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11
Saumur Museum Trip

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les chars francais
I will admit I have a real fascination with French tanks, particularly those on the cusp of development before the Fall of France as well as those clandestinely developed during the war. The French had a massive tank force as the war began, a long lineage back to the very first tanks including probably the most influential tank of WW1, and a research line on a par with anything the Germans or US had in 1940. But they lost quickly and much of this has been forgotten. For those of us who are interested in les chars Francais, the Museum at Saumur is the ultimate destination.

Getting there
The good news is that it is quite easy to get from Paris to Saumur. The bad news is that it isnít cheap, with the round trip ticket at $207 each for our Sunday 2 hour trip. In addition, this is a busy train and traveling first class with an assigned seat is a really, really good idea. My wife and I travelled down on first class as the upcharge was about $10 each. The train was spacious and comfortable and the view was beautiful. The trip back was in steerage, er, not first class. Half the trip we spent sitting on the stairs as we couldnít find any available seats and the constant parade of people trying to get to the bathroom by us on the 2 foot wide steps was a great deal of fun.

The town of Saumur itself is rather pretty in passing. Taxis are available at the train station and you can arrange with them to pick you up at the museum at a predetermined time which is what we did. After a 10 minute trip we arrived at the museum. There are several tanks on display outside, but as our time was limited and the drizzle starting we went inside.

Entering through the gift shop the young man at the desk was very nice and spoke decent English when my mediocre French failed me while trying to locate an ATM, which is an important point: they donít take American Express, a US debit card may or may not work, and the nearest ATM is about a five minute walk away, so bring cash Euros. Admission is cheap, 8 Euros for admission and a further 5 Euros for permission to take photos. The gift shop is nice but I didnít see much there that isnít easily available on the internet. That said, youíll save a lot on shipping if you replenish your Histoire et Collections bookshelf here. At any rate, walk from the gift shop and youíre in the WW1 section.

the French collection
Several cannon are displayed as well as a CA Schneider, early St Chamond, and Ft-17 tanks. The tanks are in immaculate condition and I greatly appreciated that the museum staff have kindly left an awful lot of open doors and hatches so the modeler can see inside. Keep walking and youíre in the interwar and 1940 section. Fifteen cannon, tanks, and armored cars await you. If it fought, itís probably here. Again, most have open hatches so you can see inside. Hang a right and youíre in the WW2 German section.

Rather perversely the biggest section of the museum is dedicated to the conquerors of France, the WW2 Germans. Of course, there was an awful lot of their hardware left behind as they retreated back to Germany in 1944-45. Converted French tanks, Panthers, Tigers, Luchs, etc. are in this large room and are, again, very well maintained and cared for. At this point you havenít even seen half of what the museum has to offer.

PT-76ís, Conquerors, AMX 50, T-72, T-62, AMX-30, LeClerc, Pz 61, Leopard 2, M4 Sherman, Churchill Mk.V, Jagdpanzer Kanone, and on and on and on. The collection is immense and even if you have no interest in the French tanks, there are a massive amount of vehicles to look at. Heck, the German vehicles included rival the collection at Bovington and Aberdeen, and not much short of the German tank museum at Muenster.

For 13 Euros this is an outstanding museum. The train may be expensive, but the collection and access was well worth it in my opinion.
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About the Author

About Matt Flegal (ninjrk)
FROM: ALABAMA, UNITED STATES


Comments

Isn't that always the way? LOL indeed. For what is actually on display, I think they are pretty comparable for AFV's. Saumur seems to have more items on display but a lot of those are field pieces and the like. Bovington edges slightly ahead because the museum is better lit, has more in the way of displays and full scale dioramas, and is a hell of a lot cheaper to get to from London than Saumur is from Paris. All of that said, Saumur feels more like an informal "see the tanks" museum than an event museum and I kind of like that. See both if you can, I will say that staying in Paris was noticeably cheaper than London and I truly love Paris and have for years. So there's that. . .
MAY 13, 2014 - 02:31 PM
What you said.... I'll be there for a week starting the 23rd, but I don't think I'll have time to get down to Saumur.
MAY 13, 2014 - 04:13 PM
[quote]Concerning the fee for taking pictures, you visitors must be aware that if the vehicles and the buildings are state-owned, the museum is run by an association without a state contribution. The association has a large number of volunteers (who maintain the vehicles in working condition for instance) but also some permanent staff to pay (secretary, shop keepers, cashiers ...). Asking 5 euros for allowing you to take as many pictures as you want is not that high and it helps preserving the collection. Olivier - I don't (and didn't) have a problem with the fee, just that I'd have preferred to have been told when I entered. Given how far I had come (from Australia!) I would have happily paid any reasonable fee, particularly as the better half wasn't there to see how much I spent. Regards Rob
MAY 13, 2014 - 07:08 PM
Hi all, hopefully I will be visiting Saumur in June. I would also like to get to Azimut shop in Paris - can someone confirm the address for me plase? Best regards ian
MAY 13, 2014 - 07:19 PM
Rob, I got your point(s) particularly the last one about SWMBO Ian, their site gives their new address. The shop is in a yard (cour). The circled Ms on the map are for the underground stations. Olivier
MAY 14, 2014 - 10:03 AM
Thanks Olivier - very much appreciated. Hopefully I will have a chance to get there. Best regards Ian
MAY 14, 2014 - 02:50 PM
Wow, that's about 10 minutes from Blast Models.
MAY 14, 2014 - 04:24 PM
Yeah, the one thing I wish I'd had time for was to visit those stores. Even more so, supposedly the publisher of Air Magazine is in Paris and might still have the 1/72 Cao 700 heavy bomber kit available. Someday. . .
MAY 14, 2014 - 05:05 PM
Very interesting visit! What a shame I live in Paris and never went there yet :/ Have to consider going there soon
MAY 14, 2014 - 06:38 PM
By the way, Bill_c and Ninjrk, you doesn't seem to be aware that Blast shop has closed last month (1st of march)... They are leaving Paris as much as I know. They say they will continue producing resin models soon though... See LINK for more info. Sorry for the bad news...
MAY 14, 2014 - 06:43 PM
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