Saumur

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Saumur

Saumur is a commune in the Maine-et-Loire department in western France.

The historic town is located between the Loire and Thouet rivers, and is surrounded by the vineyards of Saumur itself, Chinon, Bourgueil, Coteaux du Layon, etc. which produce some of France's finest wines.

Contents

History

Saumur is home to the Cadre Noir, the École Nationale d'Équitation (National School of Horsemanship), known for its annual horse shows, as well as the Armoured Branch and Cavalry Training School, the officer school for armored forces (tanks). There is a tank museum, the Musée des Blindés, with more than 850 armored vehicles, wheeled or tracked. Most of them are from France, though some come from other countries such as Brazil, Germany, or the Soviet Union.

The School of Saumur is the name used to denote a distinctive form of Reformed theology taught by Moses Amyraut at the University of Saumur in the 17th century. Saumur is also the scene for Balzac's novel "Eugénie Grandet", written by the French author in 1833 and the title of a song from hard rock band Trust (whose lyrics express their poor opinion of the city: narrow-minded, bourgeois and militaristic).

Saumur was the location of the Battle of Saumur (1793) during the Revolt in the Vendée.

Main sights

Amongst the most important monuments of Saumur are the great Château de Saumur itself which stands high above the town, and the nearby Château de Beaulieu which stands just 200 metres from the south bank of the Loire river and which was designed by the architect Jean Drapeau.

The architectural character of the town owes much to the fact that it is constructed almost exclusively of the beautiful, but fragile, stone known as Tuffeau.

World War II

During the Battle of France, in World War II, Saumur was the site of the Battle of Saumur (1940). In 1944 it was the target of several Tallboy and Azon bombing targets from Allied planes. The first raid, on 8/9 June 1944[1], was against a railway tunnel near Saumur, seeing the first use of Tallboy bombs. The hasty night raid was to stop a planned German Panzer Division, travelling to the meeting newly landed allied forces in Normandy. The panzers were expected to use the tunnel. No. 83 Squadron RAF illuminated the area with flares by 4 Avro Lancasters and marked the target at low level by 3 de Havilland Mosquitos. 25 Lancasters of No. 617 Squadron RAF then dropped their Tallboys with great accuracy; one pierced the roof of the tunnel, brought down a huge quantity of rock and soil, and blocked the tunnel for a considerable period, badly delaying the Panzer IVs.[2]

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