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From Troglodyte Caves to Chateaux: Montsoreau Adventures
Montsoreau is in the heart of the Loire Valley, a region celebrated for its fertile lands, historic chateaux, and vineyards. The Loire River, the longest in France, flows through this picturesque landscape, offering breathtaking views of one of France’s most iconic waterways. Montsoreau is another village we found in our book, “The Most Beautiful Villages of France”.
We savoured the unhurried pace of this enchanting village, beginning our day with a leisurely coffee at a charming cafe tucked amid the picturesque cobblestone lanes. The aroma of freshly brewed coffee and the scent of the beautiful flowers created an enjoyable sensory experience. As we sat, sipping our drinks, the gentle hum of conversation and the distant murmur of the Loire River provided the perfect soundtrack to our leisurely morning in Montsoreau.
Next was a stroll along the riverbank, enjoying the picturesque views and peaceful atmosphere. There would be boat tours along the Loire River, canoeing, kayaking and paddleboarding in the busier summer months.
A Renaissance-style castle, Chateau de Montsoreau, is located right on the banks of the river and houses a contemporary art museum.
We went to the Street-Art-Parc, but unfortunately, it was closed. Checking afterwards on their website, they close on 17th September. Despite our slight disappointment, we took a moment to appreciate the serene surroundings. The lush greenery and the gentle rustling of leaves provided a soothing backdrop. We vowed that this was another reason to return, knowing that the artistry in the Park would be another facet of this enchanting place waiting to be explored. We read that there were 60 monumental works in a 5-hectare park, facing the confluence of the Loire and the Vienne with a unique view from the terrace of the Château de Candes.
With that, we continued our stroll, eager to uncover more of the hidden treasures Montsoreau had to offer.
Loire Valley, including Montsoreau, is celebrated for its wine production. The region is known for producing diverse wines, including the famed Saumur-Champigny reds and Cremant de Loire sparkling wines.
If Ray hadn’t been driving that day, we could have ventured into one of the enchanting wine cellars. Among them, one stood out as particularly inviting as we passed by, with lanterns casting a warm glow on the ancient stone walls and the aroma of ageing oak barrels creating an ideal atmosphere for a wine-filled escapade. We also spotted a nearby campsite, so we plan to stay there next time, allowing us to indulge in wine tasting and exploration fully.
Troglodyte caves at Turquant
Just a short drive out of town, near one of the Motorhome Aires, are the Troglodyte caves at Turquant. The caves are another integral part of Montsoreau’s history.
These underground dwellings, carved into the soft tufa limestone cliffs, reflect a unique architectural tradition. Initially used as homes by people in the past, they were later converted into wine cellars due to their constant temperature and humidity levels, making them ideal for ageing wine. Some troglodyte caves were repurposed as mushroom farms, taking advantage of the controlled environment.
These caves were created by quarrying the soft tufa limestone. The interiors were then often enlarged to create more space. Some caves feature carved arches and columns, showcasing impressive craftsmanship.
You can find troglodyte caves scattered throughout the Loire Valley. They are particularly prevalent in areas with high concentrations of limestone, like the cliffs along the Loire River.
Many of these caves are open to the public and offer guided tours. Knowledgeable guides provide insights into these unique spaces’ history, architecture, and various uses.
Les Caves Painctes in Turquants has been converted into art galleries, workshops, craft boutiques, and a restaurant. We so enjoyed visiting them and browsing around the craft boutiques.
Montsoreau, with its blend of history, natural beauty, and cultural richness, stands as a testament to the allure of the Loire Valley. From the majestic chateau to the intricate troglodyte caves, every corner reveals a piece of its fascinating past. As we left this enchanting village, we promise to return to its embrace in the future.