Alright, so I’m a little behind considering this excursion was last Friday and we just had another one yesterday but bear with me. Cool, so now that that’s out of the way…L’Anjou Troglodytique time! I’m sure everyone’s wondering what is that? I was too at first. It’s actually pretty cool. Anjou has the highest concentration of troglodytes in France. While many of these cave dwellings have been abandoned, there are some that are still in use today. Dug into the ground or into the sides of slopes and hills, the majority of these houses are underground. Some are only visible by the chimney sticking out of the ground or, if it’s one still in use today, a TV antenna might be visible.
This is my attempt at describing how the troglodytiques are set up. At the site in Anjou, each room or building has its own number from 1-20.The number tells you what number you’re at. The buildings all face each other and are in a little circle with a small clearing or courtyard in the middle. There’d be about 4 or 5 buildings per circle with tunnels connecting the circles. Anyone looking out across the land would just see little chimnies sticking out of the ground and big holes in the ground where the clearings would be.
We had a tour guide for the first few rooms and then were let loose to explore the rest on our own. Our guide was pretty cool. And language-wise he was amazing. Seriously. Towards the beginning, in the introduction, he asked us what countries we were from. They split us into groups for this, as there were only about 20 of us gathered around him. United States, China, Korea, Germany, Mexico. From then on, as he explained to us the history of the area and the purpose of the first few rooms, whenever he got to a word we didn’t understand, he’d translate it into English, Spanish, and German. On top of the French he was already speaking. And I’m pretty sure it wasn’t just the words he knew because he spoke a few sentences in each language so I feel like he was fluent in all three plus French. I don’t know about anyone else but I was impressed. He also had on socks with sandals which I wanted to take a picture of to show that even the French don’t always dress perfectly but didn’t get the chance.
The rooms were pretty impressive considering that they’d been carved out. A lot of the rooms were empty or mostly empty but there were some that still had beds in the corner or pictures on the wall or tables and benches for meals. Some rooms were a little creepy-feeling but those were mainly ones that were little rooms or tunnels off the main one and weren’t lit up. I’d say by far the creepiest little part was in one of the last rooms of the tour. It’s a tunnel that leads to what used to be the chapel and it’s a little creepy looking but gets better once you’re on the other side of it. The chapel was this big empty room with a high, arched ceiling. Off to the left is a little alcove that is big enough for a few people if no one stands up. I was with two of my friends, Carina and Antony, when we found it and in a split second decided to try and scare the next person to walk by by hiding in the alcove. It worked and was pretty funny. The three of us hid in the alcove as we heard voices getting closer. It took a few minutes for them to get to the big room as there’s another side room in the tunnel that they looked at first. Carina and Antony wanted to jump out and try to scare the people that way but I told them that the best way to do it is just stand there, slightly in the opening so that they can see that something’s there but not so much that they can see what it is and just stand there. Don’t move, don’t jump out, nothing. I’ve learned this from years of accidentally scaring my mother. I’d be on my ipod or phone or reading a book and stop for a minute in the doorway or in the room and Mom wouldn’t realize it immediately but then jump as soon as she saw me. Unintential but pretty funny. Sorry Mom. But just like with Mom, it worked. Luckily, we ended up knowing the two girls we scared which made it better–Olga and Erin were two other CIDEF kids. They weren’t mad after they got over their fright. : )
From here, we visited a winery and vineyard called Langlois-Chateau. That was really interesting. This is the first thing we see once we get off the bus:
School of wine? Uh…yes please. Ha, just kidding but we all did find it funny. A guide explained to us how wine is made and what the difference because white, rose, and red wine is before leading us into a building to show us the big metal vats where the wine is made. From there, we trooped downstairs and underground into the cellar where we saw bottles upon bottles of wine just chilling in racks or packaged metal crates. There was one bottle that she held up and showed us as she talked (I couldn’t hear what she was saying) but the bottle was definitely different. The liquid was bright red.
After the tour of the cellar, we participated in a wine-tasting. We tried three– a white, a rose, and a red in that order. I was a little surprised to find that I liked the white the best. I didn’t even finish the rose. One sip and gave the rest away. So far I haven’t even remotely liked any of the roses I’ve tried (there was another one at dinner that night). After the tasting, we were given a chance to puruse the store if we so chose. A number of us bought a bottle (some bought two) of wine. Myself included. I bought my first bottle of wine! How sophisticated am I? Haha. I bought the white. It’s a dry white. The official label says “demi-sec Cremant de la Loire.” Actually, I think that’s the one most people got. It was pretty good. After everyone was done loading up on wine who wanted it, we piled back in the bus and drove to dinner.
Where was dinner you may ask? In a cave. Yep, you read right. In a cave. We drove to another troglodytique area where there’s this restaurant (don’t know the name). It was amazing but super long. I mean, who needs a 3 hour dinner?? But the food was amazing. And so many courses. There was a salade which consisted of bread with melted cheese and ham, a little salad with oil and vinegar, a stuffed mushroom, and some regular mushrooms that were sauteed and coated in butter. That was the first course. Then came bowls of beans and chopped up mushrooms (mushrooms and the bread are kind of the thing in that area. Up the road from the restaurant is a museum called Musee de Champignons aka Mushroom Museum) that you could eat separate or put into the bread, called fouées I believe. They’re little buns sort of that are baked and rise so they come of out the oven looking more like an inflated circle about the size of a giant cookie. Sooo good. What you’re supposed to do is tear a piece off so that you can put beans, mushrooms, butter, pate, whatever you want in the center then eat it like a hamburger. Can I repeat sooo good? Best bread ever maybe, it’s that good. They keep coming around with a basket of the bread and then after all this there’s still cheese (bread with melted cheese on top. Holy crap.), dessert (a piece of hot apple tart) and finally, coffee. Not to mention the water and two bottles of wine that were on the table. So yeah. Lotta food but so worth it.
And so we ended the night on a good note. Definitely would recommend the restaurant to anyone in the area. Amazing food. Seriously. Price-wise I couldn’t tell you what it is because I was with a group so it was taken care of for us but I think it’s just a flat fee and the meal is fixed for everyone except for maybe drinks. At least that’s what it seemed like to me because a group was seated near us as we were getting served dessert and their first course was the same as ours. But anyway.
I think ya’ll have probably noticed by now that this post has a lot more pictures than usual. Looks like the problem fixed itself. Now let’s just see if it holds.