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January 18, 2019

France: Saumur and the Château de Saumur

Château de Saumur sits in the Loire Valley vineyards.

The Loire Valley is studded with famous châteaux. Indeed, UNESCO has inscribed “The Loire Valley between Sully-sur-Loire and Chalonnes” on its Heritage list, lauding the valley’s historic towns and numerous grand châteaux. Though the towns are interesting, it is the châteaux that motivate most visits. They are truly over the top.

We first visited the prime château area of the Loire Valley in 2010. It was clear then that we toured only a small fraction of the stately homes that we could have. Indeed UNESCO has 42 châteaux in its World Heritage listing; we toured just five. It was also clear that trying to see even the best 10 Loire châteaux was not something that we wanted to attempt in one visit. After touring five we were burnt out on the concept of châteaux. It was best to save the ones we hadn’t seen for future follow-up visits. And with the number of Loire châteaux there can be a lot of follow-up visits.

Saumur and the Loire River

The Loire in the evening light

The opportunity to château visit in the Loire Valley came again in August of 2018, at the very height of the tourist season in France. This time we knew enough to limit our visits to only a couple of châteaux, lest we burn ourselves out again. An obvious castle for us to see was Château de Saumur, an easy visit as were staying in the commune of Saumur.

Château de Saumur claims to have inspired Cinderella’s Castle at Disney Land. It’s one of the many castles in Europe that make a similar same claim. It is a hard assertion to dispute or to prove, kind of like the “Hemmingway drank here” claim that many old bars in Spain make. Nevertheless, the Saumur’s château looks like it could have inspired Disney, which is pretty much enough.

A re-enactment at the castle

Saumur from across the river

I have to admit I don’t recall much about the inside of Château de Saumur. Nor did I retain any pictures from our visit. It’s probably best to read too much into it, but it is also safe to say that the inside of Château de Saumur was not overly compelling.

The commune was more memorable than the inside of the castle. Sitting on the banks of the Loire River, Saumur is attractive. The town has more to offer than just its famous castle. But like many of the communes in the shallow Loire Valley it lacks the benefits of attractive terrain. Saumur is appealing enough but without the châteaux in the town and the area it wouldn’t attract many tourists on its own.

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  1. Wow looks awesome! There is a cycle route from Nantes to Basel that runs along the Loire for a sizeable portion that I’ve always wanted to do. It’s posts like this that push me closer and closer to that goal. Thanks for posting

    Comment by ericluskjopson — January 18, 2019 @ 7:03 pm

    • There are lots of interesting bike routes through Europe. Definitely worth doing.

      Comment by anotherheader — January 21, 2019 @ 8:52 pm

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