Le Chardon Gite
Le Chardon

Troglodyte Caves in the Loire

A perfect French Gite in the heart of the Loire

Within the region there are over 600 miles of subterranean tunnels, many of which were hewn out to provide the tuffeau stone to build the churches and chateaux of the area.

Also, many of the inhabitants lived underground, together with their animals, and in houses carved out of the side of the hillside. This was both practical and provided safety, especially during times of war such as the Vendee wars which spilled into this area and were particularly brutal.

You can find cave dwellings at La Fosse near to Doué la Fontaine and also the village of Rochemenier, also near to Doué la Fontaine, the most complete troglodyte site in the Loire Valley, where two ancient farms and a chapel take up one hectare of underground space with a total of 20 rooms in total. www.troglodyte.info

Another site in Doué-la Fontaine include the magnificent sarcophagus quarries which are the largest underground quarries in Europe and date back to the 5th. century. The site is now been designated a historic monument. www.troglo-sarcophages.fr

Also in Doué la Fontaine there are subterranean rooms with an impressive height of 15 to 20 metres. The site is also used for musical concerts. perrieres@ville-douelafontaine.fr

There are also a selection of troglodyte restaurants which provide a different setting in which to enjoy the local cuisine. More in the Indulge section.

Interestingly at Brezé, a 10 minutes drive away, there is a subterranean chateau, which sits literally below the present chateau and was only recently discovered. www.chateaudebreze.com


Cave Vivante du Champignon –Sanziers

This is a five minute drive from the house and is a subterranean adventure which gives a retrospective look at the exploitation of the tuffeau stone in years gone by and how mushrooms were, and still are, grown in the old mining caves – all presented with humour and in English also by Jacky Roulleau, the owner.

There is also a wine cave where wine can be tasted and purchased. http://troglo.champi.free.fr


Pierre et Lumiére – Saumur

This is the first underground miniature park .Here you can discover the Loire Valley jewels in miniature, all carved in minute detail from from 100 tonnes of tuffeau stone www.pierre-et-lumiere.com


Musée du Champignon – Saumur

This is a production site open to visitors. Stroll through the mushroom beds and discover the secrets of various types of mushroom. Also available for purchase. www.musee-du-champignon.com


Musée de la pomme tapee – Turquant , Saumur

This cave used to be an important production place for the ‘Pommes tapées’ (flattened apples) during the 19th.century but completely died out at the beginning of the First World War. Beatrice and Francois are now the only ones who carry on this craft. You can also taste this mysterious delicacy. http://pros.orange.fr/troglo.tap


As can be expected, the tunnels and caves also make ideal cellars for storing wine, being dark and providing an ideal ambient temperature (12-14 degrees) for wines to mature and rest in. More about wines, wine tasting etc. can be found in our ‘Indulge’ section.



Le Chardon