Troglodyte sites: journey to the centre of the stone
As you drive along the roads of Touraine, chances are you’ll spot the famous troglodytes caves, carved out of the hillsides to extract the tufa stone for building the Loire Valley châteaux and houses. Guest houses, tourist sites, cellars and restaurants… here are a few great places to experience this world.
A weekend in a troglodyte house
For a more unusual romantic getaway, several gites and guest houses offer the experience of sleeping in original troglodyte surroundings. From Troglododo in Azay-le-Rideau to the Sentinières du Vallon (Vouvray) and Les troglos de Beaulieu or Amboise Troglodyte, you’re sure to find your little corner of paradise for one night or more! Other great places are Bagatelle, Le Nid, La Falotière, La Rochelière and the Gaietté de Roche Faucon.
Also note that the Domaine des Hautes Roches, in Rochecorbon, was the first luxury troglodyte hotel in France and that there’s a great surprise hiding underneath the Hôtel Choiseul, in Amboise: Caesar’s Granaries, tunnels which were used as a barn for collecting the grain levied as a tithe, before the Revolution.
The troglodyte cellars: wines aged gracefully!
There are plenty of wonderful wine cellars to discover around Chinon, such as the the Panzoult tourist wine cellar, the Monplaisir cellar and the Plouzeau cellar. A little further on is the splendid Rabelais Museum underneath which lies a truly gargantuan former quarry!
Beyond Chinon, there are plenty of underground landmarks on the Touraine wine route on the way through the vineyards of :
- Vouvray: Grandes Caves Saint-Roch-Blanc Foussy, the Vouvray wine cellar, Bourillon Dorléans, Château Moncontour, Vigneau-Chevreau, the Domaine de la Châtaigneraie, etc.
- Montlouis-sur-Loire: Montlouis-sur-Loire wine producers’ cellar, La Croix Mélier Estate, etc.
- Bourgueil and Saint-Nicolas de Bourgueil: La Jarnoterie, David Drussé, Domaine de la Chevalerie, Lamé Delisle Boucard, etc.
Heritage to explore
There are several fascinating attractions to visit around Azay-le-Rideau in the Loire Valley, including the Goupillières troglodyte valley and the petrifying grottoes of Savonnières. Oddly enough, a tour of the basket weaving village of Villaines-les-Rochers (home to the wicker – basket-weaving cultural centre) and the Poires tapées à l’ancienne centre will show you the interaction between the troglodyte caves and the local handcrafted specialities – wicker products and dried fruit.
If you like cycling, the ‘Les troglos de Courtineau’ cycling loop near Sainte-Maure-de-Touraine will lead you through a large number of troglodyte dwellings, including a chapel carved into the rock: Notre-Dame-de-Lorette. Last but not least, the former tufa stone quarry at Vignemont towards Loches are open to visitors.