This is an extraordinary destination to live as a couple or family at about 3 hours from Paris by car. The change of scenery is guaranteed thanks to the many cave dwellings of the area, its castles and vineyards. Whether you are fond of history, gastronomy, animals or unusual places, this region will suit you.
We started our visit by the nearest point from Paris, the troglodyte village of Rochemenier which is located 24 km from Saumur and where you can visit two old farmhouses dug in the rock of falun. This rock dates from the times when the sea was covering the whole area. You can see some shells in that rock that proves its marine origin.
You can discover the life of these farmers and this incredible site inhabited since the Medieval Times until the twentieth century. The guided (and free) 30 mn tour (and free) is really interesting, because without it, you miss important elements that help you to understand the lives of these farmers, breeders and cultivators. http://www.troglodyte.fr/
I thought I had found a nice bed and breakfast in my wanderings on the various websites of the area but nothing had prepared me for what we discovered: a beautiful room and a gigantic troglodyte bathroom! Le logis des roches d’antan is an exceptional place renovated by enthusiasts who are happy to welcome their guests in their area. https://lelogisdesrochesdantan.wordpress.com/
Our room was named the « Tuffeau », the freestone of the area in which they used to built the houses and castles. The breakfast is very abundant and made with excellent products. Sophie and Gilles are adorable, a real sense of hospitality and friendliness!
The next day, we continued our cave dwelling visit by discovering the castle of Breze.
This castle contains a secret in its basement: an entirely troglodyte part carved in the tuffeau stone which constituted the dependences of the castle. This part under the castle looks like an underground labyrinth and the lighting reinforces this idea of a secret place hidden from the outside world.
The part in the moat is more like a village with stalls of craftsmen like the baker or places for the wine trade. The wine was an important element in this castle which contains cellars with vats and a press. There is also a place where silkworms were raised.
Two other rather magical places: the Okapi habitat, very rare in a zoo, where you can also see many exotic birds and the habitat of the big cats (tigers and panthers).
Do not miss the feeding the giraffes at the end of the day because you can give them some leaves! A very special moment.