Saumur: unusual museums!
Incredible armoured vehicles, a genuine Ariane rocket engine, the jacket of general De Lattre de Tassigny, mushrooms from all four corners of the world, and more! Explore the astonishing collections on display in the museums of Saumur.
Musée du Moteur (Engine Museum)
The only one of its kind in France, this museum housed in the magnificent Baltard pavilion hosts an impressive collection of engines of all types. This include such amazing pieces as the imposing Viking, designed to equip the Ariane IV rocket and guzzling 350 litres of fuel per second, or the Dion-Bouton model from 1897, one of the very first petrol engines. Also on show is a curiosity powered by hot air, a 23-tonne, 3.5-metre-high cathedral engine, or the double turbo with which Jean-Pierre Jabouille won the first F1 with Renault.
Musée de la cavalerie (Cavalry Museum)
Watch out for your eyes! This place, whose wooden display cases retrace the history of French cavalry from the 15th century to today, houses some real gems. These include the jacket and kepi worn by general De Lattre de Tassigny when signing the German surrender on 8 May 1945 in Berlin! Be sure to seek out the uniform of the general of the Empire who charged at Waterloo, a remarkable collection of Restoration-era weapons or the bashed up body armour of colonel De Lacarre, whose head was blown off by a cannonball during the Reischoffen offensive.
Musée des Blindés
Set out over 17,000 m2 in the walls of the old factory, this structure houses 800 tanks and armoured vehicles from 17 countries. 200 are on display to the public, almost half of which are still in working order. An example is the imposing 70-tonne German Royal Tiger, used in the Second World War. There are also two First World War tanks to look at, as well as a FT17 from Afghanistan, the astonishing Léonce Vieljeu tank, built in 1944 by resistance fighters, or this suitcase-car that could be air-dropped.
Musée des champignons
What better place than a mushroom farm to host this museum? It takes visitors on a subterranean tour interspersed with spaces that reproduce actual production conditions, in particular. A room presents "tuffeau" rock quarrying techniques, the laboratory shines a light on the production of mycelium and compost, button mushrooms, pied bleus, shiitake, oyster mushrooms and amazing reishi mushrooms grow in various dens, and the museum section presents hundreds of species. The troglodyte house and its motley collection of mushroom-shaped objects is also a must-visit!