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Troglodytes

For centuries, men cut into the tuff eau and falun (shelly sand) to build houses, châteaux and churches and very soon this underground world became an extraordinary lifestyle. On the plains or in the hillsides, over 1,500 km of galleries, cellars and villages punctuate one of the largest and richest collections of troglodytic sites in Europe. A secret and unusual world inhabited by a culture rooted in the rock.





Between Montsoreau and Gennes, the population quickly took possession of the cliff s of the Loire. Peppered with windows and doors, the cliffs reveal an amazing underground world where farmers, fishers and winemakers have lived together for centuries. More surprisingly, troglodytic sites also dot the plains around Saumur. The area around Doué-en-Anjou was home to the most densely populated underground community in France. These unusual places have also inspired tourism professionals: restaurants, hotels, guest houses and B&B which offer the public originality and charm.

The Faluns Mystery

Troglodytes
The troglodyte cave site of Perrières in Doué-la-Fontaine, known for its monumental dimensions and its pointed Gothic forms, is illuminated and animated by “The Faluns Mystery”. All along an underground scenographic trail, the visitor is transported in the underwater world present in Doué-la-Fontaine 10 millions years ago. Didactic fi lm show, lighting eff ects, iridescent blue walls, fi sh ballet, water mirror, suggestive and fl uctuating music beat… A fabulous trip between land and sea, past and present, dreams and science.
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Village of Rochemenier

Troglodytes
The most comprehensive, troglodytic site of the Loire Valley plains. In the Middle Ages rather than build houses on the surface, peasants dug an open
pit for the yard of their farm. They then kept going, digging the house and outbuildings. At Rochemenier there is a high concentration of galleries and the municipality purchased a section to open to visitors. The museum-site has 20 rooms over 5 acres: two old farms, with dwellings and outbuildings
housing hundreds of tools and authentic furniture, a farmyard with animals and an underground chapel.
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Cave aux Moines Cellars

Troglodytes
The old stone quarry galleries were used from the early 20th century for mushroom cultivation. At the entrance of the cellars you can still see the remains of the stable and rings buried into the tuff eau to attach the animals. You can try oyster, shiitake, button and blue-stem mushrooms, grown on site. There is also a snailbreeding section: information about the reproduction, habitat etc. Taste and buy Loire wines at the end of the visit.
Note: mushrooms and snails can be tried in the on-site restaurant “Les Pieds Bleus”.
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Stone and Light

Troglodytes
“Pierre et Lumière” is the most recent of the miniature parks in Europe. In a dream-like, underground setting the most beautiful churches, towns, villages and châteaux in Anjou and Touraine are carved into the soft tuffeau stone. Each work is homage to the beauty and craft of the builders. The visit presents twenty sites sculpted in the smallest detail, sometimes directly onto the wall by the artist Philippe Cormand. This educational and artistic site ensures all
visitors enjoy a renewed look at the architectural heritage of the Loire Valley.
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Mushroom Museum

Troglodytes
This site is dedicated to the fascinating world of wild and cultivated mushrooms. Through the galleries dug into the tuffeau you can explore the secrets of cultivation in an amazing atmosphere. 12 tons of mushrooms are harvested every year here: button, oyster, shiitake, blue-stem and other
exotic mushrooms. The Museum of wild mushrooms boasts over 500 species from morels to the dreaded panther cap. See also, a collection of objects on the theme of mushrooms. Direct sale of cultivated mushrooms in the shop.
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Living Mushroom Cellars

Troglodytes
Jacky Roulleau, mushroom grower and storyteller, welcomes you into his 16th century troglodytic dwelling where button and wood mushrooms are cultivated. A slideshow and several representations tell the story of the cellar, the geology of tuff eau, marine fossils, troglodytic habitations and local history. Father Jules knows everything about mushrooms, by the end of the visit you will too. He will also offer you wines from the family estate, Le Clos
Saint-Maur to taste. Sale of mushrooms on site.
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Saut-aux-Loups Mushroom Cellars

Troglodytes
The river cliff of the Saut-aux-Loups is a group of 15th century troglodytic dwellings that lead to a maze of tuff eau-quarry galleries, once used for mushroom production. The visit includes surprising “mushroom-like” sculptures, dozens of preserved species of fungi from all over the world and an exhibition of 150 photographs. Direct sale of fresh and tinned mushrooms (soups etc.). In the restaurant, a mushroom-themed menu with the famous “galipettes”, (stuff ed flat mushrooms) baked in a vine-wood bread oven and served in troglodytic rooms, or on the terrace overlooking the Loire.
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Troglodytic Site of Troglo’tap

Troglodytes
You will discover the taste of another time, inside the troglodytic site. During the last century, this cellar on the banks of the Loire was at the centre of production for the famous “Pommes Tapées” apples. The 19th century atmosphere of the visit provides a window into the hard life of our ancestors. The cliff cave dwellings, the museum of “Pommes Tapées” and the tasting of the specialty they produce will leave you with a lasting impression! This activity is unique in France today and has been the subject of several television reports.
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Grande Vignolle

Troglodytes
On the side of the river cliff , a nobleman’s troglodytic manor, with an exceptional 16th century dove-house. On-site, tasting and sale of wines from the Domaine Filliatreau. Temporary exhibitions and seasonal events.
Note: rooms available for receptions.
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Troglos de la Sablière

Troglodytes
Roses accompany the visitor throughout this guided tour of the shelly-sand galleries. Enjoy the rose water distillery, the rose cellar, a fossil collection and
the old troglodytic café, dug by hand by Monsieur Grégoire. These galleries are also a place of artistic expression with new sculptures added every year.
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Troglodytes & Sarcophagi

Troglodytes
The site is a fascinating glimpse into the history of troglodytes in the Merovingian period. Archaeological excavations have revealed this unique site in Europe, now listed as a Historic Monument. Shelly-sand walls still vibrate to the quarrying of thousands of coffins, an industry documented from the 6th century. The sarcophagi were produced here and then transported mainly by water, some as far as England! Note: underground shelters, chapel, farm and wine cellar, all witnesses to the world of troglodytes of the plains. One of the most complete sites from the medieval period.
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Sculpture Cave

Troglodytes
Hundreds of fi gures carved into the walls of the underground cellar, entangled in a gigantic, carved, graphic drama. An earthy, baroque dance from the late 16th or early 17th centuries. An archaeological enigma but a masterpiece of folk art.
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Troglodytic Houses of Forges

Troglodytes
Inhabited troglodytic dwellings with farm outbuildings for the animals. All the houses are dug into the rock, only the chimney pots rise above ground. A ‘subtractive’ architecture that illustrates the close link between farmers and their land.
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Hélice Terrestre (Earth Helix)

Troglodytes
A vast and surprising sculpture, born from the encounter of the artist Jacques Warminski with the world of troglodytes. It is a composition of two simultaneous spaces: one entirely excavated into the rock, the other shaped and moulded in the open. The tour is a unique experience as the visitor moves in and around the work itself.
Note: the Hélice Terrestre also holds exhibitions and concerts.
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Manor of the Caillère

Troglodytes
Richard Rak chose the exceptional setting of this troglodytic house as a place to live and create. The artist receives you personally and guides you through a maze of tunnels dug into the tuff eau, where his works are born and live in serenity in this mineral world. Unusual and timeless. Note: Richard Rak also exhibits in his studio gallery, rue Saint-Jean in Saumur.
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And also

Underground passages of the Château of Brézé: In the Middle Ages, the lords of Brézé lived in fortifi ed dwelling caves called “roche”. This underground network was a combination of daily living rooms and a system of defence.

Biopark in Doué-la-Fontaine: Set in former shelly-sand quarries, the Biopark in Doué-la-fontaine is the only troglodytic zoo in the world. It off ers to animals and visitors alike an exceptional setting, combining a mineral scenery with luxuriant vegetation.

The “troglos” of the Arts and Crafts village in Turquant: The rehabilitation of the hillside troglodytes in Turquant have permitted the creation of an Arts and Crafts village. Workshops and craft shops have brought this exceptional heritage back to life.

“Troglo” restaurants and accommodation:
Many are the enthusiasts who have brought the troglodyte heritage back to life by opening restaurants, gîtes, guest houses, hotels, etc. A good way to share with their guests a special style of living.

The troglodytique pigeon house in Dénezé-sous-Doué: You are free to walk around this site, known as the “Niverdière” and see the magnifi cent underground pigeon house. It has 1,800 post holes and goes from a square to an octagonal plan.

Wine cellars: In the Saumur area, the former stone quarry galleries off er an ideal setting for maturing and preserving wine. Millions of bottles therefore mature in the shade of the limestone caves.




Emilie Arribas

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