Saumur and its cavalry heritage

Saumur (Fr. 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, Chinon, Bourgueil and Coteaux du Layon, which produce some of France’s finest wines.

Born at the foot of a fortress and sheltered behind an urban wall from the fourteenth century, the city controls a disputed passage on the Loire. It became the seat of a military government commanded by Philippe Duplessis-Mornay from 1589 to 1621, and then became one of the political capitals of French Protestantism. Two brigades and the staff of a rifle regiment were installed there in 1763. The famous riding school of the Écuyers was completed in 1767 (it was rebuilt in 1863). The School will successively take the name of the School of instruction of the mounted troops in 1814, the Royal School of cavalry in 1825, and finally, after 1945, of the School of application of the armoured cavalry weapon.

On 20 June 1828, the first “carousel” was held on Place du Chardonnet, given in honour of the Duchess of Berry. Since 1831, these “carousels” have taken place every year.

Its riding instructors give public high school performances under the name of Cadre Noir. City of the horse, Saumur became, in 1972, the seat of the National Riding School.

Today Saumur is known for its Cavalry School worldwide. The Cadre Noir is a corps of elite French riders, instructors at the National Riding School (or ENE) near Saumur in Maine-et-Loire. The Cadre Noir doctrine, set by General L’Hotte in the nineteenth century, is the horse “calm, forward and straight.” Horse riding in the French tradition, practiced mainly at the Cadre Noir, was inscribed in 2011 by UNESCO on the representative list of the intangible cultural heritage of humanity.

Tourism and main attractions

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

There are several cultural tourist sites in Saumur: the Saumur castle-museum houses the municipal collections (decorative arts) and the collections of the Musée du Cheval. On the territory of the municipality, there are also the world-renowned tank museum, the mushroom museum, the Pierres et Lumières site and the motor museum.

The Loire à Vélo cycle touring route crosses Saumur and attracts many cyclists. The city is also located on the main routes of the Loire castles.

Various activities, including Anjou-Vélo-Vintage, in June, contribute to the tourist attractiveness of the city.

Saint-Jean street and its shops lead to Saint Peter’s Square. This place has an important historical past. Indeed, it was the unmissable shopping square of Saumur in the Middle Ages.

Religious heritage

  • Notre-Dame-de-la-Visitation Convent, now barracks;
  • the Notre-Dame-de-Nantilly church is the oldest in Saumur: built in the first half of the 12th century in Romanesque style, it was then equipped in the 15th century with a vast Gothic aisle built on the orders of Louis XI. It has been classified as a historical monument since 1840;
  • the church of Saint-Pierre (12th – 17th century) with its twisted bell tower;
  • the chapel of Notre-Dame-des-Ardilliers and the house of the Oratory;
  • the church of Saint-Lambert des Levées (13th century);
  • the Saint-Jean chapel;
  • the Protestant temple (1843);
  • the Notre-Dame des Ardilliers convent;
  • the Saint-Nicolas church.

Civil heritage

  • The Bagneux dolmen (Neolithic);
  • Château de Saumur (fourteenth – nineteenth century);
  • the Cavalry School, called for several decades the Cavalry Armored Weapon Application School (EAABC), home of the Cadre Noir;
  • the National Riding School founded in 1814, current place of teaching of the Cadre Noir and center of French riding;
    City Hall;
  • the Blancler hotel;
  • the castle of Beaulieu;
  • the hotel de Castellane (private mansion that belonged to the Aldebert family and in which the city wanted to install a casino);
  • the house of the Queen of Sicily;
  • the hotels of the old quarter;
  • the house of the Compagnons du Devoir;
  • The Ackerman House;
  • The house of fine bubbles Veuve Amiot, founded in 1884 by Elisa Amiot and which still welcomes visitors to the original production site today.


Saint-Jean street and its shops lead to Saint Peter’s Square. This place has an important historical past. Indeed, it was the unmissable shopping square of Saumur in the Middle Ages.

During your stay in Saumur you can enjoy discovering the region vineyard and its beautiful troglodyte cellars. The region is mostly known for its sparkling wines mainly made from the Chenin grape variety.

Gastronomy and restaurants

There is only one Michelin star restaurant: Le Gambetta, 12 rue Gambetta, Saumur, 32 – 117 EUR • Creative cuisine (one star).

Other five restaurants in the Michelin list (no stars):

  • La Table du Château Gratien, 94 route de Montsoreau, 34 – 64 EUR • Modern Cuisine
  • L’Aromate, 42 rue du Maréchal-Leclerc, 20 – 45 EUR • Modern Cuisine
  • L’Escargot, 30 rue du Maréchal-Leclerc, 21 – 40 EUR • Traditional Cuisine
  • Le Boeuf Noisette, 29 rue Molière, Saumur, 30 – 35 EUR • Traditional Cuisine
  • L’Alchimiste, 6 rue de Lorraine, 25 – 50 EUR • Modern Cuisine

Transport and how to get to?

Airport: Saumur has an aerodrome, the Saumur-Saint-Florent aerodrome (AITA code: XSU • ICAO code: LFOD), open to public air traffic, located 2.5 km to the west of the former municipality of Saint-Hilaire-Saint-Florent. It welcomes light aviation, parachuting and model aircrafts.

Railways: Saumur station has been open since August 1, 1849. It is located on the Tours in Saint-Nazaire and Chartres in Bordeaux-Saint-Jean lines.

TER, Intercity and some TGV trains stop at this station. Trains to Thouars / Bressuires, Angers, Nantes, Tours / Saint-Pierres-des-Corps, Orléans and Cholet.

In addition to the rail network, the SNCF is setting up buses, in particular on the line towards Thouars and La Flèche.

Shortest distance by car:

From Rochefort (tolls): 2 h 33 min (199 km) via D938

From Le Château-d’Oléron (tolls): 3 h 3 min (232 km) via D938

From Saint-Palais-sur-Mer (tolls): 2 h 52 min (236 km) via A10

From Soulac-sur-Mer (ferry): 3 h 40 min (247 km) via A10

From Niort: 1 h 42 min (116 km) via D743 and D938

From Thouars: 37 min (36.3 km) via D938 and D347

From Saintes (tolls): 2 h 20 min (195 km) via A10 and D938

From La Baule-Escoublac (tolls): 2 h 17 min (224 km) via A11

From Saint-Nazaire (tolls): 2 h 15 min (209 km) via A11

From Pornic (tolls): 2 h 16 min (205 km) via A11

From Les Sables-d’Olonne (tolls): 2 h 8 min (180 km) via A87

From Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie (tolls): 2 h 20 min (185 km) via A87

From Noirmoutier-en-l’Île (tolls): 2 h 49 min (242 km) via A11

From Jard-sur-Mer (tolls): 2 h 9 min (174 km) via A87

From Nantes (tolls): 1 h 41 min (155 km) via A11

From Cognac (tolls): 2 h 43 min (207 km) via D938

From Angoulême (tolls): 2 h 54 min (210 km) via N10

From Arcachon (tolls): 3 h 59 min (371 km) via A10

From Royan (tolls): 2 h 49 min (233 km) via A10

From Biarritz (tolls): 5 h 15 min (504 km) via A63 and A10

From Bayonne (tolls): 5 h 3 min (490 km) via A63 and A10

From Dax (tolls): 4 h 48 min (452 km) via A63 and A10

From Bordeaux (tolls): 3 h 29 min (305 km) via A10

From La Rochelle: 2 h 32 min (185 km) via N11 and D938

From Toulouse (tolls): 5 h 31 min (544 km) via A62 and A10

From Carcassonne (tolls): 6 h 15 min (634 km) via A62 and A10

From Monaco (tolls): 9 h 39 min (1,036 km) via A7

From Nice (tolls): 9 h 27 min (1,014 km) via A7

From Cannes (tolls): 9 h 10 min (987 km) via A7

From Saint-Tropez (tolls): 9 h 9 min (959 km) via A7

From Marseille (tolls): 7 h 51 min (856 km) via A7

From Avignon (tolls): 7 h 10 min (773 km) via A7 and A71

From Montpellier (tolls): 6 h 48 min (723 km) via A75 and A71

From Béziers (tolls): 6 h 52 min (733 km) via A75 and A71

From Perpignan (tolls): 7 h 11 min (747 km) via A62

From Narbonne (tolls): 6 h 44 min (691 km) via A62 and A10

From Andorra (tolls): 7 h 46 min (724 km) via A62

Main information

Area: 66.25 sq. km

Population: 26 800

Languages: French

Currency: euro

Visa: Schengen

Time: Central European UTC +1

GPS coordinates: 47°15′36″N 0°04′37″W

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