The Tank Museum in Saumur (French: Le Musée des Blindés) is one of the world’s leading museums of the armored weapons and equipment, and is also included in the best military history museums in France. The museum is located in the historical region – the Loire Valley region, where castles and various ancient buildings are located, which in themselves are the sights of France.
History of the tank museum in Saumur.
The Loire, the river and the valley have a special place in the history of France. A natural fortified area, behind which the French army retreated and the area known to the whole world as the “Loire Valley” and “Loire Castles”. Well, where there are castles, there are kings. Where kings are, there are his guards, that is, the army. Where the army is, there is the entire infrastructure, including barracks, training schools, shooting ranges.
Saumur is a city on the Loire, known since the 16th century as a center for horseback riding. It was here that the Cavalry School was founded. In the 20th century, after the First World War, cavalry units began to be replaced by “iron horses”. During the First World War, France was the world leader in the production of tanks and armored vehicles. In the 30s, Saumur also became a training center, where they began to train officers for tank troops, although the name (“Ecole de cavalerie”) has survived to this day.
The “traditions” of creating almost all armored museums in the world are the same – the “collection” is collected for study. Driving performance studies. Study of individual elements. Studying how, from what distance and how it can be hit. So the “tank museum” in Kubinka was founded. Thus was founded the tank museum in Saumur. At the end of the Second World War in Saumur (Saumur), where the military unit was located, German tanks were collected, which remained on the battlefields. After restoration and repair, they were studied by French military engineers. These machines laid the foundation for the “collection”, which appeared thanks to the perseverance and enthusiasm of Colonel Aubry.
Tank Museum: In 1965, the French Ministry of Defense created the “Armored Vehicle Documentation Center” (Centre de Documentation des Engins Blindes – CDEB) in Saumur, which is considered the founding day of the tank museum in Saumur. Now the museum has more than 850 vehicles and armored vehicles, a third of them are on the move. 200 exhibits make up the permanent exhibition. The museum includes a team of specialists and a technical infrastructure that allows you to successfully carry out any repair and restoration work with armored vehicles.
Like in the USSR at Kubinka testing area, in addition to captured German tanks, the collection was replenished with vehicles removed from service with the French army, armored vehicles of the allies in the anti-Hitler coalition (USA-Britain), gifts from weapons manufacturers, as well as through exchange with other museums. There were other ways: at least a pair of Soviet T-54s and one PT-76 came to the museum from Iraq, captured after the first Gulf War. And “Shilka” got into the collection from the army of the former GDR.
The management of the museum, based on auto-armored vehicles, makes whole corners of “living history”, with mannequins and special expositions. There is also a whole corner of the “Battle of Stalingrad” with a rare Soviet heavy tank KV-1. True, the tank has its own special history, and the signs in the exposition are more reminiscent of the battle in Hungary or the Liberation of Yugoslavia. In the center is a portrait of Stalin.
The museum collection is constantly updated. Every year, Saumur hosts Carousel – a demonstration of old armored vehicles in action at the training ground of the Cavalry School. The current exhibits of the museum regularly take part in historical holidays and filming.
Restoration hangars are large and spacious, which makes it possible to work on many exhibits at the same time. In addition to the museum staff, 42 volunteers are involved in the restoration of equipment (for 2016). At the moment, work is underway on equipment, including tanks, cars, self-propelled guns of various historical periods and countries. Among them there are also unique samples.
Guide, map, where everything is:
Description of where everything is located, the order of the tour. The collection of the tank museum is located in the following halls and consists of the following expositions:
The First World War and the rarest tanks of the First World.
– Battle of the Somme (Somme) first use of tanks
– Battle of Cambrai, a large tank battle
– legendary tank Renault FT-17
– Victory Parade in Paris
Paris. Victory Parade in France, a column of French tanks of the First World War Renault FT-17 passes through Paris, along the Champs Elysees near the Arc de Triomphe. July 14, 1919.
These French tanks are the first tanks in the usual layout, when the rotating turret is on top, and not like in the English “rhombuses” on the side. Tanks of this model participated in the First World War, as well as in the civil war on the territory of Russia, both in the European part and in the Far East.
The Second World War battles vehicles
– Hall “Heroic Defense of France” 1940
– Nazi Germany, Third Reich: tanks and self-propelled gun Catalog and photos
– Resistance movement. “Fighting France” World War II. Partisans, the underground.
– Italy:”Fascist – an ally of Germany and post-war
– Armies of the “allies” of the Second World War, where there is a section of the USSR.
“Cold War” and “Fighting France”
– Post-war France, overview and exposition of the museum
– Post-war French tank AMX-13
– “Fighting France” – wars in Indochina, local conflicts
– Armored vehicles of the USSR and the countries of the “Warsaw Pact”, “Arab brothers”
– Hall of engines (tank engines) and training simulators
Cold War Soviet uniforms and insignias
A collection of Soviet uniforms donated by Mikhail Blinov (Tour Guide author) to the tank museum. Partly on display, partly in reserve fund.
“Great people” – famous military leaders, generals, marshals
– “Gallery of Military Glory”. Women in the war…
“Modern World” – tanks, armored vehicles of NATO and other armies of the world during the Cold War period and are in service now.
Local wars and military conflicts, peacekeeping operations:
– Indochina and the Vietnam War
– Post-war wars and operations of France in Africa, list
– War in Angola (1975-2002)
– Republic of the Congo. History and armored vehicles
– Riot in Katanga (Congo) in 1977
– Congo (Zaire). Second Battle of Shaba in 1978 and Panhard armored cars
The museum has more than 850 AV’s, a third of them are in the work condition. There are more than 200 exhibits in the permanent exhibition. The museum has a team of specialists and technical infrastructure to successfully carry out any repair and restoration work with armored vehicles.
Restoration of the old military equipment and weapons
The Saumur tank museum has several hangars where military equipment is restored and stored – tanks, cars, including those from the period of the Second World War. The number of exhibits in these hangars is commensurate with the amount of equipment in the permanent exhibition. Some tanks, armored personnel carriers and cars are shown on certain dates in motion, on the go. Restoration of equipment is carried out by museum staff and volunteers – a team of volunteers (more than 40 people)
One of the halls is very large and spacious.
Museum opening hours:
January February March April. Monday-Friday 10am-5pm, Saturday-Sunday, Holidays 11am-6pm
May June. Every day from 10 to 18
July-August. Every day from 9.30 to 18.30
September — from 10 to 18
October, November, December. Monday-Friday 10am-5pm, Saturday-Sunday, Holidays 11am-6pm
Duration of the tour (by yourself) – 1.5 – 2 hours, an hour before closing, the entrance of visitors stops.
Ticket price – 7.5 Euro (adult), photo and video permission – 5 Euro