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Things to do in Saumur • Further afield

Explore the glories of the Loire valley from Saumur

© Time Out / EH
L'Abbaye de Fontevraud

Abbaye de Fontevraud

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History alone would make the Abbaye de Fontevraud an absorbing destination, but the sweeping site on a Loire Valley hillside is also architecturally stunning, and in recent years has been redeveloped as a thriving cultural, artistic and educational hub. A day spent wandering the grounds and exploring the buildings' many-layered stories promises to be uniquely memorable.Founded by a radical preacher as a women's only religious commune in 1101, the Abbaye de Fontevraud was run by a series of noble abbesses and played major social and political functions...

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France

Where to dine in the Loire Valley

Au Chapeau Rouge • Chinon • The Red Hat (named after the hats worn by the royal post carriage drivers) is one of Chinon’s finest restaurants. Chef Christophe Duguin gives pride of place to locally grown, seasonal produce, and the menu might include starters like duo of home-smoked, Loire-caught fish served with lime cream, followed by mains like lamb steak roasted with dried fruits and served with wine-soaked rillons. To finish, maybe fondant of chocolate with red wine jelly and saffron ice cream. The wine list is excellent... Le Favre d’Anne • Angers • In a prime spot overlooking the Maine river and Château d’Angers, this classy one Michelin-starred restaurant...

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France

Where to stay in the Loire Valley

Château des Briottières • Angers • The frustration of seeing so many glorious châteaux but never being able to stay in one is solved at this gorgeous, family-run 16th-century castle, which oozes history and romance from every nook and cranny. In fact the whole place is so lovely, with its ancient park, swimming pool and sumptuous period decor, that you might never want to leave. The 11 rooms all feature antique furniture, thick floral fabrics and bathrooms big enough to live in. All in all, a superlative, princely experience. Le Diderot • Chinon With ancient beams, 19th-century furniture, warm-toned fabrics and a flower-filled terrace...

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France
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Hot-air ballooning

It seems unreal, drifting like a bird on a warm breeze above the pepperpot-towered châteaux of the Loire, but that’s exactly what Montgolfières d’Anjou do between Easter and October, when six of its balloons ship a lucky few up, up and away into the air above the Loire. The castles are impressive enough from the ground, but nothing can prepare you for the delights of their dramatic proportions when seen from above. Then there’s the countryside: quilts of green expanding into the horizon, interrupted only by roads, towns, rivers and, of course, the magnificent châteaux themselves. Montgolfières d’Anjou’s balloons take off from several sites in the region...

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