Milestones: The cadets of Saumur

In Saumur, there’s a marvellous tank museum—le Musee des Blindes, as it’s called in French—and I was there not so long ago.

The tanks date from World War I up to modern times. There’s a WWII Panther and a King Tiger and this Panzer Mark II.  The Mark IIs did stalwart service during the 1940 Blitzkrieg.

One of the gems of local history concerns the cavalry school based in Saumur (there was no museum then, of course) and tells of how the young cadets held the bridges across the Loire in the face of the modern tanks and artillery of the advancing Germans. It happened on 19–20 June 1940, seventy-two years ago today.

After I spent the morning at the museum—immersed in history, and tanks, and meeting a few kindred spirits as obsessed as I—it was time to slip back a few centuries and take in the town’s second big attraction, the Chateau de Saumur. The chateau is responsible for an excellent Cabernet Sauvignon; light and fruity, very much to my taste. That’s me, among the vines.

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