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Troglodytes in the Loire Valley

As you explore the Loire Valley you cannot fail to notice the abundance of dwellings dug into the slopes and rock faces of the landscape. These are referred to as troglodytes and are the results of the local people’s desire to use their environment to its full potential. The stone that these dwellings are cut from is soft, manageable and easy to work, so they had the double benefit of selling the quarried stone while creating a living space for their families. The troglodytes have the advantage of staying at a fairly constant 12 degrees centigrade thus making them a good all year round habitat that provided heat in winter and cool in summer as well as good protection from the elements. The nearest to Barrou are the troglodytes at St.Remy-sur-Cruise (photo above). Drive through La Guerche (admire the chateau by the river) onto the D5 and head through Leugny in the direction of Descartes and you will find them on your left as you enter the village.

 

 Other fine examples of inhabited troglodytes are to be found overlooking the Loire, between Saumur and Montsoreau.

      

Less obvious are the troglodytes that are cut out of plains and the only indication of their presence is the odd chimney top peeking through the ground! These were more likely dug as a means of protection and as a place of concealment from any potential invaders plus in times of hardship and shortages they offered a good alternative, easily sustained habitat.

A very good example of this is the Troglodyte village of Rochemenier which is in the commune of Louresse-Rochemenier 24km west of Saumur and 6 km NW of Doue-la-Fontaine, just of the D761. Part of the troglodyte village has been retained as a museum to a way of life that was still in existence in the 1930’s. You are presented with a plan which leads you through the twenty rooms of the village consisting of two ancient farms with out-buildings and houses plus a spectacular underground chapel carved out of the rock. As you reflect on how it must have been to live in these small dwellings you are shown a modernised room that you could survive relatively comfortably in today.

The impression given however is that the village’s inhabitants must have been really ‘close’ to have lived in such a tight knit community.

 

This is a good place to take children as apart from the historical interest they’ll love exploring the caves --- oh and by the way—“MIND YOUR HEAD!”

 

 The village is open April 1st – November 1st  (9.30am-7.00pm)

November, February and March : Saturday, Sunday and local public holidays from (2.00pm-6.00pm)

Original source of information : experienceloire.com/troglodytes.htm

 

 

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