Saumur (49 Maine et Loire, Pays de Loire)
Where to stay
English/French family-owned Gite and B&B (Chambres d’Hote) – Le Bellevue on a vineyard run by Sarah-Jane Beaumont and her husband Gérald – about 30 minutes south of Saumur at Pouançay.
The best located hotel is the Mercure Bords de Loire on the banks of the Loire with a view across the river to the town and Chateau.
Where to eat (recommended):
Le Bellevue (above) also offers Tables d’Hote (“host’s table, fixed price menu – booked in advance) – their “Découverte du Terroir’ is something you won’t find in a restaurant. Carefully selected by Gérald the large plateau of local delicacies and handed down recipes from Grandma ensure a true French supper. Accompanied by a complimentary bottle of AOC Saumur wine, dine leisurely in the peaceful grounds of ‘the Domaine.
Where to eat (gourmet):
l’Hélianthe (The Helianthos) – for good food and a fabulous setting, a “restaurant troglodytique” (set in troglodyte caves). Highly recommended.
Place Antoine Cristal, Turquant – about 10km south-east of Saumur along the river valley.
La Licorne – a Michelin starred restaurant serving modern French cuisine in the historical town of Fontrevraud l’Abbaye (about 15km southeast of Saumur)
Where to eat (value for money):
For a picnic or snack between sight-seeing visits step into any boulangerie for a sandwich, quiche or slice of pizza followed by a mouth watering pastry.
The specialty of the Saumur region are les Fouées, hollow unleavened breads filled with rillettes and confit de canard, served hot and accompanied by another specialty, large grilled mushrooms dripping with garlic & parsley butter – yummy !!
Saumur has its own appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC Saumur) and produces a wide variety of wines including sparkling, white, rosé and red. For those interested in learning more about wine the Beaumonts (above) offer private wine tours & wine tastings and vineyard visits.
Saumur hosts a fabulous Saturday morning market full of fresh produce, livestock! and stalls with plenty of goodies you’ll want to take home with you.
Visit Saumur and see:
Château de Saumur – dominates the town of Saumur at the edge of the Loire river
Cadre Noir at the National Equestrian School of the elite French Cavalry
Visit a Loire Valley vineyard
A Loire Valley wine tour & wine tasting
When to come :
Saumur‘s Wine Festival “Festivini“ which takes place in September
The Cadre Noir has special performances of the Dance Show – a magical combination between dance and classical riding with public performances between April and October.
Why not try cycling – the well-established Loire à Velo scheme which offers cycling along the gentle banks of the Loire with well-signposted cycle paths and itineraries.
There are also plenty of well-marked footpaths in the area – along the river and away from it – see www.saumur-rando.com (in French)
and remember this section of the Loire Valley is a UNESCO World Heritage site – The Loire Valley is noteworthy for the quality of its architectural heritage, in its historic towns such as Blois, Chinon, Orléans, Saumur, and Tours, but in particular in its world-famous castles, such as the Château de Chambord.
Thanks to Sarah-Jane Beaumont at Le Bellevue for some of these recommendations