Angers trip

Mme Aileen Kelly

Brilliant summer sun and warmth graced the thirtieth anniversary celebration at the Château d'Angers to mark the founding of the ESU in France, and to honour our founder and National President Mme. Béatrix de Montgermont-Keil.

Forty-five members and guests of the ESU Loire Valley gathered at the Château d'Angers on Saturday 27 May at 10.30 am. An English speaking guide conducted 30 of us on an excellent tour of the Château, during which she explained the history of the building, and of its historical context, with special emphasis on the period during the hundred years' war! From the ramparts of the fortress, with its spectacular views of the rivers and bridges, we were then taken to the cool interior of the building housing the Apocalypse tapestries. There, our guide explained the commissioning of the tapestries by Louis I, Duke of Anjou in the thirteenth century, and the importance of this masterpiece of Mediaeval art from the workshops of Nicolas Bataille. She pointed out symbolic insights into some of the intricate details of the tapestries that we are sure we would not have appreciated without her expertise. Once outside again we were shown where the lions and camels used to be housed. At every stage of the tour we were fortunate to have a guide with really detailed knowledge to fully answer our questions.

Lunch was served in a room above the restaurant in the “Logis du Gouverneur”. During the aperitif our President welcomed our guests, in particular, Mme. Catherine Gaudin, a member of ESU Paris branch, who had kindly travelled to Angers to join us for our 30th anniversary celebration.

The founder and National President of the ESU in France, Mme Beatrix de Montgermont- Keil, was most unfortunately, not able to join us due to health reasons, but our President read us a letter from her wishing us all “a lovely day of celebration”.

Mme. de Montgermont-Keil and members of the committee of ESU France had prepared a text to be read out at the lunch by our youngest member, 15 year old Pauline Percevault, a student at the Lycée St. Louis in Saumur. We discovered the very interesting history of the ESU in France from its inception in 1987. Pauline must be congratulated for her reading of this lengthy text in English, particularly as she had just returned from a school visit to Spain to practise her Spanish. On behalf of ESU France, our President presented Pauline with a commemorative mug as a token of appreciation.

The sun continued to shine after lunch as we assembled in the gardens to be entertained by the Dorset Youth Marching Band, here on their annual visit to the Maine et Loire. To the amazement of the visitors to the Château who represented many countries of the world, the band paraded in full regalia, red tunics and cockaded hats, to entertain us all in the courtyard amid beautiful gardens in full bloom. Despite the heat, band members marched around the gardens entertaining everyone with a selection of stirring tunes. The youngest musician was just 8 years old. Cameras clicked all around to record this impressive and appropriate performance and finally the applause rang out in appreciation.

It was a most enjoyable ending to a memorable day.

I am sure our members and guests will join with us in thanking our Committee for their hard work in organising so successfully all aspects of this 30th anniversary celebration, this visit to the Château d'Angers: the tour, the lunch and the entertainment by the Dorset Youth Marching Band - it was certainly a day to remember!