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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Coordinates: 47°15′36″N 0°04′37″W / 47.260000°N 0.076944°W / 47.260000; -0.076944

Commune of Saumur

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Coat of arms of {{{common_name}}}
City coat of arms from 1699 to 1985 City coat of arms since 1986
Chauteau Saumur 2.jpg
The château at Saumur
Saumur is located in France
Country France
Region Pays de la Loire
Department Maine-et-Loire
Arrondissement Saumur
Intercommunality Saumur Loire Développement
Mayor Michel Apchin
Elevation 20–95 m (66–310 ft)
(avg. 30 m/98 ft)
Land area1 66.25 km2 (25.58 sq mi)
Population2 29,857  (1999)
 - Density 451 /km2 (1,170 /sq mi)
INSEE/Postal code 49328/ 49400
1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km² (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.
2 Population sans doubles comptes: residents of multiple communes (e.g., students and military personnel) only counted once.

Saumur is a commune in the Maine-et-Loire department in western France.

The historic town is located between the Loire and Thouet rivers, and is surrounded by the vineyards of Saumur itself, Chinon, Bourgueil, Coteaux du Layon, etc. which produce some of France's finest wines.

The Saumur City Hall
The Cessart bridge



Saumur is home to the Cadre Noir, the École Nationale d'Équitation (National School of Horsemanship), known for its annual horse shows, as well as the Armoured Branch and Cavalry Training School, the officer school for armored forces (tanks). There is a tank museum, the Musée des Blindés, with more than 850 armored vehicles, wheeled or tracked. Most of them are from France, though some come from other countries such as Brazil, Germany, or the Soviet Union.

The School of Saumur is the name used to denote a distinctive form of Reformed theology taught by Moses Amyraut at the University of Saumur in the 17th century. Saumur is also the scene for Balzac's novel "Eugénie Grandet", written by the French author in 1833 and the title of a song from hard rock band Trust (whose lyrics express their poor opinion of the city: narrow-minded, bourgeois and militaristic).

Saumur was the location of the Battle of Saumur (1793) during the Revolt in the Vendée.

Main sights

Amongst the most important monuments of Saumur are the great Château de Saumur itself which stands high above the town, and the nearby Château de Beaulieu which stands just 200 metres from the south bank of the Loire river and which was designed by the architect Jean Drapeau.

The architectural character of the town owes much to the fact that it is constructed almost exclusively of the beautiful, but fragile, stone known as Tuffeau.

World War II

During the during Battle of France, in World War II, Saumur was the site of the Battle of Saumur (1940). In 1944 it was the target of several Tallboy and Azon bombing targets from Allied planes. The first raid, on 8 June/9, 1944[1], was against a railway tunnel near Saumur, and saw the first use of Tallboy bombs. The hasty night raid was to stop a planned German Panzer Division expected later through the tunnel. No. 83 Squadron RAF illuminated the area with flares by 4 Avro Lancasters and marked the target at low level by 3 de Havilland Mosquitos. 25 Lancasters of No. 617 Squadron RAF then dropped their Tallboys with great accuracy; one pierced the roof of the tunnel, brought down a huge quantity of rock and soil, and blocked the tunnel for a considerable period, badly delaying the Panzer IVs.[2]

On 22 June of the same year, 9 B-24 Liberators of the United States Army Air Forces used Azon glide bombs against the Samur[3] Bridge; escort was provided by 41 of 43 P-51 Mustangs. During the morning of 24 June, 74 American B-17 Flying Fortresses were again dispatched to the bridge; 38 hit the primary and 36 hit Tours/La Riche Airfield without loss; escort was provided by 121 of 135 P-51s.[3]

Notable people

Saumur was the birthplace of:

The French mathematician Abraham de Moivre initially studied logic at Saumur.

Marquis de Sade was briefly imprisoned in the Château de Saumur (then a jail) in 1768

Twin towns

The town is twinned with:


  1. ^ "Saumer Tunnel, 9th June 1944". Royal Air Force Bomber Command 60th Anniversary. UK Crown. Retrieved 2007-05-24.  
  2. ^ "Campaign Diary". Royal Air Force Bomber Command 60th Anniversary. UK Crown. Retrieved 2007-05-24.   1944: June, July, August, September, October, November, December
  3. ^ a b "8th Air Force 1944 Chronicles". Retrieved 2007-05-25.   June, July, August, September

External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Panoramic of Saumur
Panoramic of Saumur

Saumur [1] is a small historical town in the French region of Pays de la Loire, site of a dramatically situated château and the heart of its own world-renowned wine district. Population 30,000.

Get in

Saumur is roughly 70km east of Angers and 80km west of Tours. Saumur is best accessed by train from Tours, Angers and other larger surrounding towns. Flights into Tours Airport (45mins by train), Angers Airport (25mins by train) or Nantes Airport (1h30m by train) would be the most appropriate method of reaching Saumur from European countries.

Saumur is also easily accessible from Paris via Tours. Tours (St-Pierre-des-Corps station) is a short trip from Paris; onward travel would involve using the regional SNCF service to Saumur.

Get around

During low and mid season (Oct-April) public transport in and around Saumur is skeletal. Bus services often run a few times a day to Parnay, Turquant, Montsoreau and Fontevraud. However, services often do not run on Sundays.

Do be aware that bus timetables now include services that are available by request only. These are highlighted in yellow columns in timetables provided by the Tourist Information Office. On these occasions, the bus will only run if you request the service at least 24h before the service is due to depart. The number needed is provided on the timetables and is free of charge. Your accommodation hosts or the tourist office could potentially do this on your behalf.

Taxis are available in Saumur itself but are often prohibitively expensive to destinations outside Saumur. These can be arranged at the tourist office, restaurants and hotels.

Most locals continue to rely on their own car and parking is reasonably easy. There is a large Pay & Display car parks in Place de La Republique and bays on the surroundign roads. Free parking is available on the river bank and in a large car park at the Ecole de Cavelrie on Rue Beaurepaire.

  • the Château de Saumur
  • the Wine district in St Hilaire-Florent (home to Bouvet-Laudbay, Ackmerman and Cointreau) is a short bus ride or walk from the centre of town
  • the Museé des Blindes (tank exhibition)
  • Monsoreau Chateau
  • Abbaye de Fontrevraud [Burial site of Eleanor of Aquitane, Richard the Lionheart, Henry II] (approx. 10km from Saumur)
  • Underground mushroom cultivation (5km towards Monsoreau)


The town itself is relatively quiet and low-key with an array of boutique shops and winding cobbled streets. However, the majority of sights to see in the area are found in the suburbs and surrounding areas.

  • Saumur Market - there is a weekly Saturday morning market in Saumur centered on P. de Roosevelt. Goods include clothing, music, flowers and fresh produce.

There are a number of events in the summer months that bring the otherwise quiet town to life:

  • May - Fete de rue St Nicholas (free), sponsored by the many restaurants and shops in this central street. Usually over a weekend it has a "carnival" theme.
  • June 21st - Fete de la Musique (free), celebrated throughout France on the same day each year, Saumur plays its part with numerous busking bands and main stages in Place de la Republique and Place St Pierre.
  • July 14th - Bastille Day/Quatorze Juillet (free), bands throughout the town and a fireworks and lights display on the banks of the Loire. One of the few nights you must book if you plan to eat at a restaurant.
  • Early August - La Grande Tablee (£) - A huge open air celebration of local produce (wine, mushrooms, fruit, goats cheese and more wine). It is free to attend and tickets can be bought on the night which provide a re-fillable wine glass and a tasting plate. Originally one single night, it is now spread over two or three evenings.
  • Saumur is famed for its locally grown mushrooms.
  • Saumur also produces a number of regional wines and the famous Combier liqueurs.


Saumur has a fine selection of low and mid-priced restaurants spread around the town. Choice is somewhat limited on Sundays and public holidays.


  • Le Pause Gourmande (£) - Good food provided - in the centre of town near the bank. Quiet ambience with polite staff.
  • Brusselles Cafe (£) - Extensive Brasserie menu and very fast efficient staff. One of the few eateries to serve lunch past 2pm and dinner past 9pm and very relaible quality.
  • Le Tire Bouchon (£) - Near the river bank in the cntre of town. Quality bistro style with a number of "out of region" dishes not found elsewhere
  • Le Bigoudan (£) - Excellent creperie in Rue St Nicholas with a Brittany theme and good range of cider.

Finer food and slightly more formal settings can be found at L'Escargot, La Pyrenne and La Gambetta which are all on streets slightly off the main town area and diners are more likely to be local than tourists. Expect to pay 50 euros per head with a local wine.


The majority of drinking establishments are centered on Rue F. Roosevelt in the centre of town by the theatre, in PLace St Pierre and in Place de la Republique. All three locations are within walking distance and linked by Rue Saint Jean.

  • Hotel Londres (***) - On the main high street - clean, well-maintained accommodation at a reasonable price.
  • Hotel Cristal (***) - Overlooking the Loire river with views from some rooms.

Get out

Saumur is ideally situated in the Loire Valley to facilitate day trips to Angers, Tours, Le Mans, Poitiers, Nantes and even Paris; all of which can be accessed (either directly or indirectly) from the local train station. Services can vary - therefore check local timetables before departure.

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

SAUMUR, a town of western France, capital of an arrondissement in the department of Maine-et-Loire, 28 m. S.E. of Angers on the railway to Tours. Pop. (1906) 14,747. Saumur is well situated on the left bank of the Loire, which here receives the Thouet, and on an island in the river. A large metal bridge connects the Tours-Angers railway with that of MontreuilBellay, by which Saumur communicates with Poitiers and Niort. Two stone bridges (764 and 905 ft. long) unite the town on the island with the two banks of the river. Several of the Saumur churches are interesting. St Pierre, of the 12th century, has a 17th-century facade and a Renaissance nave; and Notre-Dame of Nantilly, often visited by Louis XI., who rebuilt portions of it, has a remarkable though greatly damaged façade, a doorway and choir of the 12th century, and a nave of the 11th. Both these churches contain curious tapestries, and in the latter, fixed in the wall, is the copper cross of Gilles de Tyr, keeper of the seals to St Louis. St Jean is a small building in the purest Gothic style of Anjou. St Nicolas-du-Chardonnet, in the Gothic style of the 12th century, has a fine modern spire. Notre-Dame of Ardilliers, of the 16th century, was enlarged in the following century by Richelieu and Madame de Montespan. The hotel de ville, containing a museum and library, is an elegant 16th century edifice; and the whole town is rich in examples of the domestic architecture of the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries. The house known as the Maison de la Reine Cecile (15th century) was built by Rene, duke of Anjou. The castle, built between the 11th century and the 13th, and remodelled in the 16th, is used as an arsenal and powder magazine. There is also an interesting almshouse, with its chambers in part dug out in the rock. The famous cavalry school of Saumur was founded in 1768 and is used for the special training of young officers appointed to cavalry regiments on leaving the cadet school of St Cyr. Other public institutions are the sub-prefecture, tribunals of first instance and of commerce, a chamber of commerce, a branch of the Bank of France, colleges for both sexes and a horticultural garden, with a school of vines. Saumur prepares and carries on a large trade in the sparkling white wines grown in the neighbourhood, as well as in brandy, grain, flax and hemp; and it manufactures enamels and rosaries and carries on liqueur-distilling.

The Saumur caves along the Loire and on both sides of the valley of the Thouet must have been occupied at a very remote period. The Tour du Tronc (9th century), the old stronghold of Saumur, served as a place of refuge for the inhabitants of the surrounding district during foreign invasions (whence perhaps the name Saumur, from Salons Murus) and became the nucleus of a monastery built by monks from St Florent le Vieil. On the same site rose the castle of Saumur two hundred years later. The town fell into the hands of Foulques Nerra, duke of Anjou, in 1025, and passed in the 13th century into the possession of the kings of France. The English failed to capture it during the Hundred Years' War. After the Reformation the town became the metropolis of Protestantism in France and the seat of a theological seminary. The school of Saumur, as opposed to that of Sedan, represented the more liberal side of French Protestantism (Cameron, Amyraut, &c.). In 1623 the fortifications were dismantled; and the revocation of the edict of Nantes reduced the population by more than one half. In June 1 793, the town was occupied by the Vendeans, against whom it soon afterwards became a base of operations for the republican army.

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