We’re just back from a few days at Saumur on the Loire. One of the fascinating places we visited was the Chateau de Brézé: advertised as a chateau beneath a chateau, the comparatively modern building is built on a rock that has been lived in since the 11th century. Much of the Loire valley is tofu – a chalk-like rock. This has been dug out to provide building materials for hundreds of years, leaving vast underground caves. At Brézé, these man-made caves have been used for a range of activities: as living quarters originally, then stables and for defence. More recently, a wine press and a bakery have been excavated. The caves form excellent wine cellars, of course, a fact realised by the valley inhabitants some time ago.
The Chateau is surrounded by a moat which is 50 meters deep and it’s from this moat that the various caves are accessible.
The access to the Chateau is over a bridge that is quite scary...
... but the footbridge (no longer in use) is even more frightening
The chateau is surrounded by vines and we came away with a case of their Saumur Brut – made by the ‘traditional method’ (they are not allowed to call it the Champagne method any more – but it is the same.)
There is more information on the Chateau’s web site http://www.chateaudebreze.com/