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Visit Chateau de Saumur
The Chateau de Saumur sits above the lovely town of Saumur and commands some fine views over the town and river below. The chateau itself is not one of the best of the Loire valley but is worth a visit as part of your visit to the town.
Explore the Chateau de Saumur
The grounds and interior of the Chateau de Saumur are not the best of the Loire but a visit does offer some really excellent views over the town of Saumur and the river below. With its white stone walls, slate roofs and the blue of the river the town is particularly attractive and worth the walk up to the castle.
The castle itself has a few notable features. It's staircase is the last example of a "royal pyramid staircase" which has a loggia framed by statues at each level. In 2006 archeologists discovered that the staircase led down to an underground room as well as up to the upper floors of the chateau. The underground room which sits below the courtyard maintains a constant temperature and was once used to store provisions.
You enter into the castle's courtyard where there is a well which drew water from a depthe of 33 meters. The courtyard is now surrounded by three wings of the chateau. Originally it was totally enclosed but the west wing fell to ruin in the 17th century and was not rebuilt.
The first floor contained the main appartments and has ornate fireplaces, floors and windows though the rooms are not currently furnished. The appartments were once very luxurious, fitted out by Louis I of Anjou who was inspired by the conversions carried out by his brother King Charles V at the Louvre.
There is also a belvedere on this floor with great views over the town. This is only open in summer for a guided visit.
The castle also houses the Museum of Decorative Arts (with enamels and ceramics) and the Museum of the Horse. These were donated to the town of Saumur and a museum created in the chateau in 1912.
Outside of the castle grounds is the Abbey Church and the Feuquieres barracks. These now contain the ticket office, shop and restaurant of the castle.
History of the Chateau de Saumur
The origins of the Chateau de Saumur date back to the mid-tenth century. After the conquest of the Earl of Anjou Fulk ‘the Black’, the castle was destroyed by a fire, but it was soon rebuilt and reinforced with more massive walls, surmounted by a square tower.
Around the beginning of the thirteenth century the castle passed to Philip Augustus (1165-1223), and under Louis IX (1214-1270) it was again strengthened especially around the tower with a rectangular enclosure with four large round towers at the corners. To improve the defences, a second set of walls was erected between the castle and the walls.
In the mid-fourteenth century the castle underwent several renovations. Louis I of Anjou (1339-1384) strengthened the defences and turned the chateau into a princely residence - the round corner towers were replaced with polygonal towers, while the central tower was demolished and extensions were implemented in the north wing of the castle.
Further works took place in the 14th century - the north tower was flanked by a smaller square tower, and the boardroom was painted by some of Van Eyk’s apprentices, while the work of enlarging and embellishing continued throughout the sixteenth century.
During the reign of Louis XIV, the fortress was turned into a prison, and this function continued in the Napoleonic age, during which there were several collapses, which in part undermined the structure.
In the twentieth century restoration work began at Saumur castle.
Chateau de Saumur visitor information
The castle is open from 1 April to 5 November.
01/04-14/06 and 16/09-05/11 Tuesday to Sunday 10.00-13.00 and 14.00-17.30
15/06-30/06 and 01/09-15/09 every day 10.00-18.30
01/07-31/08 every day 10.00-18.30
Price: 7 euros adults and 5 euros children over 7. (6 and 4 euros in low season)
Places to visit nearby
The charming village of Chinon which is dominated by the Medieval Fortress of Chinon should be part of your Loire Valley trip. A complete contrast the Chateau d'Ussé is thought to have been the inspiration for the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale. It certainly has the look of a Disney castle!