The streets of Saumur!

Well sorry for the title as impossible to tell you all the streets of Saumur but just the ones that we like and worth a picture. As we love to walk once in town , we delight ourselves with the wonderful architecture of these streets. Then, as an amateur historian i like to indulge on their beginnings by talking with the local people, visiting the tourist office and the folks at the various monuments in town. A rich tradition of France we enjoy it much. Hope you like it too. Thanks for reading it will be a bit long.

Oh yes Saumur is in the dept 49 of Maine et Loire in the region of Pays de la Loire, a different Loire.

First a bit of history and details on the wonderful central pretty Place de la Bilange. A large vacant lot that has hosted the weekly Saturday market since the 12C. The name appears between 1150 and 1200, in a charter where Marie de Maillé gives a house located “in bislenchia salmuriensi” The word becomes “Bislengia” in 1218 The French form “la Billenge” is attested in 1268. Without a doubt, the name comes from the word Bilanx, which becomes Bilancia in popular Latin and which designates a large balance characterized by a plague carrying two trays. Balance as in weights for merchants taxes.

From 1794 to 1808 it was called the Place du Salut Public, when the guillotine is installed at the location of the pillory. From 1808 to 1818: Napoleon Ier gives it his name since he came to spend an hour in the Blancler Hotel. Since 1818 it returns back to the primitive name, which, according to the law of the least effort…, the local Saumurois often abbreviate in place Bilange.


In 1913, the square offered around its perimeter eight cafes; complemented by a wide variety of shops. Its center is remodeled roughly every ten years. A stop for the tram makes a short appearance. In the early years of the 20C, the square was brightly lit by curious lampposts, comprising four gas burners surmounted by a huge electric bulb. In the 1950s, when it was decorated with a small fountain, very quickly filled with earth. In the 2000s, the shopping mall appeared. Some of the nice buildings to see here are at no. 1 to 6 – The Bourse building and the following houses were built in 1772-1773, in the style of the facades of rue Molière. No 15 – Large solemn building from 1876, covered with moldings, coats of arms, pediments, fruit, flowers and bearing the initials “CP. At no. 16 – House bearing the date of 1731 on its skylight. No. 17 – Building dating back to 1746 . At the angle of the place de la Bilange and the quai Carnot see the Budan hotel, this luxurious hotel, completed around 1852, became the residence of all passing personalities. And finally the Place de la Bilange did not escape its English roundabout, intended to smooth the circulation as in traffic circle.

The Place Saint Pierre was briefly called in 1794: Place de la Fraternité during the French revolution. It is a wonderful picturesque square today and back been call the Place St Pierre for its Church St Pierre. The place de l’église and a passage, the carrefour de le Cohue, that is to say the carrefour de la Halle. This passage is very narrow; it crosses an old building built on pillars and comprising on the ground floor halls surrounded by small shops and, above, the Palais de Justice or Palais Royal. The square is covered with buildings and framed by two streets. On the northern flank, at the bottom, the narrow rue de la Pâtisserie is cited from 1387-1388; later, it was baptized “rue du Petit-Maure and, in 1794, the” rue des Amis “. The widening of its end, which joined the rue du Paradis, was, on a map at least, called the   rue de Rome On the southern slope, above, the extension of rue du Paradis, tortuous ancestor of rue Dacier.

The Royal Palace, threatening to collapse, was deserted by the courts in 1757, and it was destroyed with some neighboring buildings in 1766. In 1880-1883, tear down the first houses in the rue du Paradis, in order to clear the Percée Dacier. In the basements are then cleared beautiful cellars, formed by six spans of tufa vaults arranged in two rows. The very careful construction could go back to the end of the 11C or beginning of the 12C. This tiny space was successively called Place du Marché au Blé   and Place du Minage, and carrefour Royal in the 18C and carrefour Dacier in 1818.  It was decided by the city of Saumur to build a covered market or halles in a medieval style between the new City Hall and the current rue Corneille. Finally, following the bequest of three houses by Madame Rivaud-Partenay, the city completed in 1902 the construction of a new covered market on the site of the old house of Jean Niveleau. The ground floor,overlooking the   current rue du Marché, is occupied by rows of counters; this covered market harmonizes with the other houses on the square, while introducing a note of a somewhat flashy picturesque heavy Belle Epoque decor, cornucopia overflowing with fruit, triumphant rooster perched on its lugs, earthenware plaques to the glory of Saumur, symbolized by an “S”. The halles were destroyed in February 1980, to the complete desolation of the last guards and town folks. The Place Saint-Pierre is rather the seat of religious events.


Some nice buildings we like here are at no. 18 to 36 – Built in a square shape, the new building which replaces the covered market and the two houses to its left closes the square on the side of rue du Marché. It offers more usable space and has parking. Its mirror facade reflecting the Saint-Pierre Church makes you forget the building a little, which is better (we have parked here) At no 12 and 10 – High buildings from the 17C, altered in the following centuries, corresponding to the curved facades of the old rue du Petit-Maure. At no. 6 and 8 – The house forming the angle with the rue de la Tonnelle meets the standard of the years 1770-1820. Further to the right, Auberge Saint-Pierre has a marked overhang; as on the house at no.3 bis, its half-timbering is formed of sophisticated wooden cross-pieces often taking the form of cross of Saint-André, but the beams are little decorated. The timber framing is not an autonomous construction, but it rests on strong stone walls. In 2011, the owner carrying out renovation work in the cellar discovered a treasure consisting of 18 coins struck at the time of kings François I and Henri II, probably a nest egg buried by a resident who fled the city at the start of the Wars of Religion and who has not returned! At no.. 7 and 9 – Very vertical houses, built in the 17C on the site of the Maison du Minage. At no. 15-17 – Large house dating back to the 17C, but only the first floor has kept its original condition.

In between there is a nice bridge. Several names over time from Grand pont de pierre and Pont Neuf, while been built between  1756 to 1770 ; Pont Daniel Trudaine, from a decision of the Assambly of Nobles in 1772 ; Pont de l’Egalité during the French revolution, Grand pont, aka pont de Cessart from a police ordonnance of 1826 ;and as of now Pont Cessart from official proclamation in 1838.  The Pont Cessart bridge has retained its original elegance, although it is half rebuilt. Only stacks 1 and 7 to 11, as well as arches 1 and 8 to 12, were not redone. On the left, the first arch retains the structure put in place by Cessart and by Lecreulx. The Champigny stone blocks have a large module at the bottom and smaller dimensions at the top. At the keystone, on the left, at the level of the current lighting, you will also notice the gargoyle intended to spit out rainwater. During WWII it was badly damaged and the work of restoration finally finished at the end of October 1958.


The nice and old rue de Païens. It was first called  rue des Païans in 1603. Then, from 1794 to 1818 rue de la Justice, because it leads to the Tour Grenetière and the court installed in the current Crèche Chauvet was called rue des Payens. From 1818 it is known as the rue de Païens.

We like this one and some interesting architecture here is at the corner of rue du Puits-Tribouillet and n  2 rue de Païens the Maison Duncan. Two brick turrets resting on strong stone cantilevers framed this mansion, very characteristic of 16C Saumur houses with stately appearance. In the 17C, it was the property of Marc Duncan, a Scottish gentleman, renowned doctor, logician, professor at the Protestant Academy and long principal of the college, author of several works, the most famous being devoted to the possessed of Loudun. This fact is reported by a fairly credible tradition, which was passed on to the Bonnemère family, who became Bonnemère-Targé and who owned the house at the end of the 18C. It was here that Eugène Bonnemère, lawyer, was born in 1813 journalist, follower of spiritualism, author of plays and historical studies.  At the beginning of the 20C, the house housed the printing house of Maurice Chevalier. At no.
4 and 6, 8 and 8 bis – Two large medieval hotels, stretched between the street and the rampart, whose facades on the street were remodeled in the 17-18C. The Bonshommes (monks) of Monnais (a priory located near Jumelles) are installed here. Then appears the Abbé d’Asnières. In 1939-1945, at no. 8, which belongs to the César family, was rented by the city hall to accommodate the passive defense services and, on the first floor, associations for helping prisoners. at no 9 – Still Empire-inspired, this mansion preceded by two pavilions was built in 1838 for Jean-Baptiste Cailleau, mayor of Saumur from 1830 to 1837. At no 13 – Hotel de Vallois. Descendant of Jean Vallois, clerk of the salt measurement in 1571, René Vallois, lord of La Noue, became a lawyer in Parliament and thus gained nobility in the early 18C. The main body of the familial hotel was completed in 1731 and the Vallois put their coat of arms above the entrance.


Montée or rue du fort is one of our favorites to walk!  A narrow, steep path leading from the Carrefour royal, today from Place Saint-Pierre to the western entrance to the Château. Its existence and its route probably go back to the origins of the city, that is to say in the 10C. In its upper part, the road makes a large loop, which allows it to follow a lower slope line. This large loop was also called rue de Bellevue in the second half of the 18C and in the 19C.  Built in its lower part from the 14-15C, the street is in its upper part lined with gardens or sparse houses. The upper part of the Montée du Fort (ascend of the fort), all the buildings and the side of the hill are destroyed from top to bottom, as part of a particularly devastating hillside renovation plan. That without the least preliminary archaeological prospecting, or without even photographic evidence coverage! (history lost). From now on, the climb or rue du Fort abruptly stops on rue des Patenôtriers, first percée Saint-Pierre, located below. The right side of the climb – Remains of an old door giving access to the enclosure of Boile 11-12C, door knocked down at the beginning of the 17C and which, by cross-checking, identifies as the Porte Marcouard gate. Left side of the climb at the corner of Place Saint-Pierre a 16C house, half-timbered over four floors, with a large overhang. Simple frame, well highlighted by the tufa slabs. The following houses, from the 16-17C, are built against the old 14C wall.  At No. 7, the far left, has a wooden frame resting on a beam placed at an angle. At No. 9 is a large house. with a turret integrated into the house and a high perched watchtower.


The rue de Puits Neufs as it is call today was called Puyneuf in 1542 . The well, which was located at the end of rue de la Cocasserie, had probably just been dug at that time. The toponym Puits-Neuf or new well,  indicates at that time an island of houses in the surroundings, and not a particular street . From 1794 to 1818 it was called the rue du Puits-Commun; and from 1818 the rue de Puits-Neuf prevails over the rue de la Laiterie. The pleasant little square is fitted out by the successive destruction of several houses from 1830 to 1913. Some still I like are at no 1-3 – These facades, squared by relief paintings and by the unadorned frames of the bays, characterize the civil residences of the end of the 18C and the beginning of the 19C. The lintel stones corresponding to two seats, these houses can be dated to the beginning of the 19C.


And we arrive at a modern name for a change but still an old street, the Rue Franklin Roosevelt . The narrow rue de l’Ecu or rue de l’Ecu de France extended the rue du Portail-Louis and joined the Place de la Bilange at an angle. Several passages opened to the west, one leading to the chapel of the college of Oratorians installed in the former Auberge de l’Ecu. The other opening into the courtyard of the hôtellerie de l’Ecu de France, which gave its name to this short, unimportant street. The layout of the future Pont Cessart bridge and the large rectilinear gap which will cross the town somewhat groped on the final location of our current Rue Franklin-Roosevelt and  rue d’Orléans.
Another peculiarity of this first section of the old rue d’Orléans: it is, in the city, the only department store district, vast multi-purpose complexes dependent on a national chain, in which entry is free and the price fixed without haggling possible.  In 1910, at no 6, 8 and 10, Arthur Duthoo, founder of the Grand Bazaar of Tours, inaugurated his Nouvelles Galeries, arranged around a large central staircase and resting on self-supporting metal structures, like the Parisian department stores . On the other side of the street, at number 15, was built around 1922 the Palais des Marchands ,hence the initials PM on the balconies, then renamed the Palais du Vêtement (Clothing palace). Astonishing set by its flashy decor and the trompe-l’oeil of the first floor. Conversely, at number 11, the Monoprix, which succeeded the Printemps, has a modern and austere facade. In any case, you are in the department store district.  The location of the former hôtellerie de l’Ecu de Bretagne hotel is retained. The post office was done here because it dominates the new perspective created from the Cessart bridge. It was not completely completed until 1870. The death, on April 12, 1945, of the President of the United States caused great emotion and explained that he was awarded the name of this artery . The new denomination was finalized on Monday, July 21 1947, the first day of the carousel, when Brigadier General Tate, representative of the United States ambassador, came to cut a three-color ribbon at the entrance to the street. Nice


So there you go a nice walk really can be done in a day! we love it and hope you do too unfortunately not into doors lol! Walking the streets of Saumur is going back in history and seeing wonderful beautiful architecture. Not the least great pictures me think…!

The city of Saumur on its heritage and things to see in French: City of Saumur on its heritage and things to see

The tourist office of Saumur on things to see in French: Tourist office of Saumur on things to see

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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