Saumur

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Travel to Tours, original home of the French Language and stay in a beautiful Monastery for $40 full board

Saturday, September 25th, 2010

732 depicts a triumphant Charles Martel (mounted) facing ‘Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi (right) at the Battle of Tours.

The monastery is situated in the hilly countryside of Center in the Loire valley. There are numerous day trips to nearby cities including Tours, chief town of the Loire valley and capital of the Touraine region. The capital is rich with history and a well-preserved heritage. It was in Tours in 732 that Charles Martel halted the Moorish conquest of Europe when his Frankish army defeated the Arab army. Charles Martel’s halt of the invasion of French soil turned the tide of Islamic advances.

Tours was also the cradle of the French Renaissance. Signs of this artistic development include masterpieces such as the tomb of Charles VIII’s sons, the remains of St. Martin cloister and several mansions. In the atmospheric old quarter, the medieval lanes are fronted by an array of 12th to 15th century half-timbered houses, stairway towers, bustling cafes, boutiques and galleries. Quite close to the square the Hotel Gouin is an exemplary specimen of Renaissance domestic architecture. Musee des Beaux Arts is in the former archbishop’s palace. It preserves paintings from the Middle Ages to the 20th century including Mantegna, Rubens, Rembrandt, Boucher, Delacroix and Degas.

Historians have evidence of Jewish life in Tours as far back as the late 6th century. In the Middle Ages Jews lived in an area near the rue de la Caserne. The Jewish community still maintains a synagogue and community center.

The beguiling town of Saumur is among the most beautiful in the Loire valley. Fashioned out of the chalky tufa stone typical of the Loire, Saumur’s fairy tale white limestone castle perches atop the town and is home to a famous miniature, the Book of Hours. Nicknamed the “white town” most of Saumur’s architecture reflects its stone foundations but there are a number of restored half-timbered houses as well. Among its outstanding monuments is the 12th century Romanesque Church of Notre-Dame de Nantilly. Renowned for its sparkling white wines, Saumur’s wine cellars provide tastings of the famous Saumur Champigny, Cremant de Loire and the regal dry Saumur Brut. Beneath the city, mushrooms grow in the caves carved out of the limestone rock. Guided tours of the underground caves are available.

For more information go to: Monasteries of France