A castle-palace of the Dukes of Anjou in the 14th and 15th centuries, a one-time residence of King René I, the château of Saumur is the ultimate example of the princely palaces built by the Valois dynasty at the end of the Middle Ages. Residence of town governors, prison, and subsequently arms and ammunition depot, it was reacquired by the town of Saumur in 1906 to host the municipal museum, now known as Musée de France.
The Château de Saumur is situated at the top of a promontory overlooking the confluent of the Loire and the Thouet and the surrounding plain. The first edifice, mentioned in a text dated 968, left hardly any traces. History informs us that it was erected by Theobald “The Cheater”, Count of Blois, in view of protecting the monastery of Saint-Florent, a recent arrival on the site. In 1026, the Count of Anjou Nerra took hold of the château, which remained in the hands of the Counts of Anjou up until the 1203 defeat of John “Lackand”.
In the early 12th century an imposing donjon was constructed and lent its quadrangular shape to the castle. In 1351, the king of France John II (“The Good”) granted the county of Anjou as an appanage to his second son, Luis, who in 1360 became Louis I, Duke of Anjou. He transformed the fortress into a castle-palace, leveling the donjon and setting up space for the interior court. The famed miniature of the month of September illustrating the “The Very Rich Hours of the Duke of Berry” provided an authentic view of the edifice as it was in the early 15th century. It was only following the death of King René in 1480 that the château of Saumur and, more generally, Anjou, fell back into the royal domain.
In 1589, when Philippe Duplessis-Mornay became governor of Saumur, erection of a formidable fortification surrounding the château began; only in 1646 was it finally completed. By the end of the 17th century, the fortress was deteriorating so badly that some of its parts had collapsed; up until the fall of the Ancien Régime, it nevertheless remained a residence for town governors. In the early 19th century, on the orders of Napoleon, the château became a state prison, thereby removing it from the road to ruin. It subsequently became an arms and ammunition depot.
Ever since 1912, the Château de Saumur has housed the town museum, which contains two major collections, one dedicated to the decorative arts from the Middle Ages to the 18th century and the other to harness equipment from Antiquity to the early 20th century. The museum enjoys unique setting with an exceptional panoramic view of the town and the Loire. The overall beauty of the site is underscored during open-air movie screenings and on the occasion of the wine harvest (vendanges) festival. The château is showcased not only by the different exhibitions it programs year in and year out, but also by the children’s activities through which, during a fun-filled tour, they can discover the glorious history of Saumur.
- Free individual visits
- Guided individual tours
- Guided individual tours on request
- Average duration of the individual visit : 1h30
- Groups welcome from 12 people
- Free group tours
- Guided group tours
- Guided group tours on request
- Average duration of the group visit : 1h30
- Parlées : French, English
- Specific themed events
- Workshop for children
Full adult price : € 8.50
Children's price : € 6.50 (7 - 16 ans)
Price for large families : € 24.00
Discounted rate : € 6.50 Etudiant, demandeur d'emploi, personne en siuation de handicap
Free of charge Gratuit pour les moins de 7 ans.
- Credit card
- Cheques and postal orders
- Holiday vouchers
Services and equipments
- Picnic area