We descend into the bowels of a castle
At Brézé, one château can hide another! Who would have guessed that this monument is home to a troglodytic network of almost 4 kilometres of underground galleries and chambers? A veritable castle beneath the castle, dug to a depth of 9 m, with everything in place to resist the invaders. There are stables, a kitchen, skylights and an underground bakery with a bread oven that is still in use, as well as one of the largest wine presses in France, testimony to the château's winemaking activity.
We're eating our way through a mushroom farm
At this quarry in Montsoreau, the extraction of tuffeau - the limestone used in the construction of the Loire châteaux - has been replaced by mushroom cultivation. The old galleries, dug into the hillside and overlooking the Loire, are now home to a fun and educational tour of the site's mining past and its mushroom farm. It's a great way to learn all about the cultivation of button mushrooms, oyster mushrooms, pholiotes and shiitakes, which you can sample before or after your visit to the Saut aux Loups restaurant. Filled with rillettes, andouille sausage, salmon, snails or goat's cheese and baked in the oven, they are transformed into 'galipettes', one of the local specialities.
Turquant is the place to be
Let yourself be seduced by this small village in the Saumur region, carved out of the rock between mills and vineyards. A signposted discovery trail takes you back in time to discover the troglodyte way of life. Here you can learn about the history of "pommes tapées", a Saumur speciality that was revived in the 1980s. After a day full of discoveries, pack your bags and head for one of the troglodytic rooms at Demeure de la Vignole, whose rock-cut swimming pool promises a well-deserved moment of relaxation!
Unlocking the Mystery of the Faluns
10 million years ago, the people of Doué-la-Fontaine had their feet in water. But not just any water: that of the sea, which when it receded left the falun, a limestone rock that was mined in the 19th century. You can discover this maritime and mining past in the old quarries on the Perrières site with the Mystery of the Falun, an enchanting scenography combining science and poetry. In these subterranean cathedrals 15 to 20 metres high, you'll be surrounded by sharks, sea urchins, manta rays and other jellyfish. A magical experience!
A feast of fouées
Do you know what fouées are? Also known as fouaces, these round or square loaves baked in a wood-fired oven were the troglodytes' meal. You can eat them in troglodyte restaurants in and around Saumur. Served hot, just out of the oven, they are garnished with rillettes, goat's cheese or mushrooms. A convivial, gourmet experience in an original setting.
We visit a troglo zoo
Rhinoceroses, birds, okapis, leopards... In all, almost 1,200 animals inhabit this zoo, which is unique in the world because it is dug into the rock and dedicated to the protection of endangered species. As you make your way through the galleries, tunnels and quarries, you pass from one world to another, each ecosystem represented in its own space.