I don’t have very many photo’s from this trip to France but am saving what there is! This is April 1992 and I was offered the chance to go with some work colleagues Sharon, her chap Chris, and Phil. Sharon’s or Chris’s parents owned a cottage in La Breille-les-pins and that’s where we were based. Ben came with us too.
It hadn’t been used for a while and with stone floors was bloody freezing!
Sharon & Chris
Phil, Ben & I went off to visit Tours and sat by the River Loire one day,,
And then the next day we went off to visit Le Musee de Blindes (Museum of Tanks) in Saumur which was at the Cavalry Barracks.
The Musée des Blindés is now one of the world’s largest tank museums. It began in 1977 under the leadership of Colonel Michel Aubry, who convinced both the French military hierarchy and the local political authorities. Started 35 years ago with only a few hundred tracked vehicles, it has become a world-class collection which attracts visitors interested in the history of multinational tank development as well as professional armor specialists. From the very beginning, Colonel Aubry had made it a key policy of the museum to restore to running condition as many historically or technically significant vehicles as was feasible.
The museum has the world’s largest collection of armoured fighting vehicles and contains well over 880 vehicles. Because of shortage of space, less than a quarter can be exhibited, despite the move to a much larger building in 1993. Over 200 of the vehicles are fully functional, including the only surviving German Tiger II tank still in full working order. It often performs in the spectacular armor demonstration for the public, called the Carrousel, which takes place in the summer every year. Saumur was the traditional training center for cavalry for over a century but now holds the current Armoured Cavalry Branch Training School which is entirely dedicated to training armor specialists. The tank museum had its early origins in a study collection.
When we got to the barracks and went into the museum there were no tanks, so I asked the lady at the entrance and she told us they were all held in a larger building (now the current museum). She then took us over to the barracks and in to see Colonel Aubry, who was so lovely and kind, and gave us all a tank badge. He then had his secretary drive us over to the tank place where they were just about to close. She told the soldier on duty that Colonel Aubry said to hold it open for us while we looked at tanks! Don’t think he was all that pleased. Anyway we got to see The Tiger II and a few others, and went home very happy!