a superb view across the entire marsh.
Many other ideas for walks or hikes are also available with detailed route instructions.
Looking for a way for you and your kids to let off steam? Hop on your bike and set off as a family just outside Angers, along the Vélo Francette bike route that runs between Ouistreham and La Rochelle and includes a section in our area along the Mayenne river. On the way, stop off to observe the amazing spectacle of boats passing the Montreuil-Belfroy lock and picnic in the shade of the bamboo at the nearby picnic area. Afterwards you can continue your ride towards Saint Aubin island, another treasure to discover in the direction of Angers.
On the south side of Angers, along the Loire à Vélo bike route, you can make a stop at the remarkable Mediterranean garden in Sainte-Gemmes-sur-Loire and enjoy some drinks at the Port-Thibault riverside café just beside it. Those looking for a longer ride can continue onto the traditional village of Béhuard and to the tip of the island where there is breathtaking view of the “royal” river. For those not up to the ride, Béhuard island is accessible by car and is also nice to walk around.
The Parc des Ardoisières in Trélazé in another stunning site. Covering nearly 250 acres, the park’s scenery is quite remarkable, as is the colour of the water in these former slate quarries that have been disused for several decades. From the viewing platform, you have a 360° view of its slate fields, bright blue lakes and arid Mediterranean vegetation. This park is home to some of Angers’ most unusual scenery and is a must on the list of places to visit.
If you prefer a dip in the water, Lac de Maine on the edge of Angers or Les Sablières in Écouflant are the perfect places to cool off on hot days. Here we’ve selected several places where you can swim or paddle without having to go far from Angers.
Something to eat while you’re out and about
Everyone knows fresh air makes you hungry! For refreshments or some food while you’re out exploring in spring or summer, there’s no end of choice. Facing the Mayenne river, the riverside café or guingette La Rainette is a relaxing spot. If your little ones fancy a crêpe and you a bolée of cider, the shaded terrace of the Crêperie du Passeur is good place to go. Another suggestion for a snack is the bookshop and tearoom Le Mot de la Faim just beside Port de Juigné.
On your way back from a walk along the Loire? Take a break and enjoy the guingette atmosphere of En Rouge et Loire in Les Ponts-de-Cé or Le Héron Carré if you’ve taken the route along the Maine. Relax and admire the natural views, read a book, and enjoy some food and drinks. Take your time and savour the moment!
Other outdoor activities
Not far from the banks of the Loire is Jardin des Kangourous (in french) in La Possonnière, a large park where wallabies wander freely and often allow visitors to approach them. It’s a great place for an outing with kids before exploring the banks of the Loire or a trip to Terra Botanica, a park with lots to do on the theme of plants.
Another great way for kids to get close up to animals – of a less exotic kind – is a family outing to an educational farm like Asinerie du Dolmen. A donkey ride is a fantastic way to spend some time together with your children outdoors.
If you don’t fancy a cruise on the Loire or the Maine, why not take a boat out on the Mayenne? You can rent a boat or barge-style Penichette and pass the Montreuil-Belfroy and Sautré locks. Stop for a break at the Montreuil-Juigné riverside halting site for a picnic facing the river.
Prefer vineyards to animals? Visiting one of Anjou’s wine estates is another wonderful way to get some fresh air. Some estates offer themed or family-oriented tours. A good dozen wineries in the area take visitors into the vines on their tours. Producers are always delighted to share the secrets of their savoir-faire and even have you taste their wines, in moderation of course.
Looking for something unusual to do? Soar up high to admire the superb scenery around Angers. The view from the sky is amazing and the sensation of flying in a balloon is definitely something you’ll never forget! Flying over the Loire and the vineyards along the river is a real adventure in its own right. You might spot some places you recognise and when you’re back on firm land you’ll never see the area in the same way again!
Exhausted by all the fresh air? Enjoy an incredible night of star-gazing from your bed, in one of the stilted tents of the Rives de Mayenne campsite.
Fun ways to learn about nature
All year long, the Maine-et-Loire fishing federation offers taster events for adults and children (in french). The Maison de l’Environnement also offers a programme of nature activities for all the family. The mission of this centre near Lac de Maine on the edge of Angers, is to raise awareness on the environment and sustainable development. If you’re more curious to learn about birds, the LPO (national bird protection league) also organises regular nature outings where you can learn about the biodiversity of Anjou.
Prefer getting active in nature rather than watching it? That’s no problem, around Angers there are plenty of outdoor activities to suit everyone!
Kayaking is a gentle way to start, with friends, family or as a couple. One nice route to try is on the Sarthe river from Écouflant and around Saint-Aubin island. To kayak on the Loire, check out the canoeing clubs in Les Ponts-de-Cé or Bouchemaine which can rent paddle boards too.
Looking for something a little more exhilarating or an activity on dry land? Why not explore the vineyards on a mountain bike or take a guided tour of them on an all-terrain electric scooter. Exploring the hilly banks of the Loire will bring you thrills and great scenery combined. Guided segway excursions are also available for a novel way to enjoy the outdoors.
And if you prefer an adventure in the countryside, the terrain of the Basses Vallées Angevines is ideal for trying gravel biking, a new form of cycling using a cross between a mountain bike and a road bike. This latest trend in cycling is very well suited to the trails north of Angers and offers plenty of thrills, with or without a guide.
Ways to relax
Want to unwind after all the excitement? In Angers, you’ll find a selection of revitalising activities, sometimes in original outdoor locations, such as sylvotherapy (forest bathing), or yoga at the Héron Carré guinguette with a great view of the Maine.
See our other ideas of things to do in the outdoors – there’s certain to be something that matches your taste. And what about things to do when it rains in Angers? Most of the activities above are of course best in dry weather, but don’t panic, we have solutions to make sure you have fun even when it’s raining!