With their astonishing underground caves, troglodyte sites are typical features of the Loire Valley. Sitting under plains or in the hillside, they fascinate children in particular, revealing prehistoric sea beds, miniature sculptures and ancient villages. It’s difficult to imagine that 10 million years ago the vast tunnels of the Les Perrières troglodyte site in Doué-la-Fontaine were in fact part of a vast sea populated by jellyfish, sharks and whales. And yet, the ‘falun’ stone, a sandy type of rock deposited by the sea, is evidence of this. With the Mystère des Faluns exhibition, the local history is told in a moving way using light shows and projections. The Château de Montsoreau and Fontevraud Abbey, huge structures made of tuffeau stone, now have their own tuffeau-stone miniature models at Pierre et Lumière in Saint-Hilaire-Saint-Florent. This underground site is home to around 20 iconic monuments from the Loire Valley (churches, chateaux and villages) sculpted in miniature in the famous white stone.
The Goupillières troglodyte valley has three farms dug into the tuffeau stone. Farmers lived here in the Middle Ages, raising livestock and baking bread (as shown by the ovens), as well as taking refuge in underground passageways. Bring the kids to come and discover the villagers’ daily lives and visit the farm animals. You can visit another large troglodyte village on the Rochemenier plain – but a real must-see is the troglodyte village of Trôo, built over three levels and enthralling visitors with its quaint little streets and superb Saint-Martin collegiate church. You can also visit the petrifying cave and admire how the water has transformed things over 300 years. The stalactites never fail to fascinate little ones!