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

4.1/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

The Retirees (3 years ago)
Beautifully maintained medieval castle. Lovely walk through a delightful town with many impressive buildings. There is a panoramic walk that postcodes heat views of the castle, the bridge and Loire. Great at night with the lights reflecting off the water. It's free to walk to and around the castle, with great views of the town. Definitely with taking a stroll up. As well as crossing the bridge to see the spectacular view back across the river with the castle overseeing all.
Elizabeth Valentine (4 years ago)
Medieval castle with gorgeous structures overlooking the Loire River and the City of Saumur. Lovely walking areas surround the Château, with various out buildings, including museums, a cafe, (open sometimes) and a well and other antique sites of interest.
Farenia Grzybowska (4 years ago)
You can take guided tour in English and the history of the castle and France is explained in a very compelling way. I highly recommend the visit to any tourist ;)
Heather Daines (4 years ago)
We pitched up at the Camping Car Parks site just outside the campsite. No toilets or showers but we have our own so it's wasn't a problem. Emptying and refilling free. A short walk into Town and an uphill walk to the Chateau.... Lovely place, will definitely return
Susan Barnes (4 years ago)
Beautiful old town. The chateau has amazing views over the Loire. The ramparts are currently being restored.
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King Eric's grand daughter, Ingeborg Håkansdotter, inherited the area from her father, King Haakon V of Norway. She and her husband, Eric, Duke of Södermanland, established a semi-independent state out of their Norwegian, Swedish and Danish counties until the death of Erik. They spent considerable time at the fortress. Their son, King Magnus IV of Sweden (Magnus VII of Norway), spent much time at the fortress as well.

The fortress was augmented during the late 16th and early 17th century on order by King Christian IV of Denmark. However, after the Treaty of Brömsebro in 1645 the fortress became Swedish. It was used as a military installation until 1830 and as a prison from the end of the 17th Century until 1931.

It is currently used as a museum and bed and breakfast as well as private accommodation. The moat of the fortress is said to be inhabited by a small lake monster. In August 2006, a couple of witnesses claimed to have seen the monster emerge from the dark water and devour a duck. The creature is described as brown, hairless and with a 40 cm long tail.