Tasked with perpetuating French equestrian tradition, the Cadre Noir is one of the world’s most prestigious riding schools. Elite equerries and the greatest equestrian athletes are trained here every day to maintain an art that is listed as UNESCO World Heritage. Venture into this fascinating world and watch demonstrations that will guarantee plenty of thrills. From the stables to the saddlery and grand arena, the Cadre Noir will take you behind the scenes of the world of equestrian art.
A major site of intangible cultural heritage, the Cadre Noir has been upholding French horse riding tradition for nearly two centuries. Horses were once dedicated to cavalry, but acquired a new level of prestige with the art of dressage. Complicity between rider and animal is at the heart of the Cadre Noir.

The equestrian tradition perpetuated in the Cadre Noir is an ancestral art that has been built up over the course of several centuries. For a long time, horses were considered a means of transport, hunting companions and aides on the battlefield. It was not until the Renaissance that they were attributed with ceremonial functions linked with courtly customs and shows that stunned audiences with the first school jumps. Dressage became an art in its own right, used both for military and royal purposes. The Cavalry school in Saumur first came into being in the 16th century under the leadership of Philippe Duplessis-Mornay, who founded an Equestrian academy in the Protestant University. It certainly left its mark on equestrian history in the city!

The 18th century saw a complete reorganisation of the art of cavalry, when Louis XV entrusted the Duke of Choiseul with the creation of “The finest School in the world”. But none of this remained after the French Revolution and the Napoleonic wars, when the French cavalry was decimated. Louis XVIII decided to create a “School for horseback troops” destined to form an elite corps for training military horses. In 1825, Charles X renamed it the Royal School of Cavalry and it was later given the name of Cadre Noir, in accordance with the colour of the traditional equerry attire. The training principles evolved over time until the 20th century, when cavalry turned its attention to machines, favouring armoured vehicles and leaving horses out of military affairs. Meanwhile, equestrian sports started to develop and in 1972 the School of Cavalry in Saumur incorporated the National Equestrian School. Ever since, the “Equerries of the Cadre Noir of Saumur” have been top-level trainers for equestrian sports disciplines in France. The National Equestrian School merged with the Haras Nationaux in 2010 to form the French Institute of Horses and Horse Riding (IFCE). A year later, “Equitation in the French tradition” was recognised as intangible cultural heritage of humanity by UNESCO
Not to be missed

Behind the scenes in the Cadre Noir

The Cadre Noir is a prestigious school whose mission is to transmit its exceptional skills and knowledge. It also opens its doors to the general public, enabling them to discover its work and passion through visits and demonstrations.
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Hidden treasure

The world of athletes

Like all top-level athletes, the horses at the Cadre Noir are well looked after and receive the best treatment. Private veterinary surgeons, made-to-measure shoes and adapted attire… it’s not bad being a horse at Saumur!
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Grand Masters of the Cadre Noir

The equestrian traditions taught in the Cadre Noir have been nurtured by great masters who all sought to improve the art of dressage.
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News from the château
Practical information


Avenue de l'École Nationale d'Équitation
49400, SAUMUR
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Qualité Tourisme
Things to see in the area
How to get there
The Cadre Noir is 8km from Saumur train station, and a bus service connects the two destinations. Saumur is 2 hours 20 minutes by train from Paris-Montparnasse train station via Tours or Angers, where a local train line provides connections to Saumur.
By road, the Cadre Noir is 3 hours from Paris and 4 hours from Bordeaux.

Your journey