With every village, visitors discover a little more of the rich and enigmatic Anjou region. You can’t help immediately fall for their charms. These Petites Cités de Caractère®, with their well-preserved tufa stone houses, narrow Medieval streets and vineyard scenery, reveal a colourful and picturesque side of Anjou. Come with us to discover these villages where history and the Angevin gentle life intertwine.
This picturesque island village about twenty kilometres from Angers is surrounded by the river Loire. Behuard is part of the Loire Valley UNESCO world heritage site and is one of the river’s treasures. One remarkable feature of the village is that it is built up high to resist against the floods that shape local life here. Wandering around, you will see chequered gables, elaborate dormer windows and Virgin Mary statuettes in the Medieval streets. The central element of this character village, however, remains its church which was built on a rock on the request of Louis XI.
By taking the path that runs around the island, you will also discover its preserved natural environment and the anecdotes of local fishermen about their village and its history. Visiting Béhuard is also about taking things slow and reconnecting with nature.
If there is an event not to be missed, it has to be the Fête de la Plate, a flat-bottomed boat race, which traditionally takes place after 15 August. All the people of Béhuard gather together for it and the atmosphere is great fun.
Life is rhythmed by winegrowing around the charming Petite Cité de Caractère® of Savennières in the Loire Valley. Once home to members of the Angevin bourgeoisie, the village overlooks the Loire and the surrounding area from its steep slopes. Since the 18th century, the village has been best known for the production of exceptional white wine*. AOC Savennières is made from the Chenin grape variety which is the Anjou wine region’s classic grape.
To explore the area, try walking or cycling the Savennières Vineyards route (“Sur les coteaux de Savennières”). Don’t hesitate to stop for a tasting at one of the local wineries that you’ll find en route.
In the village of Savennières itself, you’ll come across the Saint-Pierre and Saint-Romain church, considered as the oldest Christian building in Anjou. Its presbytery houses an exceptional oeuvre composed of oil-painted canvas panels covering nearly 20 metres of the walls of the presbytery’s former sitting room.
With the river Loire on one side and the vineyards on the other, the village of Le Thoureil and its narrow streets proudly remind us of its past as a harbour. This Petite Cité de Caractère® had a river shipping activity for centuries, in particular for wine and Guérande sea salt. Every year in May, the village pays tribute to its history during the Fête des Bateaux. During this special time, you can meet barge owners and see some forty or so traditional boats on the river. There is also a heritage trail along which visitors will discover well-preserved remains from the village’s heyday.
The bucolic “De Loire en Forêt” cycle route is also a great way to explore the Loire Valley. You’ll pedal through lush green surroundings and discover some enigmatic Angevin dolmens along your way. While on your ride, take a break at the restaurant La Route du Sel and enjoy a glass of Loire wine on its waterside terrace.
Following the river as it meanders along, you’ll come to the splendid listed heritage building the Abbaye de Saint-Maur, with its beautiful 12-hectare grounds and stunning viewpoints.
Churches, canonries, “cavier” windmills and breathtaking views are what you can expect in Blaison-Gohier. This authentic village is a captivating place with its lanes lined with mansions and picturesque dwellings.
A number of routes exploring the Angevin region pass through this Petite Cité de Caractère®. Choose whichever suits you, from audio-tour, hiking route or horse riding excursion.
Denée is a Petite Cité de Caractère® poised on a rocky outcrop overlooking the Loire. The old buildings of this former walled town allow visitors to retrace its past. Exploring the village’s different hamlets (Jubeau, Mantelon, Souvigné and La Jarretière) with their typical Angevin houses and 18th-century châteaux makes for a tranquil stroll. You might even stumble across a game of the traditional local bowls on your way.
Baugé en Anjou
This well-preserved former castle town offers visitors an immersion in historical architecture with its nine listed historical monuments and no less than 79 remarkable buildings. The elegant Château de Baugé is one of these treasures and offers visitors a unique animated tour. The “Parcours des Pas Bleus” trail is another must. You’ll see the former homes of the King’s advisers and the Second Empire courthouse along the way.
The Petites Cités de Caractère® scheme unites the different bodies involved in safeguarding, maintaining, restoring and promoting France’s historical character villages. Today, the network includes 43 remarkable villages with a commitment to developing tourism and urban facilities. Visit our villages in Anjou with their mix of unspoiled nature and French cultural heritage.