Angers is a city in western France, about 300 km (190 mi) south-west of Paris. It is chef-lieu of the Maine-et-Loire department and was the capital of the province of Anjou until the French Revolution. Not including the metropolitan area, Angers is the third most populous commune in north-western France and the 18th in France.
The Angers Loire Métropole is made up of 29 communes. For centuries, Angers was an important stronghold in north-western France. It was the cradle of the Plantagenet dynasty and became one of the intellectual centres of Europe during the reign of René of Anjou. Angers developed at the confluence of three rivers, the Mayenne, the Sarthe, and the Loir, all coming from the north and flowing south to the Loire. Their confluence, just north of Angers, creates the Maine, a short but wide river that flows into the Loire several kilometres south.
Today, Angers stands out for its specialisation in the plant sector: Végépolys is Europe's leading horticultural competitiveness cluster, and the city is also home to the headquarters of the Community Plant Variety Office. In addition, the Angers metropolitan area is a major economic centre in western France, particularly active in industry and tourism. Angers enjoys a rich cultural life, made possible by its universities and museums. The old medieval centre is still dominated by the massive château of the Plantagenêts, home of the Apocalypse Tapestry, the biggest medieval tapestry ensemble in the world. Angers is also both at the edge of the Val de Loire, a World Heritage Site, and the Loire-Anjou-Touraine regional natural park.
The early prosperity of the town was largely due to the nearby quarries of slate, whose abundant use for the roofs of Angers led to its sobriquet as the "Black City". In the mid 19th century, the principal manufactures were goods for sailing ships (sailcloth and rope), linen and hose, sugar, leather, wax, and oil, as well as agricultural products (mainly wheat, wine, and fruit). By the time of the First World War, Cointreau had developed the distillation of liqueurs from the area's fruit to an industrial level. Local companies produced cables, wires, and thread and increased production of footwear, umbrellas, and parasols. The area's vineyards focused on sparkling wine and fruit was increasingly preserved for sale elsewhere. The area had also developed a small-scale textile industry and begun producing machines, as well as commercial-scale production of hemp and flowers. Present-day Angers provides 45.7% of the Maine-et-Loire job positions. It is the 22nd largest national job provider and the 3rd largest one in north-western France.
Cointreau continues to produce its orange triple-sec liqueur in nearby Saint-Barthélemy-d'Anjou. Modern Angers produces Scania trucks at Ecouflant and computers by Bull, Packard Bell, and NEC. It also supports research labs investigating horticulture and biotechnology. Thanks to its several higher education schools, laboratories, and various offices, Angers is the largest horticultural centre in Europe and, as the home of the Community Plant Variety Office, Angers is the hub of the plant breeders' rights system in the European Community. For example, Angers is the leading hydrangeas producer in Europe. The local economy also relies on the presence of many administrative, educational, and health institutions. There are also many small firms, chiefly focused on the agricultural tradition of Maine-et-Loire. Angers also serves as a regional financial centre, with many banks and insurance companies (including Afone, CNP Assurances, Crédit Agricole, Fiducial, and Groupama) maintaining their regional offices there.
Angers is an important convention centre, with a present convention trade of around €8,000,000. The Parc des Expositions, where fairs are currently held, welcomes 600,000 visitors and more than 300 events each year. It is the biggest structure of its type in north-western France.
Angers has a population of over 218,657 people. Angers also forms part of the wider Angers metropolitan area which has a population of over 422,700 people. Angers is the #233 hipster city in the world, with a hipster score of 3.2228 according to the Hipster Index which evaluates and ranks the major cities of the world according to the number of vegan eateries, coffee shops, tattoo studios, vintage boutiques, and record stores per 100,000 city residents.