February 04, 2009

Cave aux sculptures/Cave with sculptures

picture by Apolline Lepetit,
courtesy of Sophie Lepetit, from her weblog

Located along the Loire river in France, the Saumur region has the highest concentration of troglodytes, underground dwellings dugged out and lived in by man. 

The area has grottos too. 

Cave with sculptures

A very special grotto is the Cave aux Sculptures near the village of Dénezé-sous-Doué. It is famous because of the 234 characters sculpted into the cave's walls of soft stone.

That this cave existed seems to have been forgotten for a long time, until in 1956 it was rediscovered and became a regional tourist attraction.

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.

picture courtesy of Jerôme and Laurent Triolet
 from their website Monde Souterrain

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

An association of friends of the site, Actions Caverne, was formed, which 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 with plans, pictures, accounts of the history of the cave and the hypotheses around the sculptures, and so on.

Documentation/more pictures
* On her weblog a report by Jessica Strauss about a visit she paid to the grotto in spring 2017
* Touristic website of the Saumur region with practical information
* Pictures (January 2013) by Apolline Lepetit on Sophie Lepetit's weblog 
* A touristic website, in English, has a story about the troglodytes in the area and also information on the cave aux sculptures and other caves in the region.

.* Video by Champigny2014 (8'28". YouTube, August 2014)

first published February 2009, last revised April 2020

Cave aux sculptures
Rue de la Caverne
49700 Dénezé-sous-Doué, dept Maine-et-Loire, region Pays de la Loire, France
can be visited in the summer months,
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.