Rich in history, this Loire Valley gem is most famous for its iconic castle, which dominates the city and the river. Moreover, it is the home of the horse: it is easy to meet the famous Cadre Noir riders in their black and gold tunics around the city, where many equestrian events take place throughout the year.
The region encompassing the city of Saumur is also rich in numerous troglodyte caves, carved out of tuff and chalk: many have been converted into cave cellars for storing wine, from the area’s prized wine estates. Indeed, the Saumurois is a vineyard renowned for its white sparkling wines and its red still wines.
The Pearl of Anjou hides surprising historical and cultural treasures and will enchant you with its timeless beauty.
The castle of Saumur is undoubtedly the city’s most representative building, dominating the village and the Loire river with all its majesty. An admirable example of a princely palace, typical of the Valois dynasty, the castle took its present form in the 14th century with the arrival of the Dukes of Anjou.
The castle has had many functions over time: with its towers and conical roofs, under Louis IX it fulfilled the task of a defensive fortress, then in the 14th century, it became a pleasure castle with richly carved balustraded windows, nicknamed the ‘castle of love’. It then became a residence of the governors of Saumur at the time of Louis XIV and Louis XV. Finally, the château was turned into a prison under Napoleon I, before being relegated to a place for storing arms and ammunition during the Restoration.
The enchanting town of Saumur is perfect to discover on foot, thanks to several pedestrian zones in the historical centre that allow you to discover all the town’s heritage.
For a walking itinerary, we recommend you focus on the many winding streets that have retained their medieval structure. Starting at Rue Saint-Jean2, with its boutiques and special shops, you will arrive at Place Saint-Pierre3. With an important historical past behind it, this square was Saumur’s main market in the Middle Ages: you can still admire its beautiful traditional houses with their colourful half-timbered façades from the 15th and 16th centuries, which vie for the admiration of visitors with the 18th-century buildings with their wrought-iron balconies.
In this square, you can visit St. Peter's Church4: admire its graceful 17th-century classical façade and its skilful blend of Romanesque and Gothic styles.
The building, located in Place de la République, is very complex and articulated, composed of parts built in different styles. On one side is a 16th-century fortified house, the façade of which was once incorporated into the rampart of the medieval town: it has therefore retained its defensive appearance. On the other hand, the central part is of neo-Gothic inspiration.
Even different is the courtyard façade, built in a style somewhere between Gothic and Renaissance, exquisitely carved and characterised by an imposing staircase tower with a beautiful stone and brick chessboard decoration.
A stone’s throw from the town hall, you can visit the church of Notre-Dame des Ardilliers, built in classical Italian-inspired architecture.
During the 16th and 17th centuries, the building was one of the busiest pilgrimage sanctuaries in France, with more than 10,000 pilgrims a year.
Construction of the chapel began in the early 16th century and is distinguished by an imposing 27-metre high dome crowned by a slate roof with lantern.
The best view of the city and castle can be admired from Offard Island, accessible from the bridge over the Loire: from here you will have one of the most beautiful views of Saumur.
On this handkerchief of land in the middle of the river is the 15th-century House of the Queen of Sicily, with its original architecture, in particular its finely carved facades.
Don’t miss a stop on the banks of the Loire, France’s most famous river, nicknamed the Royal River: it is the perfect place for romantic walks.
This interesting museum is located in the centre of Saumur, inside the restored old stables of the Cadre Noir, dating back to 1827.
It is a military museum that traces the history of French chivalry from the 15th century, under Charles VII, to the tanks of today. Its collection is impressive: on an area of more than 1,400 square metres, every kind of object related to the subject is on display, such as uniforms, harnesses, armour and antique weapons, paintings, sculptures.
Animal lovers should not miss the opportunity to visit one of the most important riding schools in France. Created as part of the military cavalry in 1815, the Cadre Noir is a prestigious institution that teaches and passes on classical riding to the cadets of the National Riding School. High-level experts work there and represent the school in national and international competitions.
You can visit the school, with its stables, large training arena and saddlery. If you are lucky, you will also have the opportunity to observe live the training sessions of the great masters of equestrianism or the events organised by the school each year.
The Turenna region encloses a hidden and secret world, invisible from the outside. For centuries, men have cut tuff, typical of this area, to build houses, castles and churches: over the centuries, an underground world was created. There are over 1,500 km of tunnels carved into the tuff, cellars and villages that form one of the largest troglodytic sites in Europe.
These damp, dark ravines, these underground labyrinths have become stone quarries, dwellings, workplaces, wine cellars, mushroom-growing chambers and many other museum centres that narrate the life, evolution and history of this hidden world.
In the following map you can see the location of the main places of interest mentioned in this article
The pleasant old town of Saumur is famous for its renowned wines and excellent gastronomy. A stopover in this city means experiencing its special evening life.
The terraces and restaurants in the troglodytic caves also offer many opportunities for tasting. These ancient and evocative caves have in some cases been converted into charming hotels and accommodations.
The city of Saumur is located 320 km from Paris, 50 km from Angers and 70 km from Tours, at the confluence of the Loire and Thouet rivers.
If you arrive from Paris, landing at Paris Orly Airport and Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport, you must take the A10, A85 or E60 motorway, or the D347 and then the D947 roads. Then take the Ville de Saumur exit.
If you chose the train to get around, you will first have to take a TGV train from Paris and, depending on the town you choose to change to a regional train, it takes 20 minutes to Angers, 40 minutes to Tours and 1 hour to Nantes.
What's the weather at Saumur? Below are the temperatures and the weather forecast at Saumur for the next few days.
The city of Saumur is located in the Maine-et-Loire department, about halfway between Angers and Tours.