With all the superb wine flavours flowing through the region, it should come as no surprise that there are also some exceptional eating options in Saumur, to help mop up the booze in style. A range of appealing cafés and bars dot the town centre, mostly concentrated around the central square; of these, the perfect place for an apéro is the Bistrot de la Place. Ensconced at one of their outdoor tables (or tucked away on a cosy banquette inside), you can sample an impressive range of local vintages by the glass, with patient guidance from the tourist-friendly staff. But this is no soulless enterprise – locals drop in for a chat and a snifter, and the food is also good quality and very affordable. You could easily while away a whole evening here, watching the world go by – in fact, you probably should.
If you want to go a bit more upmarket or have something to celebrate, head a little way out of the centre to L'Escargot (no website) for some seriously impressive cooking at seriously un-Parisian prices. An unpretentious little dining room is the setting for dishes cooked largely from local produce with proper epicurean flair – classic dishes like scallops, lamb and chocolate mousse linger long on the palate. Reservations recommended.
For a serious blow-out in sumptuous surroundings, there's Les Menestrels, set in a handsome low building that adjoins the rear courtyard of the Hôtel Anne d'Anjou. This is the place for more classical French haute cuisine – there's even a dedicated lobster menu – with its attendant thick linen tablecloths and hovering waiters. Here you can look forward to things like snails with a foaming, chive-infused butter sauce or duckling with quinoa; local market produce also has a place on the menu, as do plenty of local wines.
If you're looking for lunch while touring the wineries in Saint-Hilaire-Saint-Florent, consider stepping into Veuve Amiot, where absurdly generous meals are served in an original underground cave kitted out with long trestle tables and accompanied by fresh local bread.Bistrot de la Place 16 Place Saint Pierre. +33 (0)18.104.22.168.27. www.bistrotdelaplace-saumur.com.
L'Escargot30 Rue Maréchal-Leclerc. +33 (0)22.214.171.124.88. No website.
Les Menestrels11-13 Rue Raspail. +33 (0)126.96.36.199.10. www.restaurant-les-menestrels.com.
Veuve Amiot21 Rue Jean Ackerman. +33(0)188.8.131.52.14.www.veuveamiot.fr