Saumur in Atlantic Loire Valley is easily recognised by its fairytale château and is famous for its association with horses - the area around the town is even known as the Kingdom of the Horse.
Home to France's cavalry training school and the famous Cadre Noir, an elite display team that showcases the traditions and brilliance of French horsemanship, there is always something equestrian going on in Saumur. Pageants and displays happen frequently in the town with many riding schools close by and you can explore the town in a horse-drawn barouche carriage to take in the sights.
The graceful Château de Saumur stands proudly on a bank overlooking the river Loire and houses several different museums. Though Saumur was bombed during World War 2, the château survived unscathed.
Just outside of the town you'll discover the troglodyte caves carved out of a beautiful soft limestone called tuffeau stone which has been used in many buildings and monuments in the town and surrounding area. This magical series of dwellings was hewn from the rock thousands of years ago and they are now mainly used for mushroom farming and as cellars for wine aging.
Saumur is also home to the Musée des Blindés, the largest tank museum in Europe with over 880 armoured vehicles. Inside the troglodyte caves you will also find the Musée de Champignon (museum of mushrooms) where you can see the cultivation of several types of mushroom.
Whilst in the area you can't miss a trip to one of the many local vineyards such as the Caves de Grenelle which age their wines in the ancient cave systems. Why not sample some of these award-wining local wines of the Loire Valley, especially the sparkling white wines, with the Saumur specialities of la fouée, a small toasted bread for filling, and galipettes, the famous champignon de paris mushrooms stuffed with goats cheese, butter and herbs.
With such brilliant growing conditions in the Loire Valley, the fresh produce available at the Saturday morning market is definitely worth tasting. Saumur is also full of clothing boutiques and other food stores with patisseries and chocolateries.
Nearby are the historic and cultural cities of Angers and Nantes, and the beautiful Château de Montsoreau. Not to be missed are the pretty château and underground fortress of Château de Brézé, the Château de Villandry and its majestic sculptured gardens which are said to have been the inspiration for the gardens of Versailles, and the Fontevraud Abbey, once the most powerful abbey in France and where King Henry II, Eleanor of Aquitaine and their son Richard the Lionheart were buried.
Holidays in France
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GITES AND COTTAGES IN FRANCE
HOTEL HOLIDAYS & BREAKS IN FRANCE
FAMILY HOLIDAYS IN FRANCE AND SPAIN
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Getting to France
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