By Maggie LaCoste
Another highlight of my bicycling adventures on the Loire was my encounter with Louis-Marie Chardon, owner of the troglodyte farm located about 5km outside of Azay le Rideau. There is a small posted sign for the turnoff, one that you would probably never see if you were traveling by car. It looked curious to us, so we decided to go. It was the best decision of the day, a perfect bicycling adventure!
Louis-Marie Chardon was only 10 years old when his father purchased some property for the family orchards. As any 10 year old would do, Louis-Marie started exploring his father’s new property, and he began to discover that the area was filled with troglodyte dwellings. Fast forward 20 years Louis-Marie inherits the land and begins a tedious restoration of the caves. During this process he made perhaps the biggest discovery of all, the last known underground refuge in the Loire Region.
Louis-Marie’s restoration of the troglodyte villages is a tribute to his love of French history. Great care has been taken to make the dwellings authentic, giving visitors a wonderful vision of what life was like as a troglodyte peasant in the Middle Ages.
The Valley of the Troglodytes was filled with kids and rightfully so, it is a great place to expose them to an important part of French history, as well as an opportunity to meet the man who brought the area alive: Louis-Marie Chardin. Visit guides are available in English. If you go, don’t forget to introduce yourself to Louis-Marie, as he will probably be the first person that you meet there! By the way, we also had one of the best cups of coffee in France at the troglodyte cafe!