The hub of the town is place de l’Hôtel-de-Ville. The town hall was erected from 1858 to 1866 on the site of the palace of the ducs d’Angoulême, where Marguerite de Navarre, sister of François I, was born. All that remains of the palace are the 15th-century Tour de Valois and 13th-century Tour de Lusignan.
Cathédrale St-Pierre, 4 pl. St-Pierre, was built in the 11th and 12th centuries and restored in the 19th. Flanked by towers, its facade has 75 statues, each in a separate niche, representing the Last Judgment. This is one of France’s most startling examples of Romanesque-Byzantine style. The 19th-century architect Abadie (designer of Sacré-Coeur in Paris) tore down the north tower and then rebuilt it with the original materials in the same style. In the interior, you can wander under a four-domed ceiling. It’s open Monday to Saturday 9am to 6pm, Sunday 10am to 6:30pm.
As the European capital of comic book art, the city is home of the Cité Internationale de la Bande Dessinée et de l’Image, 121 rue de Bordeaux (www.citebd.org; tel. 05-45-38-65-65; July and Aug Tues–Fri 10am–7pm and Sat–Sun 2–7pm; Sept–June Tues–Fri 10am–6pm and Sat–Sun 2–6pm), which might just be the best resource for graphic art lovers in Europe. It offers a complete history of French and American comics, with over 12,000 original drawings in an exhibition space that also shows audiovisual sequences of the artists drawing their works. A library, book shop, research center, and two cinemas add to the interest. Entrance is 7€ for adults, 5€ for students under 26, 3€ for children ages 10 to 18, and free for children 9 and under.
To get out into the city itself, you can walk along the panoramic promenade des Remparts, a path that flanks the site of the long-gone fortifications that once surrounded the historic core of Angoulême. The most appealing section of the 3km (1.75-mile) walkway is the 1km (.5-mile) section that connects the cathedral with Les Halles (the covered market). Views from here stretch over the hills that flank the River Charente almost 75m (246 ft.) below. Or stroll the Circuit des Murs Peints (Graffiti Walk). Famous graphic artists such as Florence Cestac and Marc-Antoine Mathieu have created over 20 commissioned pieces of graffiti and street art at various public spots around the city; the tourist office has a walking tour map.
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