Saumur is in the department of Maine-et-Loire, Loire Valley, western France. Home to museums, a beautiful medieval castle with stunning views over the River Loire. It’s also where you’ll find the National Riding School, where the famous Cadre Noir display team put on wonderful equestrian shows.
It’s perfectly located for touring the western side of the Loire Valley and close to several legendary locations.
It’s a very pretty, flowery sort of a town, the cream coloured 17th century buildings mingle with medieval houses in cobbled streets lined with restaurants and shops. Wander on foot to discover it’s secrets. It’s rumoured that Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger is a fan of the town and we’re not surprised. Laid back, historic, mellow but with loads to do, it’s quintessentially French.
Saumur is home to the third most important military school in France – it’s huge and takes up around a fifth of the entire town’s footprint. There’s also an important equestrian school, the Ecole Nationale d’Equitation which puts on a famous annual show.
The Musée des Blindés has an impressive collection of battle tanks from the First World War to present day.
There’s a huge chapel in the town (now a school) which became a pilgrimage site of major importance and spawned a rosary making industry in Saumur, in fact they still make them here.
You’ll discover the remains of the ancient walls of the city, and plenty of surprises. Head to the Belvedere Hotel and push a button on a gate to enter a pretty courtyard, walk down “the streets of hell” and into Place St Pierre, lined with beautiful buildings some of which go back to the 15th century. Here you will find plenty of cafés and places to while away the hours while you enjoy the local wine and produce. We like the friendly Bistrot de Place where the tables spill out onto the pedestrianised square on a sunny day.
Don’t miss Saumur Chateau built in the 12th century, you can see it from miles around on its elevated position looking over the town and the River Loire. Under Louis XIV it became a prison and later a military barracks. All that chopping and changing took its toll on the castle’s famous good looks. However, it has been partially restored after architect Jean Drapeau found a picture by chance in a chapel in Paris showing it as a fairy-tale looking castle in 1410. The painting was once in the collection of the Duc de Berry and shows the castle with golden finials on beautiful pointy turrets. Drapeau restored the towers and gold details of this quite enormous building. You won’t find much furniture inside, there’s a small collection but go for the view over the town and the river – it is stunning. In July and August there are free shows in the gardens (details on the Saumur Tourist Office website, below).
Abbey Fontevraud: A few kilometres from Saumur, you’ll find the biggest abbey in Europe
Chateau Azay le Rideaux: One of the most enchanting castles in the world - Azay le Rideau looms like a fairy tale out of the waters of the River Indre in the Loire Valley.
Angers, a city with a multi-era legacy of stunning architecture; a history that saw it as the pre-Revolution capital of Anjou province, and a modern-day trade in Anjou wines and liqueurs, notably Cointreau and Menthe Pastille. Don’t miss seeing the famous tapestries of Angers. At the chateau of Angers is one of the oldest tapestries in France to have survived since the 14th century. Not far away in the Hopital Saint-Jean is a modern masterpiece, a series of tapestries by Jean Lurcat – utterly stunning.
Chinon: Chinon nestles in the heart of the Val de Loire resting by the banks of the majestic Vienne river in the Indre-et-Loire department. The medieval town has a colourful past and is dominated by the Chateau de Chinon, an ancient fortress which is steeped in history.
La Fleche: Situated half way between Angers and Le Mans in the Sarthe department, La Fleche is a colourful and buzzing little town that nestles on the banks of the River Loir in the Vallée du Loir (which translates as the Valley of the Dormouse). The Sunday morning market is wonderful and there are loads of great restaurants, boulangeries and cafés. Nearby is a zoo and the wonderful Chateau du Lude.
We love to help make your holiday dreams come true and have loads of fabulous holiday rentals we have in and around Saumur – Bons Vacances!
Tours is an ancient city in the department of Indre et Loire, Centre, Loire Valley, Centre. Surrounded by vineyards, chateaux, charming villages and historic towns, it’s a terrific place to visit in its own right and known as the gateway to the Loire Valley.
IN Tours, you’ll discover a modern city centre with a lively air, an old part of town with a famous cathedral and winding cobbled streets lined with cafes and restaurants and half-timbered houses There are plenty of museums so there’s plenty to do when you’re not tasting wine in vineyards or chateau hopping.
Tours Saint-Gatien cathedral is a majestic building, first built in 337, it burnt down in 561. It was restored on the same site in 590, rebuilt in the 12th century, again in the 13th century. It was finally completed in 1547 and that’s the version we see today. The Romanesque architecture is simply stunning with gorgeous stained-glass windows and a grand organ, it’s a must see in a city of must-sees.
There are several museums in Tours – Musée de la Typo, nothing to do with spell checking, it’s a fascinating place, full of print memorabilia including a press that’s almost 400 years old. There’s also a fine arts museum and natural history museum.
Musée du Compagnonnage was formerly a dormitory for monks at the Benedectine Abbey of Saint Julien in the 13th Century. With more than 1000 artefacts on display include tools and documents from the trades of the area including stone, copper, leather and other textiles. The wood work and carvings are phenomenal, a great place to go with children.
For some outstanding contemporary art, head to Centre de Creation Contemporaine Olivier Debré. Opened in 2017 it’s a fascinating building, with some of the most ambitious modern art projects anywhere in France.
The old part of Tours is great to wander. Cobbled streets, medieval houses, ancient buildings, lots of shops, restaurants and cafés.
Visit Les Halles market, open for over 150 years, this is the belly of the town. Enjoy culinary delights such as local cheeses and wines and take the weight off your feet in one of the many delicious restaurants. (Open daily).
If you like flea markets, head to Tours on the fourth Sunday of the month, when a massive brocante is held on Boulevard Béranger (not in December).
Pop into the Botanical Gardens for a relaxing break. You’ll discover an orangery, exhibition greenhouse and pools plus a small animal park. With over 5 hectares of greenery and more than 2000 plants, trees and shrubs to take in, why not take a picnic from the market.
Tired of walking? Take a river cruise along the Loire from the old port in Tours in a traditional flat-bottomed boat, known as a ‘Toue’. You’ll get a fabulous view of the town and enjoy stunning scenery on a relaxing river tour.
Head to Place Plumereau and take your pick from a whole raft of excellent cafes whose tables spill into this medieval square. Exuberant, vibrant and colourful - it won’t come as any surprise to anyone who goes there to know that this square has been voted by the French as the best place in France for an aperitif.
Discover more about Tours: www.tours-tourisme.com
We have loads of lovely holiday homes in the Indre et Loire department – pop over to our home page to begin your search. We love helping to make your holiday dreams come true…
Cannes, a resort town on the French Riviera, is famous for its international film festival – but there’s much more to this lively town than that. It’s the perfect city for a sunshine winter break.
Although it’s cooler in winter months, it’s often warm enough for T shirts during the day. Strolling the Boulevard de la Croisette, the wide road that curves around the coast, lined with sandy beaches, upmarket boutiques and palatial hotels, is always a pleasure…
Just a short ferry ride from mainland Cannes, are the “Iles de Lérins”, a small cluster of islands. Here you’ll find a totally different vibe from the hustle of Cannes. On the Island of Sainte-Marguerite, inhabited since Roman times, you’ll discover the Fort Royal, where the “Man in the Iron Mask” was imprisoned.
You’ll also see the ruins of an old fort, vineyards, forests and walk ways. The views from the top of the island are well worth the climb. Ferries run throughout winter.
Marché Forville is a fabulous market which offers local fresh foods, seafood, meats, pasta, cheese, breads, nuts and oils, spices and wines, fruits and vegetables. Open six days a week (Mondays are antiques and art) and in winter when the mimosa blossoms in the area – it’s an absolute feast for the eyes.
As Cannes is most well known for its role in the film industry its not surprising the walls of the buildings in the main town reflect this heritage. Wall murals depict film scenes, directors filming and film reels, including older classic films and stars. There is a Petit Train tourist ride you take to see the paintings, but you can get closer by walking through the town, or take a guided tour on foot from the tourist office - it’s well worth it.
Right in the heart of the oldest part of Cannes, perched up high is the church of Notre Dame d’Esperance. It is well worth the hike to the top, but if steep hills and stairs are tough for you, take the Petit Train from the town. It stops here for about 10 minutes, allowing you to take in the scenery along the seafront and the bay.
The church is small but has beautiful stained glass windows and statues. From the courtyard with its walled entrance, you’ll have the most incredible views over Cannes.
Follow the winding paths through the beautiful nature reserve of the Hill of La Croix-des-Gardes in a smart district of Cannes. There are acres of grassland with beautiful wild flowers, shrubs and trees, with spectacular views from the high point.
With numerous fabulous restaurants, bars, bistros and cafés to indulge in the local gastronomy, a winter break in Cannes is perfect for blowing away the winter blues.
French Connections has lots of accommodation in and around Cannes, take a look and find your dream holiday home…
Morbihan is one of the most popular tourist destinations in South Brittany – and we know why! It’s the perfect mix of country and coast and there’s so much to fall in love with. Here are five of our favourite things to see in magical Morbihan…
The region takes its name from the words: Mor-Bihan, which means "little sea" in the Breton language. The natural harbour of the Gulf of Morbihan is the most famous feature of the coast line and is included in the official "Club of The Most Beautiful Bays in the World". Apart from its good looks it’s also great for nautical jaunts. And if that’s not enough, there are, apparently, 365 islands off the coast, perfect for explorers!
Whatever you have planned when you’re in the Morbihan area, do seek out the 15th century picture perfect port of St Goustan in Auray, named after the patron saint of sailors and fishermen. Approach it via a steep narrow road just off the square leading you down to the river Auray. As you cross the bridge you will enter an almost perfectly preserved 600 year old harbour that is today full of restaurants and cafés, a great place to pass the time. Often there are ancient boats tied up at the quayside giving a flavour of times past.
It was here that Benjamin Franklin landed in December 1776 for secret meetings with the King of France. Franklin took the road to Paris to ask France for help in the American War of Independence and one of the quays is now named after him.
This little town of winding cobbled streets is a place of history, character, colour and beautiful medieval architecture. With its rues full of cafés, restaurants and quaint little shops selling local produce and gifts, it makes for a perfect day out. If you’re lucky enough to be there when the market is on, you’ll discover the sleepy town come to life. From fresh bread, cheeses, olives and seafood, clothes, shoes and leather goods, you’ll be sure to find a treat!
In Carnac discover the French equivalent of Stonehenge – but much bigger. Carnac is known throughout the world for its unique rows of ancient standing stones. The megalithic mystery of these incredible, huge blocks of stones makes most people stop in their tracks. Don’t miss a trip to the lovely long sandy beach of Carnac Plage and the chance to enjoy succulent oysters which are farmed in the area…
Tucked away in the small town of Le Faouet is a beautiful romantic chapel, with fairy tale style turrets and surrounded by stunning countryside. The chapel was built in gratitude to Sainte Barbe by a knight seeking shelter from a great storm hundreds of years ago. Inside there are wonderful statues and stained-glass windows. Take the path down to the river to discover a natural spring. It’s the perfect place to take a moment, sit by the flowing river and listen to it find its way down to the coast, the wildlife here is wonderful. Don’t forget to ring the bell in the guardhouse and make a wish on your way back on to the centre of town – it’s a tradition here!
In the town you’ll find an art museum reflecting the heritage of this secret part of Brittany which has inspired many artists over the centuries. There are plenty of little cafés and a lively market (first and third Wednesday of the month), and don’t miss the 16th century covered market place…
Morbihan is home to dozens of off the beaten track gorgeous little villages, just waiting for you to discover them.
Tourist office website: www.morbihan.com/
French Connections has loads of lovely holiday homes in the area – we love to help you make your holiday wishes come true…
When you look out of your window and the sky is grey, it’s cold and winter has a way to go, it’s time to plan your next holiday in France.
Here at French Connections we have loads of offers to tempt and entice you to take your dream holiday in France…
Check France out our Special Offers section where there are loads of terrific offers exclusive to French Connections customers. Money off, discounts and early bookings offers – grab a deal on a French holiday home, farmhouse, cottage or villa.
See all offers here: Discounts and special offers
If you’re in the enviable position of being able to take a last minute holiday, we have some terrific bargains. Whether you’re hankering after a bit of winter sun, summer at a seaside resort, city breaks, cultural holidays or countryside retreat – check out the deals here: Last minute holiday deals across France
For those able to take an extended holiday, we’ve got some great treats in store. Check out our article dedicated specifically to long let holidays in France.
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Donna, Izzy, Laura and Janine