The historic town of Saumur is located in Western France, between the rivers Loire and Thouet. Some of the finest wines in France are produced in the vineyards surrounding the town. Walking and cycling through the scenic surrounds are the best we to take in all the Saumur has on offer.
Saumur is best known by military history buffs and horse-lovers alike as the home of the equestrian display team, Cadre Noir around which the National School of Horsemanship was established in 1928. It is still renowned as one of the most prestigious schools of horsemanship in the world. Guided tours of the stables are available, as are viewings of the School’s training sessions.
Like something from a fairy tale, the 14th century Château de Saumur towers over Saumur and the Loire River. Within it are two museums – the Decorative Arts Museum and Horse Museum . Close by on the opposite bank of the river, the castle of Beaulieu is also worth a visit. Another place of interest is the Tank Museum housing over 850 armoured vehicles.
If you are travelling with children, they will certainly enjoy a trip to the Doué la Fontaine. The zoo houses over 500 animals including several endangered species and it is unusually located within an old quarry site, providing plenty of open space for the generously-sized enclosures in which animals roam.
Built predominantly from stone, the town itself is most picturesque, with the vast majority of old buildings constructed from beautiful Tuffeau stone. In town, you will also find Saumur’s oldest church, the Notre Dame Nantilly, containing a stunning collection of tapestry dating back to the 16th century.
Despite its old character, the town is very cosmopolitan, boasting a fashionable shopping district as well as an array of fine restaurants, bars and cafes to suit all tastes and budgets.
If you have time to explore the surrounding countryside during your visit to Saumur, there are plenty of other interesting places to see, including the Rochemenier Troglodyte Village situated approximately 20km out of town. Here you will find a museum displaying Troglodyte stone dwellings characteristic of those carved into the cliffs on the Loire River from the 12th century. The wine growers’ caves in the villages to Saumur’s east are also very interesting, as to are the miniature carvings of the Loire Valley’s most well known attractions which can be found in the underground galleries of the Park Miniature Pierre and Lumie.
For more information on things to do in and around Saumur, visit the Tourist Office located at the Place de la Bilange where information is available on the many sites and attractions around town which are suitable for all ages and interests.