Friday 5 June 2015

Who's on holiday (5)

This is a day for moving on to our next site. Rules mean we have to leave before lunch, but can't arrive at the next site until after lunch. French lunch hours are fairly long so we tend to visit somewhere in the morning them travel midday. This mornings trip was a chance discovery while reading the guidebook (Dorling-Kindersley Guide to Loire Valley) and let to a visit that interested all the party, something difficult to do when there are eight of you.

In this particular region there are a number of Troglodyte sites. Areas where people lived and worked in caves hollowed out from the soft stone. In some cases the houses are still occupied.

In this instance we went to a small village called Rochemenier, which looked nothing special from the roadside, but after dismounting and walking a short distance we came to the entrance to an amazing world.

The village consists of some 250 rooms excavated from the rock and making up around 40 farms. The families excavated a large hole to act as a courtyard from the sandstone and then dug rooms from the sides. As the family expanded more rooms were added. In the village we explored the oldest habitation was from the 13th century and it was still in use until the early 20th century. Everything was done in this 'quarry' apart from cultivation, which occurred on the roof. Livestock was brought down into the caves at night because of wolves, thieves, etc.

Later we travelled to our next destination, Le Moulin Fort, for a one night stop. Ostensibly this was to visit the fabulous Chateau of Cenonceau (of which, more tomorrow), but I'm told there are three good wine co-operatives in the area. Just after we'd arrived and set up, this vehicle arrived.

Carrying a German touring group of about 25 people, the bus is about 30 years old and comes from America. The travellers sit in the front half while the back half is sleeping cubicles across the width of the bus (each window visible is one cubicle), while the trailer at the back carries all the gear, including tables and chairs plus a load of bicycles. The chap in the red shirt is actually getting dinner ready and will be cooking it on the 'kitchen' where the flap is open.  

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