Saumur and its surroundings will always amaze us. We know the must-see sites, those which have made Anjou's reputation: castles, vineyards and riding school, not to mention the Loire. But the region knows how to reinvent itself to offer truly original activities. A little tour in a deudeuche, in a combi or in a cabané, what do you think? So follow the guide!
The Loire àet-Loire, the town has Pierre. A place surrounded by half-timbered houses and a superb church, whose facade has just been recently renovated.
A little out of the way, Lady-des-Ardilliers is just as remarkable, with its large rotunda. Its history is based on Lady des Ardilliers. Until the XNUMXth century, it was one of the most important places of pilgrimage in France. Even today, you can see a pietà nestled inside the church. The rotunda was built later, to impress the Protestants.
Emblem of the city, the prestigious Black frame opens its backstage for a guided tour. We discover how this unique riding school works, which has 350 horses. From the big merry-go-round to the stables, via the saddlery, the course is very educational. Better to come in the morning. You will then be able to capture small moments of life: the squire polishing his boots or the horse which has a whim in its box.
PerchéBellay, a few kilometers away. In this charming village embellished by wisteria, the Renaissance and medieval style castle is superbly furnished. Observe the kitchen, capable of accommodating 300 soldiers at the time. The vault charred by the fire, the copper pots hanging on the wall, the huge fireplaces… One can easily imagine the soldiers feasting around a banquet.
The Abbey of Fontevraud, day and night
Hospitality and modernity have always been part of the DNA of Fontevraud Abbey, the largest in Europe. It was founded in 1101 by Robert d'Arbrissel, a hermit and… precursor of feminism! Before becoming a prison, this monastery was run by a woman.
Today, the abbey is still where we least expect it. It hosts around fifty artists in residence, a cultural center and contemporary art exhibitions.
A 4 star hotel has replaced the old hospital. If you can, we strongly advise you to spend the night there (count € 139 minimum, without breakfast). Those who sleep there have the chance to stroll around the site all night long, in a romantic and mysterious atmosphere.
The opportunity to take full advantage of the magnificent cloister and its walled garden, the all white stained monastery and the archaeological crypt. At 2 am, you will be alone in the world, or almost: the four royal recumbent figures do not leave the monastery!
In the tropics of the Doué biopark
They are at home here. At Doué biopark, okapis, flamingos and giraffes do not know the fences. Rock is enough. The huge enclosures are hollowed out in the falun, giving this superb troglodyte site an even more natural appearance.
The biopark is home to 700 animals, most of which belong to endangered species. Our favorite ? The South American aviary and its tropical atmosphere.
This year, the park is growing. "The Ghosts of the Himalayas", snow leopards, vultures and ibex of the Markhor, move to a new steep space of four hectares. In an amphitheater, a spectacular scavenger hunt will be staged. And that's not all: the “Animal Kitchen” is open to view. There, we can now attend the daily meal of a thousand impatient mouths and beaks.
Rose fields in deudeuche
Even if it means doing something bucolic, you might as well go to the end! The rose garden "Les Chemins de la rose" in Doué-en-anjou takes you through its production fields aboard a 2 CV. Red, please, like roses.
The trip is only offered in summer, during the flowering period. You can then walk freely in the English garden, romantic as you wish: natural arbors of flowers, benches facing the ponds, lianas climbing on the trees.
And everywhere, thousands of roses. Reds, oranges, yellows, whites, streaks, bicolors. In all, 850 varieties that rose growers pamper. Don't leave without consulting your plant horoscope. According to Celtic astrology, each time of the year is associated with a tree. If you were born between October 4 and 13, you are rowan.
Off the beaten track in a retro jumpsuit
Beret and suspenders for Lionel, vintage floral dress for Clarisse. On board their red combi, these two do not go unnoticed on the roads of Saumur. Since January, they have been offering tours of unusual places aboard a combi in very good condition.
With Karine, the third partner, Clarisse and Lionel unearth unusual places and obtain exclusive tickets to certain sites. Thanks to them, we reach the top of an old church in Gennes, the highest point in Anjou. We take small streets from village to village, we enter a cemetery where also lie the ruins of a cathedral. It was by chance, during their wanderings, that they discovered the tomb of the writer Hervé Bazin there.
We almost have the impression of being with friends who make us discover their region. Moreover, they themselves see themselves as "guides", not guides. You have the choice between four thematic circuits: vineyards and troglos, Loire walk, traditions in Saumur and the mysteries of Doué-la-Fontaine. Then just let yourself be carried away. There is no detailed program. And it is this, more than the combi, which makes all the charm of this visit: let in the unexpected.
Find practical information, tips and addresses in the Pays de la Loire Routard in bookstores
Consult our Pays de la Loire online guide.
Anjou Val-de-Loire tourist office.
How to get there
Paris-Angers: around 1 hour 30 minutes by TGV then another 30 minutes by train from Angers to Saumur.
- River trip on the Etoile qui Rit, in Montsoreau. Denis Rétiveau takes us aboard his wooden tower for a beautiful 2-hour river trip. Most ? Denis's double hat. As a "winegrower-boatman", he makes us taste his wines on board. And thanks to its partnerships with renowned restaurants, it also offers appetizers (€ 12 per person) and a “chef restaurateur” menu (€ 30 per person). Phone. : 06 21 51 82 81.
- Loire Vintage Discovery, in a Volkswagen combi. € 29 per person for the 2:30 hour tour. Tel. : 07 71 86 89 55.
- The Montreuil-Bellay castle: 1 hour guided tour from € 6,50 to € 11 with tasting of the property's wines at the end. Phone. : 02 41 52 33 06.
- The Abbey of Fontevraud. 15 min by car from Saumur, 38 min by bus, possibility of shuttles. From € 7,50 to € 11. Phone. : 02 41 51 73 52.
- The rose garden of Doué. 60 € per car (3 people maximum) including the one-hour guided walk, followed by a rose cocktail and a free walk in the garden. Single visit: 4,50 to 7,50 €, free for children under 12. Phone. : 02 41 59 95 95.
- The Doué biopark. 103, rue de Cholet. From 16 to 21 €. Phone. : 02 41 59 18 58.
Where to sleep ?
- Rocaminori hotel, in Rocheminier. 13, rue du Musée. Brand new hotel dug in 2013 in the heart of the troglodyte village. Some rooms are underground or semi-troglodyte. Be careful, no wifi and very little network. 110 to 140 € (breakfast 10 €). Phone. : 02 41 50 03 12.
- London, in Saumur. 48, rue d'Orléans. Comfortable hotel located in the city center since 1837. Breakfast under a sublime green glass roof. Each room has its identity.
Where to eat ?
- The delights of La Roche, in Rocheminier. 16, rue du Musée. Run by Henri and Sabrina, this restaurant offers tasty cuisine, with some products from their vegetable garden and a surprise menu that changes daily. Unbeatable value for money: starter, main course, cheese, dessert and aperitif cocktail at 26 €. A golden address. The restaurant is also a tea room. Ideal for enjoying the pretty terrace in the afternoon. Phone. : 02 41 50 15 26.
- The table of fouées, in Saumur. 29 Ackerman Street. The great local specialty! Rolls baked in the oven and traditionally garnished with rillettes and parsley garlic butter. In a superb troglodyte room, we eat here traditional or revisited fouées. It's plentiful, but it's good. Menus from € 19,90 to € 24,90. Phone. : 02 41 38 62 87.