Saumur

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For the wine, see Saumur (wine). For the Canadian Supreme Court decision, see Saumur v. The City of Quebec.
Saumur
Panorama of Saumur.JPG
Coat of arms of Saumur
Coat of arms
Saumur is located in France
Saumur
Saumur
Coordinates: 47°15′36″N 0°04′37″W / 47.260000°N 0.0769°W / 47.260000; -0.0769Coordinates: 47°15′36″N 0°04′37″W / 47.260000°N 0.0769°W / 47.260000; -0.0769
Country France
Region Pays de la Loire
Department Maine-et-Loire
Arrondissement Saumur
Intercommunality Saumur Loire Développement
Government
 • Mayor (2008–2014) Michel Apchin
Area
 • Land1 66.25 km2 (25.58 sq mi)
Population (1999)
 • Population2 29,857
 • Population2 density 450/km2 (1,200/sq mi)
INSEE/Postal code 49328 / 49400
Elevation 20–95 m (66–312 ft)
(avg. 30 m or 98 ft)

1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km² (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.

2 Population without double counting: residents of multiple communes (e.g., students and military personnel) only counted once.
City coat of arms from 1699 to 1985
City coat of arms since 1986

Saumur (French pronunciation: ​[so.myʁ]) is a commune in the Maine-et-Loire department in western France.

The historic town is located between the Loire and Thouet rivers, and is surrounded by the vineyards of Saumur itself, Chinon, Bourgueil, Coteaux du Layon, etc. which produce some of France's finest wines.

History[edit]

Prior to the French Revolution Saumur was the capital of the Sénéchaussée de Saumur, a bailiwick, that existed until 1793. Saumur was then the location of the Battle of Saumur during the Revolt in the Vendée.

The Saumur City Hall
The Cessart bridge

During the Battle of France, in World War II, Saumur was the site of the Battle of Saumur (1940) where the town and south bank of the Loire was defended by the teenage cadets of the cavalry school.[citation needed]

In 1944 it was the target of several Tallboy and Azon bombing raids by Allied planes. The first raid, on 8/9 June 1944,[1] was against a railway tunnel near Saumur, seeing the first use of the 12,000 lb Tallboy "earthquake" bombs. The hastily organized night raid was to stop a planned German Panzer Division, travelling to engage the newly landed allied forces in Normandy. The panzers were expected to use the tunnel. No. 83 Squadron RAF illuminated the area with flares by four Avro Lancasters and marked the target at low level by three de Havilland Mosquitos. 25 Lancasters of No. 617 Squadron RAF then dropped their Tallboys with great accuracy. They hit the bridge, blocked the railway cutting and one pierced the roof of the tunnel, bringing down a huge quantity of rock and soil which blocked the tunnel, badly delaying the German reinforcements.[2][3]

On 22 June of the same year, nine Consolidated B-24 Liberators of the United States Army Air Forces used Azon 1,000 lb glide bombs against the Samur[4] Bridge; escorted by 43 North American P-51 Mustangs. During the morning of 24 June, 74 American Boeing B-17 Flying Fortresses were again dispatched to the bridge; 38 hit the primary and 36 hit Tours/La Riche Airfield without loss; escort was provided by 121 of 135 P-51s.[4]

The town of Saumur was awarded the Croix de Guerre with palm for its resistance and display of French patriotism during the war.

Demographics[edit]

Date of Population
(Source: Cassini[5] et INSEE[6])
1793 1800 1806 1820 1821 1831 1836 1841 1846 1851
12 300 9 585 9 984 - 10 454 10 652 12 020 12 258 12 566 14 119
1856 1861 1866 1872 1876 1881 1886 1891 1896
14 505 14 079 13 663 12 552 13 822 14 186 14 187 14 867 16 440
1901 1906 1911 1921 1926 1931 1936 1946 1954
16 233 16 392 16 198 15 956 16 210 16 532 17 158 17 635 18 169
1962 1968 1975 1982 1990 1999 2004 2007 -
20 773 21 551 32 515 32 149 30 131 29 857 - 28 113 -
For the census of 1962 to 1999 the official population corresponds with the population without duplicates according to the INSEE.

Main sights[edit]

Saumur is home to the Cadre Noir,[7] the École Nationale d'Équitation (National School of Horsemanship), known for its annual horse shows, as well as the Armoured Branch and Cavalry Training School, the officer school for armored forces (tanks). There is a tank museum, the Musée des Blindés, with more than 850 armored vehicles, wheeled or tracked. Most of them are from France, though some come from other countries such as Brazil, Germany, and the Soviet Union, as well as axis and allied vehicles of World War Two.

The School of Saumur is the name used to denote a distinctive form of Reformed theology taught by Moses Amyraut at the University of Saumur in the 17th century. Saumur is also the scene for Balzac's novel Eugénie Grandet, written by the French author in 1833, and the title of a song from hard rock band Trust (whose lyrics express their poor opinion of the city: narrow-minded, bourgeois and militaristic). Amongst the most important monuments of Saumur are the great Château de Saumur itself which stands high above the town, and the nearby Château de Beaulieu which stands just 200 metres from the south bank of the Loire river and which was designed by the architect Jean Drapeau. A giant sequoia tree (which is protected) stands in the grounds of Château de Beaulieu.

The architectural character of the town owes much to the fact that it is constructed almost exclusively of the beautiful, but fragile, Tuffeau stone.[8]

Notable people[edit]

Saumur was the birthplace of:

The French mathematician Abraham de Moivre initially studied logic at Saumur.

Marquis de Sade was briefly imprisoned in the Château de Saumur (then a prison) in 1768.

Twin towns[edit]

The town is twinned with:

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Saumur Tunnel, 9th June 1944". Royal Air Force Bomber Command 60th Anniversary. UK Crown. Retrieved 2007-05-24. 
  2. ^ "Campaign Diary June 1944". Royal Air Force Bomber Command 60th Anniversary. UK Crown. Retrieved 2007-05-24. 
  3. ^ Saumur Railway Tunnel dambusters.org.uk quoting AIR27/2128
  4. ^ a b "8th Air Force 1944 Chronicles". Retrieved 2007-05-25.  June[dead link]
  5. ^ http://cassini.ehess.fr/ Population by city before 1962 (results published on official journals or conserved in departmental archives)
  6. ^ INSEE : Population since the census of 1962
  7. ^ Official Website of The French national horse riding school. "The French national horse riding school". 
  8. ^ Augustus John Cuthbert Hare (1890). South-western France. G. Allen. pp. 84–. Retrieved 21 February 2011. 

External links[edit]