I had originally reserved a room for two nights in another hotel (see my review on the Hotel Le Volney), but upon arrival had discovered that the owner had not taken the reservation correctly after all. He found me a room at the Auberge des Écuyers in compensation, assuring me I would like the place. I actually preferred it to the Volney as the room was better and the inn closer to everything, including the train station.
The Auberge des Écuyers combines both a restaurant and a small hotel (about 5 rooms recently renovated) and is situated about 1.5 km from the train station across the Loire River. I was requested to come to the inn at either 11:30 a.m. or around 5 p.m, before the restaurant opened for business for meal times. I was greeted nicely but a bit impersonally and shown to my room on the 1st floor at the back of the inn. There were two keys, one for my room and one for the side door to be used for all clients (to avoid going through the restaurant). I was told about their friendly little dog and to be careful not to let him out when I used that side door. The room was nice and clean, with the usual sink in the corner. The furniture actually matched, a rare occurrence in hotels of that category. The double bed later proved to be comfortable. The shower was beside my room and the bathroom a little bit further down the hallway. When I took a shower that night, the hot water took a couple of minutes to arrive but there was plenty. While a towel was provided, no shampoo or soap was. A few hangers were dangling from a hook in a corner and acted as a closet. There was a ceiling fan in case of hot weather. Cost for the room: 34 euros, without breakfast.
At the time of my visit, the inn was empty of other customers. The place is owned by a young couple who take in lodgers during the summer months when they can get extra help. The restaurant however remains their main concern. I did hear them washing dishes until 11 p.m. and starting things up around 7 a.m. the next day. I was not disturbed by the noise from the street. Although St-Nicholas. is a commercial street, the inn is located in a quieter area with no bars close by.
Travelling tips (more with my review of the Hotel le Volney)
Internet: in the Bar St-Nicholas, on the same street as the hotel. Free use of the one and only computer when you buy a drink. A glass of local white wine: 2 euros.
G-20: Supermarket at 6 Roosevelt St., near the Place de la Bilange.
Crêperie La Quichenotte: Place St-Pierre. Nice little restaurant with friendly service and very good French pancakes. Salad, leek and cheese pancake, dessert, ¼ liter white wine for 16 euros.
Abbaye de Fontevraud: check at the tourist bureau for the bus schedule. At some hours, you must reserve a seat by calling ahead. I went on the regular bus (no reservation necessary) early in the afternoon (bus stop on Roosevelt St, across the bakery La Duchesse Anne). The ride took 30 minutes and the bus dropped me right in front of the abbey. To return, I waited in front of the church and at the right time, a mini-bus showed up. The driver had a list of expected passengers and knew where to drop them off, thanks to the reservation system.
Dolmen de Bagneux: 2 km from center of town. Cost: 3.50 euros. Short visit but worth seeing if you are interested in history. Over 2,000 years old.
École nationale d’équitation: 5 km from center of town. A bus can drop you off after the first 2 km and you can walk the rest in the countryside. A bike or a car would be better alternatives however. Check the website for visits to the stables and list of shows and demonstrations. You can reserve your seat for the shows with a credit card (and receive your tickets by mail within a few days) or buy them at the tourist bureau in Saumur. Reservations recommended in the summer. Cost: 16 euros/adult.
Caves Louis de Grenelle: I went in the morning and there were no visits of the cellars at that time. It is therefore recommended to go mid-afternoon when there is enough people to form a group. Good products. Nice little shop. Coupon for free tasting/visit in a passport available in some hotels (and probably the tourist bureau).