Wining, Dining and Sleeping in the Loire


View from
Hotel Bords de Loire

Hotel – Bords de Loire 
Rue Vieux Pont
T: +33 2 41 67 22 42
F: +33 2 41 67 88 80 
This is something of a bed factory of a hotel was taken over by Mercure in 2009. It's pretty basic, but id does enjoy one of the best views of anywhere along the Loire, looking straight up to the chateau which sits above the town on the opposite side of the river. Be sure to remember to book a river facing room. (Last stayed: 01/11)

Restaurant – Café de la Place

16 place St-Pierre
T: +33 2 41 51
13 27
F: +33 2 41 5
1 27 34
Situated on the same busy square in the centre of the town as the entry below. Be sure, when selecting your table in the town, that you choose this place over the other. This proper bistro opened in 2009 and has quickly established itself as the best informal dining option in the town. The food is authentic and seasonal; expect to see salads of asparagus and broad beans in spring, alongside classics such as steak tartare and frites. The wine list is fantastic, and has been supported by local growers who have opened their cellar doors to liberate old vintages. Prices are very reasonable for both food and wine. Service is friendly, if a little slow when they are busy. Very highly recommended. Closed all day Sunday and Wednesday evening. (Dined twice in 2010 - February and May).  

Restaurant – Auberge Saint-Pierre
6 place St-Pierre
T: +33 2 41 51 26 25
F: +33 2 41 59 89 28
This is the restaurant most guide books recommend when eating in Saumur. It is an authentic bistro, but the quality of the food is nothing more that average. The wine list is pretty ordinary too, listing current vintages of some of the more predictable growers in the region.
(Last dined: 06/03)

Restaurant – Les Forges de Saint-Pierre
1 place St-Pierre
T: +33 2 41 38 21 79
Just across the square from the Auberge Saint-Pierre is Les Forges de Saint-Pierre (confusing, I know). At this simple grill, you will find a limited menu, but the quality is very good. There is an equally limited, but well chosen wine list. (Last dined: 07/05)  

Restaurant – Le Pot de Lapin
35-37 Rue Rabelais
T: + 33 2 41 67 12 86 
Le Pot au Lapin is located about 15 minutes walk along the south bank of the river to the east of the town. It's very much a neighbourhood restaurant, set in a quiet street flanked with modest ancient houses. Its owner, Olivier Thibault, relocated here from the centre of Saumur in 2007 (where he used to run L'Escargot'). It's small and compact, split into two rooms, the entrance serving as a bar where Olivier serves tapas and a great selection of local wines by the glass. The adjoining restaurant is light and airy and decorated with various wine memorabilia. One wall is dedicated to a huge blackboard which carries the menu and various recommendations and which wines he currently has open for tasting. For what I imagine is a pretty small kitchen, there is an extensive selection, made up mostly of local dishes. Rabbit, obviously, features regularly. There is an extensive wine list with an impressive selection of wines from Saumur and Saumur Champigny, all separated by commune, with some older examples too and prices are extremely reasonable. Understandably, this is a friendly and fun place, and well patronised by local vignerons and it's essential to book in advance. Excellent and proper food, a great atmosphere and service with a smile. There's no secret as to why this place is justifiably popular. Very highly recommended. Inexpensive (given the quality of the food and ingredients). Closed Sunday and Monday. (Last dined 04/11). 

Restaurant – Le Grand Bleu
6 rue de Marché
T: +33 2 41
67 41 83
Situated in a semi-pedestrian street in the centre of the town, Le Grand Bleu specialises in fish and seafood. It's a simple place where one can dine to the sound of whirling swifts (and boy-racers on Vespa's) in the spring and summer. The food is adequate and there is a sense of complacency throughout the dining experience. The wine list is short and carries little information on vintages and growers. Service can be laboured. Relatively inexpensive, but eat simply - oysters, moules-frites... and don't tax the kitchen too much by ordering more complex dishes for fear of disappointment. (Last dined 05/10).   

Restaurant – Le Gambetta
12 rue Gambetta
T: +33 2 41
67 6
6 66

Saumur's only Michelin starred restaurant. Owned by Céline and Mickaël Pihours, this is well worth a detour. The restaurant is situated in an old maison bourgeois about a ten minute walk from the town centre. The food is creative, inventive and very clever; thankfully, never loosing site of substance over novelty. There is a strong Asian/Indian influence over many of the dishes, which is weaved into the menu so well that it only compliments the overall classical nature of the cuisine. The service is exact and friendly; the wine list comprehensive and, when it comes to the Loire selection, is well chosen with some of the best names represented. Overall this is highly recommended and also offers excellent value. Closed Sunday evening, Monday and Wednesday. (Last dined 05/10). 

This is an excellent base for accessing the appellations of Saumur-Champigny, Chinon and across the river into Bourgueil. It has the added attraction of being a small and very attractive village, the centre of which is the Abbaye Royale, one of the most complete monastic buildings anywhere in France, and the final resting place of the Plantagenet dynasty, including Eleanor of Aquitaine who died in Fontvreaud in 1204.   

Hotel-Restaurant – Prieuré St-Lazare
T: +33 2 41 51 73 16
F: +33 2 41 51 75 50
Situated in the grounds of the Abbaye Royale, this former priory, prison and leper colony has been transformed into a relaxing retreat. The benefit of checking in here is that the price includes entry into the abbey. In the evening the grounds are deserted, so a great way to avoid the daily crowds. The priory’s old cloister serves as the restaurant.
(Last stayed: 07/08)

Hotel-Restaurant – Hostellerie de la Croix Blanche
T: +33 2 41 51 71 11
F: +33 2 41 38 15 38
This old coaching inn sits at the entrance to the Abbaye Royale. There are some 23 rooms and two different restaurants: one formal 'Le Plantagenêt', the other a bistro 'La Fontaine d'Evraud'. Since 2005 it has been in the hands of Christophe and Mieke Chabenat who have turned around its poor reputation. Dinner in the gastronomic restaurant offers a wide choice of dishes and menu options but there is a strong sense of consideration towards celebrating regional dishes whilst at the same time respecting the seasonality of ingredients. Christophe's cooking is clear precise as is the service. Given the quality on offer, prices seem very reasonable. The wine list is well chosen, although some older vintages from the local appellations within Touraine and Anjou-Saumur would be welcome. The rooms also have enjoyed some serious upgrading and come in three separate levels of luxury. There is a swimming pool, private car park and free wi-fi access throughout. Highly recommended. (Last dined 04/11)

Restaurant – La Licorne
Allée Ste Catherine
T: +33 2 41 51 72 49
F: +33 2 41 51 70 40
This used to be one of my favourite places to dine in the Loire . It is accessed off a small gravel alley in the centre of the town. The wine list is extensive with some older vintages available, although I felt the list was being allowed to run down a little on my most recent visit. The food is as classical, although it sadly lost its Michelin star in 2010. Service from the young brigade here is thankfully informal and relaxed. (Last dined: 08/08)

A hamlet on the south bank of the Loire , five miles west of Saumur.

Hotel-Restaurant –

T: +33 2 41 67 90 14
F: +33 2 41 67 92 24
This priory, which dates back to the 12th century sits high above the Loire and enjoys some spectacular views. The accommodation is either in large and well decorated rooms in the main building, or in (less desirable) modern chalets. The food here is formal and a bit predictable, and although the wine list offers some interesting bottles, it is a bit overpriced. Generally this is an expensive place to stay and eat and doesn’t offer particularly good value.
(Last dined: 02/08)

Les Rosiers-sur-Loire
Les Rosiers is a small town lying equidistant between Saumur and Angers on the north bank of the Loire . Strictly speaking, it is not within a wine growing area, but the villages of the Coteaux de l’Aubance and Anjou-Brissac are within easy reach. 

Hotel-Restaurant – Au Val de Loire
Place de l’Eglise
T: +33 2 41 51 80 30
F: +33 2 41 51 95 00
Situated in the centre of town, this modest Logis de France hosts a pleasant small, traditional restaurant serving seasonal dishes with a wine list composed of more recent vintages from local appellations. The rooms are serviceable, if a little small.
(Last stayed and dined: 06/04)

Restaurant – La Touque Blanche
Route d’Angers
Les Rosiers-sur-Loire
T: +33 2 41 51 80 75
F: +33 2 41 38 06 38
The restaurant sits on top of the levee overlooking the Loire on the Angers road. The food here is modern and very good, using both local and seasonal ingredients. There is also a good selection of older vintages on the wine list from across the Loire .
(Last dined: 06/04)


Chambres d'Hôtes - Le Grande Maison d'Athenay
Rue de la Cerisaie
Les Verchers-sur-Layon
T: + 33 2 41 40 35 06

Described as a 'private island' set in the heart of the vines. Run by Micaela Frow and Sue Hunt, they serve simple food and offer wine 'sampling suppers'. I have yet to stay here, but hope to soon.


Chambres d'Hôtes - Domaine de la Bellevue
8 Rue Jeanne Ogeron
T: + 33 5 49 22 34 09
Some eight kilometres south-east of the town, this bed and breakfast cum self catering cottage is run by English born Sarah-Jane Beaumont and her French, vigneron husband, Gérald, who conducts bespoke vineyard tours. 

La Breille-les-Pins
Actually closer to the vineyards of Bourgueil than Saumur, this commune of 500 souls is situated in the centre of a 300 hectare forest.

Hotel-Restaurant - L'Orée des Bois
2 rue Saumuroise
T: + 33 2 41 38 85 45
F: + 33 2 41 38 86 07
I haven't eaten here myself, but the place comes recommended by fellow Master of Wine, Martin Hudson, who has a holiday home close by. It's situated in a modern building (the previous one was burnt down, apparently, by a disgruntled former chef) and, according to Martin, serves good food. Closed Wednesday, and Sundays out of season. 


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