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Travel bucket list idea:

Last updated: 28 May, 2023
Expert travel writer: Anna Brooke

This postcard-perfect, medieval town clustering along the Loire River is a historic and aesthetic gem, and worth a special visit.

Once you’ve wandered through character-filled streets, lined almost exclusively with buildings constructed in the Loire’s iconic Tuffeau stone, wine-tasting cellars await in and around the town.

Saumur is one of the region’s largest wine areas, with multiple wineries offering visits and tastings, several located in troglodyte cellars and tunnels.

You could also stop by the Chateau de Saumur, mounted majestically above the town. It’s just as impressive inside, home to fine medieval architecture and a decorative arts museum.

Recommendations

5

Chateau du Breze

Saumur, Pays de la Loire, France

Landscape view of Chateau de Breze on a blue summer's day with the vineyard at the front field of the chateau

Beneath this attractive Renaissance and neo-Gothic chateau is a remarkable 9th-century fortress, a troglodyte labyrinth complete with drawbridge, stables, and guardrooms. The chateau is also known for excellent wines, which you can taste in Les Caves de la Comtesse de Colbert in the chateau grounds.

Adult price: £10

Best for ages 18+

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Royal Abbey of Fontevraud

Saumur, Pays de la Loire, France

Outside low angle view of the front building and entrance on a summer's blue day

Travel back to the Middle Ages in this vast monastic complex and splendid Romanesque church. It’s home to the sculpted tombs of Henry II of England, Eleanor of Aquitaine and Richard the Lionheart.

Best for ages 18+

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Le Saut aux Loups mushroom farm

Saumur, Pays de la Loire, France

External view of the troglodyte mushroom farm, built into a hillside

This series of cool, dank caverns in Montsoreau is said to have once been inhabited by loups (wolves), then exploited as quarries, before being turned into a champignonnière (mushroom farm). Button, oyster and shitake mushrooms are cultivated here today.

Best for ages 13+

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Bouvet-Ladubay cellars

Saumur, Pays de la Loire, France

Close up of a rack of wine bottles in a cellar

These sculpted troglodyte caves offer an interesting blend of wine tasting, culture and history. The cellars here, open daily for tastings, are part of a historic 5-mile-long complex of underground galleries, which include an unusual ‘underground cathedral’.

Adult price: £5

Min age 18

Best for ages 18+

Duration: 2 hours

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Langlois-Chateau

Saumur, Pays de la Loire, France

modern wine factory with new large tanks for the fermentation

This winery and vineyard offers a complete immersion into the world of wine, starting with a short introduction to the principles of oenologie (wine-making), followed by a tour of the production facility, a visit to the cellars, and ending with a wine tasting.

Min age 18

Best for ages -218+

Duration: 1-2 hours

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Logistics

Price: Free
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 18+
When: All year around

Getting there & doing it

You can visit Saumur independently by car, or by train (it’s just over 2 hours from Paris).

Start with the tourist office to get information about the area’s wineries, best visited in the afternoon, then stroll through the town centre to the chateau.

When it’s wine time, one of the most interesting cellars is a 2km walk from the castle at Caves Bouvay-Ladubay, a vast property with underground cellars you can visit by bike.

When to do it

Spring or summer is best for the clement weather, but autumn’s pretty too when the surrounding vineyards’ leaves are changing. The chateau closes in winter.

Destination guides

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Destination guides including or relevant to this experience

Loire Valley

Loire Valley, France

Exterior of the front of the chateau, with a tree-lined driveway in foreground

Northern France’s beautiful UNESCO-listed valley, home to heart-stoppingly beautiful historic chateaux, authentic village life, world-class wines and fascinating troglodytes.