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 Château de Saumur, Loire Valley

Château de Saumur

One of my favourite châteaux! Saumur dates from the 14th century; it was used as a prison in the 19th century, but has been owned by the state for the last 100 years and houses a fine arts museum, and a substantial museum devoted to the horse. I was fascinated by the equestrian museum, especially the displays of bits and bridles; some of those ceremonial and cavalry bits have an amazing array of cruel attachments to help an incompetent rider subdue a spirited horse. The museum includes a selection of antiquated veterinary instruments, I feel for the horse that was subjected to those.

Saumur is also famous for being the home of the Cadre Noir, the French Army equestrian display team. They're probably not as well known as the Spanish Riding School, but are just as delightful to watch. You need to book months in advance if you want to see one of their displays, which we failed to do.

Château Saumur from across the River Loire, at sunset

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