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The city of Saumur


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Discovering a small piece of the French magic

Published by Paula Danciu — 4 years ago

I discovered Saumur due to a training course that took place there a while ago and in which I was lucky enough to be a participant. Before signing up for the course I didn’t even know about the existence of this place, so I was pleasantly surprised to discover this small peaceful and relaxing corner of France.

Saumur is a small town having around 30. 000 inhabitants, is located along the Loire Valley in the Western part of France and it is home to The French National Riding School, The Saumur Castle and the sparkling wine.

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Getting to Saumur is very easy given the well organized french transport network. I travelled there by train from Paris, but since there is no direct connexion I had to switch trains in Angers. Overall it was approximatively a 3 hour journey and the price was around 60 euro.

The place I was staying is called International de Sejour de I’lle d’Offard, a comfortable accomodationoffering a camping space as well as other diferent facilities such as swimming pool, ping-pong table and the posibility to rent a bike. The place is located at around 20 minutes walking distance from the train station. Even though I did not try it, I would recommend camping there. In mid-June the weather was great and the camping space was full of travel vans and a few tents. The place seemed safe and it can be a cheap and adventurous way to explore the town.

The historic town has a lot to offer to travelers. From simply exploring the place and the tourist attractions to attending ocasional events that take place there.

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Saumur is generally a quiet place, easy to get around and since I travelled there during summer I was very excited to find numerous green places perfect for taking a rest while sightseeing, having a small picnic or just sunbathing. For those interested in shopping, the city center offers a variety of fashion stores as well as restaurants and caffes.

Moreover, given the bike-friendly environment, renting a bike for a few hours to take a tour is a great and healthy option. I rented one for half a day from the housing place and explored Saumur in detail. I mainly recommend riding alongside the river to enjoy the view of the castle and the bridge.

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Located in such way that it can be seen from almost every point in the city, The Saumur Castle is a must-see when in town. A walk there is worth it, if not for an inside visit, at least for some amazing pictures with it or for the great view over the town from the top. The castle used to be a fortress during the 13th century and the residence of the dukes of Anjou. Over the time is has become a residence for the town governors, a prison and a munitions depot. Since 1912, the monument is the house of the municipal museum and is nowadays open to the public. One normal ticket costs between 5-9 euro, depending on the season, but there are also good deals for groups.

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Wine lovers will be happy to find out that Saumur is famous for its sparkling wine and even happier to take a tour of the Bouvet Ladubay cellers where the wine is produced. During the tour we got explanations regarding the steps in the wine-making process and were invited to taste four different types of it at the end. Of course there was the possibility to purchase wine as well.

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Given the presence of the The French National Riding School, Saumur is hosting all year round horse-related events, among them the Cadre Noir shows, famous and highly valued due to its horsemen, which are consider to be among the best in the world.

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Speaking of ocasional events, during the week I spent there, Fête de la Musique took place. Fête de la Musique or Worldwide Music Day is a global event, celebrating all styles of music. The festival started in Paris in 1982, founded by Jack Lang, the French cultural minister and quicky became popular all around the world. Every year since then, on June 21st the public has free access and the great chance to enjoy quality music from both professional and amateurs musicians.

So on that specific date, the streets in the city center of Saumur gathered a large number of artists and every corner became the scene of a live concert. Even though there was a main stage as well, the charm of the event lies in the idea of walking around and getting a taste of the diversity of sounds. The streets were filled with people and sometimes we had to stay in line just to get a closer look at the musicians or dancers. Unfortunately the time was just too short to explore everything that the celebration had to offer.

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In a nutshell, Saumur is the perfect place for a short summer holiday, peaceful and relaxing and worth discovering in detail.

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