WEST LOIRE VALLEY château de saumurThe rock band Trust, wrote the song Saumur (named after the city) with lyrics that were critical of its bourgeoisie and militaristic posture. However, these factors are exactly what Saumur takes pride in; and this is well-reflected in their main tourist attractions.

Standing tall above the town centre, is the fairy-tale Château de Saumur [6 Rue de Lorraine+33 241402440 ad/ch €3/2.50] - a fairy –tale like building that was erected in the 13th century by Louis XI. Since then, it has functioned as a dungeon, fortress and country residence. Recently however, it was closed for restoration works and partially reopened, upon its completion. Currently, the grand castle houses a museum in its heart- displaying artefacts related to the city’s equestrian lineage and decorative art displays that date back to the Middle Ages, tracing the area’s history. Guided tours of the castle are available and only the showrooms, terrace and courtyard areas are open to public.

pride and joy of the town lies just east in the École Nationale d’Equitation [Autoroute 85, BP 207 - terrefort+33 241535050] . It is one of France’s most prestigious riding academies as it grooms its students for the Olympics and the world-renowned Cadre Noir display team. The Cadre Noir team is famous for its acrobatic moves and excellent horse handling skills which takes more than five years to master. You can spot these riders easily, with their distinctive black jackets that are fitted with gold spurs and wings. Guided tours are available.

The Musée Blindés [1043, route de Fontevraud,  +33 241836995, ad/ch€7/4] – a military museum that showcases various artillery ranging from armoured vehicles to weapons. There are many models, dioramas and the actual objects to keep you interested.

One of the off-beat attractions around the city is the Musée du Champignon [Route de Gennes,  +33 241503155 ad/ch 7/4.50] which would make for an interesting trip, as it is hidden away in a cave at St-Hilaire-St-Florent displaying the growth of these varied fungi.


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SAUMUR MAP:   1. Tourist office  2. Train station  3. Château de Saumur  4. École Nationale d’Equitation  5. Musée Blindés  6. Musée du Champignon 7. Château de Montsareau (east of map limits; zoom out to view) 8. Fontevrand Abbey (east of map limits; zoom out to view)