• Photo: BMJ / Shutterstock

Saumur

You'll find putting up with the locals’ legendary snobisme well worth it once you get a gander at Saumur's centre historique, a camera-ready quarter studded with elegant 19th-century town houses and anchored by the vast 12th-century church of St-Pierre. Looming over it all is an equally photogenic riverside castle, the Château de Saumur. Architecture aside, this town (one of the largest along the Loire) is known for agriculture—in particular a flourishing mushroom industry, which produces 100,000 tons per year. The same cool tunnels in which the mushrooms grow provide an ideal storage place for the local mousseux (sparkling wines); many of the vineyards hereabouts are open for public tours.

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