Chateau de Saumur
Always fun and sparkling – just like its wine – the town of Saumur really comes into its own in winter with cosy riverside eateries, wine tastings, Christmas markets and irresistibly rich cuisine that is the perfect cold weather comfort food. Terrines made from the wild fish of the Loire are sensational on toasted bread, as is the local foie gras. Black Touraine truffles ramp up the sensual factor of the food; these and the famous white ‘champignons de Paris’ grown in Saumur’s vast mushroom caves, making earthy delicious use of the tunnels left behind by the quarrying of the famous white ‘tufa’ limestone that built nearly all the Loire chateau. The chateau itself is set high up on the cliff overlooking the whole town in a thoroughly look-at-me manner; in winter, smoking chimneys and slender, glistening turrets appear through the mist and then, as the morning fog burns off, the 13th century chateau is revealed in all its gem-like glory, only a few minutes’ walk from the town centre.