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Running in Angoulême: world capital of comics

Perched on a rocky spur overlooking a meander of the Charente, Angoulême is a city that has managed to combine past and present, and is resolutely looking to the future. Although Angoulême's main claim to fame is its famous comic strip festival, it is also a city with a rich history and much to offer. Testimonies of the past rub shoulders with recent developments to form a city full of charm that attracts many visitors every year. Come and discover the city of the Valois thanks to the audio-guided tours offered by the town!

Vue d'Angoulême
View of the city

As the former capital of the Angoumois region, Angoulême was an important crossroads of communication routes and was for a long time a coveted stronghold. Although it suffered many sieges and had a tumultuous past, it became an intellectual and artistic centre in the 16th century, thanks to the Valois family.

The 19th century was synonymous with prosperity, thanks in particular to the development of industries (paper mills, foundries, etc.), which today make Angoulême one of the most industrialised towns in the region.

Old Angoulême

Because of its strategic location, the Angoulême spur has been inhabited since the Stone Age, and several fortified enclosures were built in Gallo-Roman times to reinforce its natural defensive position. Destroyed, rebuilt and reinforced several times, the ramparts were levelled and the gates demolished in the 19th century to allow the town to expand. All that remains today are a few vestiges dating from the 4th, 13th and 16th centuries, which can still be seen throughout the town. Some of the ramparts have been converted into a promenade, offering a lovely view of the Charente.

Vue de la cathédrale Saint-Pierre à Angoulême
St Peter's Cathedral

Unlike many cities in France, Angoulême has a Romanesque cathedral, not a Gothic one. Built in the 12th century, Saint-Pierre cathedral owes its survival to the architect Paul Abadie fils, who undertook a vast restoration campaign in the 19th century. A true architectural gem, listed as a historic monument since 1840, the cathedral's impressive western façade is adorned with rich sculptures and bas-reliefs. The most curious will not hesitate to push open the doors of the building to discover an interior full of amplitude and light.

Along the way, you'll also come across the town hall, once the residence of the Counts of Angoulême. Blending medieval, classical and Renaissance styles, all that remains of the former château comtal are the Lusignan keep and the Valois tower. It was in the Valois tower that Marguerite d'Angoulême, sister of François I, is said to have been born. The building was converted into a town hall in the 19th century and has been listed as a historic monument since 2013.

Capital of the 9th art

At the heart of a region with a paper-making tradition dating back to the 18th century, Angoulême was destined to become the capital of the comic strip. The love affair between the city of Angoulême and the 9th art began in the 1970s with the creation of the first comic strip festival. Every year since then, professionals and enthusiasts have come together for four days to celebrate their love of this versatile and popular art form.

The festival may only take place once a year, but the 9th art can be found in every corner of Angoulême. Your stroll will take you on a discovery of the twenty or so frescoes honouring comic strips that adorn the walls of the town: Lucky Luke, Titeuf, Blake and Mortimer... discover all your favourite heroes as you wander through the narrow streets of the town centre and the more outlying districts. Don't miss the magnificent trompe-l'oeil entitled "La fille des remparts", which incorporates elements of the surrounding environment such as the stone railings and the windows of the house.

Le musée de la bande dessinée
The Comic Strip Museum

The route is also dotted with a number of statues in tribute to comics, including that of Lucien, Margerin's hero, and that of Corto Maltese, which welcomes visitors to the Comic Strip Museum. Housed in the Chais Magelis buildings, it boasts a collection of drawings, original plates and related objects that is unique in Europe. The museum is part of the Cité internationale de la bande dessinée et de l'image, which also includes a library, an art cinema, exhibition galleries and more.

Along the water

La Charente
The Charente river

As well as its historical and cultural heritage, Angoulême has an exceptional natural heritage. With the Charente running through it, the town offers a bucolic setting for a wide range of water sports and leisure activities, as well as lovely walks and cycle rides. The "Au bord de l'eau" (by the water) trail takes in the rural landscapes along the river, including the old towpath, which has been converted into a green corridor.

Your walk will also take you to Ile Marquet, the town's natural jewel with a long history. Home in turn to allotments, a sawmill and a plaster mill, this nature reserve of nearly 8 hectares is home to a wealth of flora and fauna.

Run, walk or ride with JOOKS, from the Comic Strip Museum to Saint-Pierre Cathedral!

Find all the routes in Angoulême and over 1,300 others on the JOOKS application.

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