25 April 2024

Eclectic France

Observations on the sites, sounds and events around France

LoireMuseums

Musee Maurice Dufresne

If you like vintage vehicles and farm machinery you’ll love the Musee Maurice Dufresne. It contains around 3000 cars, bicycles, planes, trucks, motorbikes, tractors, agricultural equipment and military machines as well as all sorts of rural and industrial bygones. Maurice Dufresne collected the exhibits from all over France but many were made much further afield.

The museum is just a few kilometres from Chinon and located in a former paper mill. The building is itself an interesting piece of industrial heritage. It has many original features, including the millpond. It’s a pretty setting and very tranquil, with lots of birds and fish. Visitors can probably see other wildlife at quieter times.

Unusual for France

Visitors from the UK will be familiar with the style of the museum. It is similar to many of the farming and industrial museums that have been established there for many years. Nevertheless, the Musee Maurice Dufresne is somewhat unusual in France and there are very few others with anything like the variety on show here.

Vintage vehicles at the Musee Maurice Dufresne
An unusual vintage vehicle at Musee Maurice Dufresne

There are too many unusual exhibits to list them all here. But for car enthusiasts, there is a good selection of interesting and unusual models. Mostly made in France, the USA and the UK, these largely date from the early 1900s to the 1960s. Tractor enthusiasts will not be disappointed either. There are some very unusual French and US-made examples from the 1910s, 20s and 30s.

Unusual Exhibit

Perhaps the most interesting – and macabre – exhibit though is a horse-drawn guillotine, discovered locally by Mr Dufresne. Apparently, this contraption would have travelled from town to town to carry out executions.

Mobile guillotine at the Musee Maurice Dufresne
Mobile guillotine at the Musee Maurice Dufresne

The museum advises three hours for a visit but that might not be long enough for the true vehicle and vintage machinery enthusiast. But it’s probably about right for a casual visitor or a family looking for an interesting morning or afternoon visit. There’s a nice restaurant on site which offers good value simple meals and snacks.