Château de Saumur

Saumur, France

The Château de Saumur, originally built as a castle and later developed as a château was originally constructed in the 10th century by Theobald I, Count of Blois, as a fortified stronghold against Norman predations. It overlooks the confluence of the Loire and the Thouet. In 1026 it came into the hands of Fulk Nerra, count of Anjou, who bequeathed it to his Plantagenet heirs. Following its destruction in 1067, the castle was rebuilt by Henry II of England in the later 12th century.

In the early part of the 13th century, Philip II of France made Saumur part of his royal domain. The page for September in the Tres Riches Heures du Duc de Berry depicts the Chateau as it looked in 1410. It changed hands several times until 1589 when the Protestant King Henri IV (of France and Navarre) gave the castle to Duplessis-Mornay.

In 1621 the castle was converted into an army barracks. Nearly two centuries later it was converted into a state prison under Napoleon Bonaparte. In the first part of the 20th century, the city of Saumur acquired the castle and began a restoration program to house the museum of the decorative arts. In line with the Saumur area's equestrian tradition and its famous "Cadre Noir", the castle also serves as a Museum of the Horse. The castle has a dungeon and watchtower, and houses the Musée de la Figurine-Jouet, a collection of very old toys and figurines of soldiers, kings of France, and clowns.

The Château de Saumur has been listed as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture since 1862. As of 2008, there are a total of 46 buildings and structures in Saumur which are designated a Monument Historique - see the French national database Mérimée. Most of the monuments are built in the lovely soft local stone known as tuffeau. Amongst the most important monuments are the great Château de Saumur itself which stands high overlooking the town, and the nearby Château de Beaulieu which stands just 200 metres from the south bank of the Loire river; designed by the renowned architect Jean Drapeau, it is recognised for its light and elegant architecture. Amongst the other Monuments Historiques are the church of Saint-Pierre in the Place St Pierre in the centre of Saumur, and the Château de Briacé which is located on the north side of the river.

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Details

Founded: 10th century
Category: Castles and fortifications in France
Historical period: Frankish kingdoms (France)

Rating

4.3/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Zongle (6 months ago)
The château not only boasts an impressive exterior but also houses treasures within its walls. Exploring the interior unveils a rich collection that provides insights into the history and culture of the region. The drawbridge serves as a captivating entry point, inviting visitors into a world where the past comes alive. For those with an appreciation for both architectural marvels and historical artifacts, Château de Saumur offers a delightful and enriching experience.
Wayne Motton (8 months ago)
Was not open on Mondays. However, you could walk around the ramparts, and the views were fabulous !
Alisa Maximova (8 months ago)
I was lucky to come right around time for an English speaking tour and I really enjoyed it. The young woman-guide was funny and delightful. Her story of the castle history made it so much interesting than reading signs. The castle is beautiful and so are the views. I highly recommend to catch the tour which is about 30 min.
Annette Khan (8 months ago)
The Château is within walking distance of the centre of Saumur - uphill all the way! There is parking near to the château if you don’t fancy the walk. Impressive looking and steeped in history, with the added bonus of a JRR Tolkien exhibition at the moment. Lots of rooms in the château are laid out with furniture and ornaments relevant to era. The views from the terrace are amazing over the river Loire and there is a good restaurant at the château too.
androgynbeauty (10 months ago)
Very cool castle, nice views to the old church and the entire city of Saumur from the gardens and the bridge. The rooms are big, greatly decorated and windy. On top floor there is a horse exhibition which is very interesting to see.
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