Baugé France: Baugé is one of those pretty little French towns that make you want to give everything up and move to France to live a relaxed life surrounded by history and where spectacular little cafés seduce you from thinking about real life for as long as you like.
Officially “a small town of character”, its appeal is large.
First of all there’s the town itself, an urban oasis surrounded by glorious countryside, a recognised “Plus Beaux Detours” (most beautiful detours), where you will find not just one church with a twisted spire, but six! Old shops brimming with character, restaurants serving great food, those charming cafés I mentioned where you can sit on the terrace and watch the world go slowly by. This is not a fast paced place.
Then there’s the castle. Pre-Renaissance with an ancient Plantagenet staircase over with an awe inspiring vaulted ceiling. Climb these steps and look up and you can’t help but wonder what those bricks might tell us if they could talk about what’s gone on here.
The Apothecary of Baugé
Just down the road from the Chateau is the jewel in the crown of Baugé, one of the most beautiful apothecaries of France in an ancient hospital.
Astonishingly the hospital, a vast chateau like building created in 1675, was in use right up until the 1940s.
Even more astonishing is that the pharmacy of the hospital looks exactly as it did when it was built and that many of the medicines on the shelves are several hundred years old.
Full of pots and boxes, there are more than 650 in total, this wood panelled room gives us a glimpse into the past that makes you shudder. Get sick in the 18th Century and you might be prescribed the powder of mummified fingers, apparently!
One of the rooms remains as it did when the hospital closed to patients in the 1940s. It is an incredible time capsule. A round shelf unit for babies to be placed on with a mosquito net over the top looks like something out of a rather weird fairy tale, looked down on by stern faced nuns, the sisters of St Joseph, from the paintings on the walls. Indeed the nuns were the nurses here and there are many reminders of their presence. Not least because there are still nuns living on the site.
It’s a fascinating place – allow at least 2 hours to take it all in.
How to get there:
Baugé is located 40 km east of Angers, 280 km from Paris, and 70 km from Tours.
Bus connections are available at SNCF railway stations in Saumur, Angers, La Flèche and Le Mans.