Set high on a hill, this capital of the Charente region in South-west France is steeped in history. Its old walls, built in the Middle Ages, surround the medieval town, and traffic winds round its narrow cobbled streets.
In deference to its love of comic strips, visitors can find some of Angoulême’s walls decorated in cartoon-style murals. France is home to over 1,000 comic strip writers and Angoulême pays homage to them with over 1,000 street name plaques in the shape of comic-style speech bubbles.
Comic Strip Museum
Most famous of all is the Museé de la Bande Dessinée (comic strip museum). Here visitors can explore the origins of the comic strip and its impact on the world, both culturally and politically. Not only does the museum showcase France’s comic strip heroes but it also features comics from throughout the world, from other comic strip loving countries, like Japan.
Angoulême International Comic Strip Festival
What Cannes is to movies, Angoulême is to comics. Every year in January the town hosts a comic strip festival (Festival International de la Bande Dessinée) which draws comic strip enthusiasts from all over the globe. During this time its population swells by around 200,000 — all eager to participate in the festival’s 4 days of films, competitions and interactive events.
The International Comic Strip Festival first began on January 25th, 1974 after a comic exhibition of 1972 entitled 10 Million Images became a roaring success. Such is the following of the comic strip (bande dessinée) in France that the French refer to it as the ninth art. Many around the world are familiar with Frances’ favorite comic strip heroes such as Asterix the Gaul. The comic strip is held in such high regard that it is considered on a par with other reading material — so much so that they are used in French school curriculum. Angoulême is also home to the biggest comic strip bookshop in the world.
The festival’s dedicated website (in French and English) has information on ticket prices and details of all the events. The 38th International Comic Strip Festival will be held between 27th – 30th January.
Angoulême’s Circuit des Remparts
The 3rd weekend of every September sees motor racing enthusiasts converge into Angoulême to witness 1 of the only 2 street races in Europe. Not as well-known as its neighbor Monaco, Angoulême’s Circuit des Remparts is a series of races for classic pre-war and post-war cars around the historic narrow streets and rampart walls of Angoulême. There are 3-days of activities including vintage and modern car exhibitions and an international rally where drivers cruise around the vineyards of the region. This year’s events take place from 17th to 19th September, 2019.
Angoulême is a Medieval town full of character and history, with an imposing cathedral. From the remparts (old town walls) there is a spectacular view of the Charente valley. For those who find themselves in the area during mid-September, the annual remparts race is a unique spectacle. Angouleme’s tourist office has details of the main attractions on its website and information is available in English.