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Saumur

Saumur is a small city in the Maine-et-Loire département of France on the Loire River, with an approximate population of 30,000 (in 2001).
Saumur is home to the Cadre Noir[?], the École nationale d'equitation (National equestrian school), known for its annual horse shows. The region is noted for its beautiful centuries-old homes and churches, fine wines, and mushroom caves. At the Musee du Champignon visitors can find out how mushrooms are grown underground. The city is also famous for its factory where carnivals masks are made. The Musee du Masque has waxwork figures wearing carnival masks with intricate and colorful costumes.

Beginning in the 12th century, French peasants dug villages into the hillsides of the soft tuffeau stone along the Loire River, between Saumur and Montsoreau. Known as troglodytes[?], they built homes into the face of the cliffs and created hundreds of kilometers of underground passageways.

The university of Saumur became the university of French Protestantism before the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. During the French Wars of Religion, Huguenots used the troglodyte caves to hide. In recent years many of the troglodyte houses have been rebuilt and are open to visitors while others have been restored and occupied.

In the background of the photo, Chateau Saumur sits high on a spur of the tall cliff looking down on the Loire River at the mouth of the Thouet River[?]. Constructed as a fortified stronghold, after its destruction in 1067 the chateau was rebuilt by a member of the powerful Plantagenet family. In the first part of the 20th century, the city of Saumur acquired the chateau 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 chateau also serves as a Museum of the Horse.

Saumur has ancient ties to the military, going back to the 18th century when the cavalry school was founded here. The Musee des Blindés is dedicated to the history of tank warfare and the Musee de la Cavalerie has calvary history and depictions of battle scenes and old uniforms.

Saumur is the birthplace of internationally renowned fashion designer Coco Chanel (1883-1971) and despite being a small city, it is also the birthplace of several notables from the French film industry including:



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