|This map shows the troglodyte underground caves|
|Looking from ground level over the first courtyard which was very spacious|
|houses from the first courtyard|
|bread oven in the house above|
|View out the window of the blue house. Doesn't feel like a cave at all.|
Certainly, as in Rochemenier, there was farming above ground, and vineyards. The caves are quite extensive underneath, but what was new for us is that we started the tour above ground and could see the chimneys, light wells, and holes dug for dumping the grapes down into the press. We could see multiple ways of entering from above ground as well as underground corridors that connected rooms and houses to one another.
Above ground there were fenced areas for farm animals, including a male and female peacock couple with young chicks.
|You must look carefully to see the male peacock on the lower roof|
|Have you ever seen a peacock chick? Here's one of the four.|
|Mother peacock and her chicks|
The houses of this hamlet are clustered around two open-to-the-sky grassy courtyards where chickens continue to wander freely.
|house from the second courtyard|
|a very proud rooster in the courtyard|
|This chicken was cackling in a niche inside one of the houses. The glass next to her is an electric lamp (not so old). She had laid an egg in the niche, but it had rolled out onto the floor and broke.|
|these sheep were grazing above ground in an enclosed pen|
|farm caves - storage, animal stables, etc|
|flour sifter on left, bread oven in back and some other piece likely used in making bread|
|you can see the hay manger to the left and animal pen to the right|
|a jumble of farm equipment yet to be sorted out|
|Judy and Dave in the farm "corridor"|
The houses were relatively large caves and had chimneys for cooking.
|This room is also not well-organized, but you can see the fireplace in the back and the baby walker pole in the middle|
|This house was quite modern with a cement floor|
|Here's the chicken in the niche with the electric light in the most modern house|
Virginie spoke excellent English and seemed to enjoy our questions about their interest in this treasure of time. The signs were old, faded and only in French which is how the property had come to them. Old farm tools and furniture were scattered somewhat randomly and one would wish for better explanation of their use. She explained that the previous owner had become "tired" in his old age and wasn't able to keep up with the maintenance of such a large undertaking, although he continued to add pieces to the collections. There will be an English brochure we were told once they have been able to sort out and place all the pieces lying about. Until everything has a home, it would be a never-ending task to update a brochure as rooms were updated.
We asked about water entering through the light tubes and chimneys and she explained that the limestone of the caves was so porous that the rain just soaked right in and the caves were never damp.
|a light tube|
We also found a unique way of storing wine - vertically. Apparently burying the wine in the sand kept the cork from drying out. Never saw that before.
|Wine bottle storage|
Home for lunch outside and preparations for dinner: making ratatouille and bread pudding. But with the expert help of sous-chefs Judy and Dave, we were ready when Dan and Paulette arrived. Time to celebrate with friends we haven't seen since we lived in New York. Somehow, the time doesn't matter and we are as comfortable together as though we saw each other yesterday.
Aperos stretch into dinner and late into the evening. Renewing friendships makes you feel warm all over and talking over a lovely French meal in our lovely French garden makes you want to stay up all night. But alas, age prevents me from lasting that long.