Part 9: Saumur


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The Trip

We spent only one night in La Mans and then saw the cathedral and Saumur before heading to Chenonceau.

The Photos

The photos below are what we saw.

The chateau at Saumur overlooks the Loire River.  The fertile river valley has been a contested location since before the middle ages.  Saumur was constructed to defend against interlopers.

This chateau was purchased by the city in the late 1800s and has been the subject of near constant restoration efforts since then.  Some of the areas are in very poor condition; poor enough to prevent access until efforts are complete.

Jim and Kathleen check out the drawbridge.

The city of Saumur created this flower garden in the shape of the city crest.

The chateau had a corny setup for taking photos.  I think I look good with double goatees.

Some portions of the upper reaches of the chateau were restored, but not accessible to the public.

The upper deck at the chateau provided a dramatic view of the Loire River bridge.

This mechanism is used to hoist water from the well deep below the ground floor of the chateau.

These portions of the walls have been restored, reproducing the intricate details of the original stone carvings.

This section of the wall was restored as well.

This portion, however, is not restored and is in danger of failing.  Note the steel and wood braces.

This portion of the chateau needs work, particularly at the base and on the outer ramparts.

Like most of these places, we had to exit through the gift shop.  But, I spotted an interesting poster that made it worth while.  It would likely be more interesting if I read French.

The chateau staff put on a horsemanship show while we were there.  Having owned these dimwitted creatures in my past, it was amusing.

I have no idea how they train a horse to sit like this.

One of the staff put on a riding skills demonstration and skewered a ring from the hand of a helper at full gallop using a lance.

On a second pass the rider demonstrated the ability to split an apple using a sword at full gallop wearing a helmet.  Rather impressive.

From Saumur, we headed to the Combier distillery that made the first Orange liqueur as well as absinthe and other liqueurs.  Sadly for Combier, there were no copyright or patent laws back then and his idea was stolen by Contreau.  But, the Combier prevailed based on the strength of his products. The tour took us through the distilling area.

Some of the equipment dates back to the late 1800s and it made out of solid copper.

The fixtures were made out of hand crafted steel beams that were riveted together.

The best part of this view is not just seeing it go away but recognizing the irony of the name on her bag.

From the distillery we went to the Cave Louis de Grenelle sparkling wine factory.  They grow their own grapes and the grapes are shipped to the bottling plant and storage areas.  The aging is done in a 2.5 km tunnel far underground to maintain constant temperature.  The tour takes you underground and above the guide is explaining their process.

The tunnels were carved using slave labor in the 1500s.  The tunnels doubled as a quarry to provide material for Chateau Saumur.  The process of making sparkling wine requires crushing large amount of grapes and the wheel above was part of that process.

The facility has over 4 MILLION bottles of sparkling wine in the tunnels waiting for the correct age.

To put this in perspective, there were 2.5 kilometers of bottles stacked on the walls.

The rough translation of the carving is "come when you want, leave if you can" referring to the habit of getting drunk in the tunnels.

Some of the old equipment from the 1800s was on display in the tunnels.

The stone seat made a good place to take a photo.

I had a French fellow stumble upon my website and emailed me the correct translation for this passage.  Per his email: "Good wine is France, and without it is sufferance".  Given the capitalization of the French word "sousFrance" it is intended as a pun. Thanks to Mr. Balez for the translation.

An abandoned country farm house surrounded by sunflowers outside of Chenonceau.

As we came into Chenonceau a flotilla of hot air balloons were coming back to earth.

Michele chose our hotels and she did a first rate job on this one.  A quaint room in a 4-star hotel with an awesome restaurant.

Unlike the other rooms we had so far, this one had a sitting room in addition to the bedroom.  And a patio.

The bathrooms were very nice and spacious in contrast to the normal European style.

On our second night in Chenonceau we had wine on the patio.

Tomorrow, we visit the chateau at Chenonceau.

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Photos and Text Copyright Bill Caid 2013, all rights reserved.
For your enjoyment only, not for commercial use.