WARNING! This page contains blokey military stuff.
Ever stumbled upon something and thought “why haven’t I heard about this before now”? Well, this was the case with the town of Saumur, about an hour’s train ride east of here. The town is famous for it’s riding school and the shows that the school puts on for the public. Like many towns in the Loire Valley, it has a long history dating back hundreds of years, a big castle, and it was the scene of fierce fighting during the German invasion of the second world war. But the big surprise for me was the Tank Museum! Yes, an entire museum dedicated to tanks and armoured vehicles. In fact, there are over 100 on display dating from the first world war up to late 20th century. There’s almost every model of tank the Germans made for WWII, Soviet tanks which include a T72 used in Afghanistan and even an Israeli Merkava. There is even a section of the Berlin wall, donated by the city of Berlin.
Walking in to the displays in like entering a Smolski brothers wet dream. Most of the vehicles are in working order, complete with trademark oil leaks. There is a restoration team on site who take care of the acquired vehicles and restore them to working order, or if they’re too far gone, at least get them to a state where they look authentic on display. I took over a hundred photos and had to keep picking my jaw up off the ground. Tanks and armoured vehicles I had made models of as a kid were standing before me for real. It was awesome! The only downside is that most of the displays are look but don’t touch. This, combined with the design of the majority of them, means you couldn’t even look inside. No worries, it was still great to be there.
Outside there were yet more tanks waiting for restoration. The museum also does re-enactments for the public using the working tanks. That would be something to see.
I’ve put some of the photos up here. Please forgive the grainy appearance of some of them. I’m experimenting with shooting in RAW format and it’s taking a bit of tweaking to get the camera settings right. There are a lot to get through so grab a brew and hook in!