February 04, 2009

Cave aux sculptures/Cave with sculptures

picture by bishybarnabee, on Flickr

The Saumur region situated along the Loire river in France, has the highest concentration of troglodytes, underground dwellings dugged out and lived in by man. The area has grotto's too. 

Cave with sculptures

A very special grotto is the Cave aux Sculptures near the village of Denezé sur Doué. It is famous because of the 234 representations of persons, sculpted into the walls of soft stone.

The existence of this cave seems to have been forgotten for a long time, untill in 1956 it was rediscovered. Nowadays, the cave is a touristic attraction in the region.

The sculptures probably date from the 16th century, and there is no agreement about who made them. Theories range from fugitives of the religious wars to adherents of religious sects. Anyhow, from an artistic point of view the makers can considered to be outsiders.

picture with friendly permission of Jerôme and Laurent Triolet
from dec 2009 on they have a new website: Monde Souterrain

In 1969 the Cave became a Monument Historique and since 1973 it is owned by the local community.

An asssociation of friends of the site, Actions Caverne, has been formed, that is active in promoting the protection of the site and in stimulating research on the origins and the meaning of the sculptures. This association has a website (in french), with plans, pictures, accounts of the history of the cave and the hypotheses around the sculptures, and so on.

Documentation/more pictures
* Pictures by Apolline on Sophie Lepetit's weblog 12-01-2013
* Report (in english, febr 2012) on her weblog France for Freebooters  by Vivienne Mackie of a visit to the cave  
*A touristic website, in english, has a story about the troglodytes in the area, giving information on the cave aux sculptures and other caves in the region..

first published febr 2009, revised march, nov 2012, jan 2013

Cave aux sculptures
1 rue Principal
49700 Denezé sur Doué, Pays de la Loire, FR
can be visited in the summermonths,
check tourist office website
1/4 - 31/10, not on mondays

1 comment:

  1. Hi Henk, the notion of cave dwellings has always intrigued me, I suppose you must be familiar with the Cappadocia region in Turkey? Well, if you head down that way sometime, there is even a troglodyte hotel, info at :


    Well, Turkey isn't quite in Europe yet... maybe someday.

    Closer to home, I just discovered the other day that in the town of Creil, Picardie, France, not far from where I live, there were troglodyte dwellings known as the "Tufs de Creil". Apparently they have been sealed off, but I was going to go try to find them one of these days and see if there is anything visible still.