Essential Architecture-  Loire Valley Châteaux

Château de Saumur




Loire Valley, north-western France.




French Renaissance




  The chateau at Saumur
Located in the French town of Saumur, in the Maine-et-Loire département, the Château de Saumur was originally constructed in the tenth century by Thibault le Tricheur, comte de Blois as a fortified stronghold against Norman predations. It overlooks the confluence of the Loire and the River Thouet. In 1026 it came into the hands of Fulk Nerra, count of Anjou, who bequeathed it to his Plantagenet heirs. Following its destruction in 1067, the château was rebuilt by Henry II of England in the later twelfth century.

In the early part of the 1200s, Philip II of France made Saumur part of his royal domain. It changed hands several times until 1589 when the Protestant King Henri IV (of France and Navarre) gave the castle to Duplessis-Mornay.

In 1621 the castle was converted into an army barracks then into a state prison under Napoleon Bonaparte.

In the first part of the 20th century, the city of Saumur acquired the castle and began a restoration program to house the museum of the decorative arts. In line with the Saumur area's equestrian tradition and its famous "Cadre Noir", the castle also serves as a Museum of the Horse. The castle has a dungeon and watchtower, and houses the Musée de la Figurine-Jouet, a collection of very old toys and figurines of soldiers, kings of France, and clowns.

The Château de Saumur has been listed as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture since 1862.