Guest Post written by @cossana

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For those living around Paris and at a loose end for knowing where to go for a relaxing weekend or a day-trip, only two words today : Go West!

Around 3 hours from Paris by Autoroute, there is a magic town called Saumur, in the part of France known as “Pays de la Loire”.

Lovers of castles, wine and especially beautiful acrobatic horses, this is the best destination for you.

As soon as you enter the town, you’ll be fascinated by the famous Cavalry School “Cadre Noir”.

If you’re lucky enough, you can see one of the may a shows/competitions that are held here; in any case, there are always riders in their impressive military costumes, training their beautiful, acrobatic and extremely well-dressaged horses.

The best advice I can offer, is park your car there, just in front of the School, there’s a large free parking area.

Not only to walk through the town, because there are so many things to see and visit, but also, you may not find another free parking space in the town, at least in what is the center of Saumur – I didn’t, so if you find one, please let me know?

Once you able to drag yourself away from the horses (it was very hard for me, I admit) you may want to go take a look to the centauries statue “Monument aux Morts” or the armoured vehicules dating from the Second World War around it, situated just behind the car park.

In front of the statue, you can admire the white and blue building of “Ecole de Chevalerie”.

Now it’s time to finally enter the town.

Straight ahead, the street is usually full of tourists, sitting comfortably in the sidewalk cafes.

There are also little shops for souvenirs, especially local crafts and foods. You continue on until you literally fall into the market, selling lovely fresh fruit and vegetables or on to the clothes market, some three impressive alleys of clothes/shoes/bags from cheap to expensive, always there, even when it’s raining and windy.

But, once you go out of this labyrinth of  “good deals” you’ve finally arrived at the pearl of Saumur, the Loire, which cuts the town in two, surrounded by an amazing bridge that I suggest you visit into the night, when it’s illuminated – it has a real fairytale aura about it with the lights reflected into the river Loire.

Right here, on the Loire, you can take the boat from one bank to the other, from April to September for 12 euros per person.

You’ll have the privilege to have a guided visit and a glass of local wine, while admiring the houses cut into caves in the cliffs.

The Tourism Office situated just in front of the bridge, provides you with maps and guides of the town, of course, along with guided visits of local vineyards and wine tastings, mushrooms cellars, and the most captivating, the houses called “les maisons troglodytes” actually inset into the cliffs on the banks of the river.

Among the “Maisons Troglodytes” there are some modern ones which are inhabited today, which are a rare, sought after and expensive commodity  today on the housing market.

If you aren’t scared of walking and climbing the hill, you can go and visit the remarkable Château of Saumur, built around the 9th century which nowadays houses the Decorative Arts Museum.

Last but not least, getting out of the town, there are plenty of sites to visit around Saumur : mills, museums, parks and gardens, Biopark Doue-la-Fontaine.

A great place for a day-trip from the capital or a relaxing weekend.

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Guest Post written by @cossana – follow @cossana on Twitter

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