The historic town of Saumur is situated in the central Loire valley between Angers and Tours. 

 

Of all the Loire's comfortable towns, Saumur is perhaps the most elegant, with its graceful Chateau towering  over the handsome townhouses spread out below on both banks of the river and on the large island mid-stream.

 

Both the local Saumur Champigny and sparkling wines are renowned for their charm and are relatively inexpensive. Further afield, Bourgeil, St Nicholas de Bourgeil, Vouvray and Chinon also offer very good and affordable wines to the serious wine connoisseur.

 

There are also many inexpensive restaurants around La Place St-Pierre, Rue de St Jean and Rue de St Nicholas in addition to a multitude of cafes and bars. For a special treat, head up to the Chateau, where La Orangerie serves the most haute cuisine in town.

 

Saumur's cavalry traditions are displayed most proudly at the Ecole Nationale d'Equitation in St-Hilaire-St-Florent. The Riding School provides guided tours in which you can watch training sessions and view the stables. Displays of dressage and battle manoeuvres by the Cadre Noir, the former cavalry trainers, are regular events.

 

The stretch of the Loire from Chinon to Angers, which passes through Saumur, is particularly lovely, with the bizarre troglodyte dwellings carved out of the 'tuffeau' cliffs. The Zoo de Doue, located at Doue La Fontane, only a few miles from Saumur is a fabulous day out and is sited in an old quarry with much evidence of troglodyte dwellings.

 

The history of the Loire valley is typified by the many Chateaux including not only Saumur but Chenonceau, Montsoreau, Villandry, Breze and Montreuil-Bellay to name but a few. Also not to be missed is the Abbey at Fontevraud; the resting place of Richard the Lion Heart.

 

For further information we recommend the Saumur Tourist Information website which also contains an excellent video of the local attractions at:

http://www.ot-saumur.fr/

"Saumur is a horse mad, Loireside stunner"

 

Sunday Times Travel Supplement, June 2008