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Angoulême in the southwest France, department Charente is not that well known to tourists and yet it makes for an excellent visit with a raft of attractions from a unique “treasure room” to a world famous comic museum…

5 things to do in Angoulême

From enjoying stunning views from its perch on a plateau to museums and fabulous restaurants, there’s lots to do in Angouleme

Le Cite de la Bande Dessinée et de l’Image

Comics (bande dessinée, "BD" - the "drawn strip") are big in France where they’re considered a serious and respected art form. Angoulême, with its museum, is the world capital of comics. It feels like every street reflects this love of art and even in the lovely covered market place there are reminders. The Le Cite de la Bande Dessinée et de l’Image is an enormous Museum with thousands of original examples, some of the earliest comics in existence.

Each January there is a major comic festival in the town and fans arrive from all over the world to join in the comic fun! Details: http://english.citebd.org/

Cathedrale Saint-Pierre and its “Treasure room”

“Le Trésor” has to be one of the most unusual ‘attractions’ anywhere in France. Unlike many of the grand cathedrals of France, Angoulême‘s is Romanesque, not Gothic. Made from white stone with a stunning carved façade it is beautiful and ancient, the original parts dating back to the 12th century though it’s been modified over the years. What sets this Cathedral apart though is the quite extraordinary “Le Tresor” by artist Jean Michel Othoniel, and nothing prepares you for the burst of colour you experience when you enter the three rooms he has “decorated” at the top of the Cathedral. Blue and gold are the predominant colours and glass artworks that are quite simply mesmerising. The treasures are ancient religious relics and church objects. Guided tour bookable at the tourist office – unmissable.

Museum of Angouleme

Right next door to the Cathedral you’ll find the Museum of Angoulême. Fine arts are stored here, plus one of the largest collections of arts of Africa and Oceania. It also presents the history and evolution of Angoulême with some outstanding exhibits dating back millennia. Well worth a visit.

Dine out

There are loads of great options for a gastronomic break from fine cuisine to rustic but head to the old part of town and stroll the warren of narrow roads lined with all sorts of options. One of our favourites is La Bulle Gourmande in rue de Genève, where the friendly staff make you feel welcome and feed you like you’re family. A small but tasty menu of seasonal local produce and a fabulous wine list. (Details: www.facebook.com/pages/category/French-Restaurant/La-bulle-gourmande)

Enjoy the views

This is a city in which to to wander and wonder. There are dozens of wall murals that make you go “wow” – they are so impressive. Created by comic artists of renown they give this town a real air of artistic quirkiness.

Top tip: Pick up a map of where the wall paintings are located from the tourist office.

Take a stroll through the lanes and boulevards and you’ll notice that there are distinct districts. Enjoy wide open spaces, elegant squares (Place Francis is lovely for sitting at a café watching the world wander by), grand buildings and stunning views from the ramparts.

More on what to do in Angoulême: www.angouleme-tourism.com

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