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Continuing with our visit of Saumur … on the theme of military transportation, from live horses to their modern mechanical replacements …

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After touring the National Riding School (Ecole nationale d’Equitation), we quickly drove over to the Musée des Blindés (Armoured Vehicle Museum). Unfortunately, it was late in the afternoon and the museum was closing. So we looked around the museum shop and I resorted to taking pictures of the tanks that were parked outside.

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Saumur was the traditional training center for the French cavalry for over a century (hence, the National Riding School). It now holds the current Armoured Cavalry Branch Training School which is entirely dedicated to train armor specialists.

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See our post here on the National Riding School.

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The Musée des Blindés has its early origins in a study collection for the school. It is still a French state institution funded by the Army.

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The museum was also named after General Jean Baptiste Eugène Estienne, the creator of the French tank arm.

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The Musée des Blindés has the world’s largest collection of armoured fighting vehicles and contains well over 880 vehicles (not limited to tanks), although the British Bovington Tank Museum has a larger number of tanks.

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Because of shortage of space, less than a quarter can be exhibited.

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Over 200 of the vehicles are fully functional, and obviously the ones shown here are not likely in working condition.

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Surprisingly, the rust on many of these tanks make them look more real than those that are newer and look like toy models. Compared above and below.

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Didn’t know the United Nations have tanks.

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Apparently there are 11 sections in the museum starting from early pieces used in World War I and up to ones that were captured during the Gulf war. One could probably spend a whole day inside.

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The museum’s official web site is here.

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It is a bit disturbing to see so many war machines and destructive power on display.

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