Grottes de Savonnières

Les Grottes Pétrifiantes


Useful Information

Location: 1km from Villandry. M10 exit 24, follow RD7 towards Villandry. 15km west of Tours.
Open: 06-FEB to MAR daily 9:30-12, 14-18.
APR to SEP daily 9-18:30.
OCT daily 9:30-12, 14-18.
NOV to 15-DEC Mon-Wed, Fri-Sun 9:30-12, 14-18.
[2007]
Fee: Adults EUR 5.60, Children (6-12) EUR 4.10, Children (13-15) EUR 4.60.
Groups (20+): Adults EUR 5, Children (6-12) EUR 3.90, Children (13-15) EUR 3.40.
[2007]
Classification:  Tufa cave
Light: electric.
Dimension: T=14°C.
Guided tours: D=60min. (Français - French English)
Photography:  
Accessibility:  
Bibliography:  
Address: Grottes de Savonnières, 61 Route des Grottes Pétrifiantes, F-38360 Savonnières. Tel: +33-247-500009, Fax: +33-247-500103. E-mail: contact
Last update:$Date: 2013/04/25 22:59:54 $

History

 
1203oldest inscription in the cave.
1547cave discovered by Bernard Palissy.
1947second cave re-discovered by the caver M. Gilles.
1966opened to the public.

Description

The Grottes de Savonnières are located one kilometre from Chateau Villandry, one of the famous Rennaissance castles of the Loire and a great tourist attraction. This are primary caves, tufa caves, which were formed when the limestone was deposited by limestone rich water. And the water is still very rich in limestone, so it is used to create strange artworks by placing objects in the water, which are soon encrusted by a white layer of calcite crystals. Typically rubber forms are used and the form iss filled by calcite until finally flat reliefs are removed from the form. Other objects are any kind of pottery, especially pots, vases and sculptured animals. They are covered by white limestone and look much better than their simple ceramic heart. The results of the "petrifying" process are sold at the souvenir shop. This is the reason why this cave is also called Les Grottes Pétrifiantes (The Petrifying Caves).

The French name is plutal, grottes, and that is true as there are two different caves. One has been known at least since Gallo-Roman times, as it contains two graves from this era, The first "written account" is from 1203, an inscription on the cave wall, a very early graffitti. However, the existance was forgotten, and so the official discovery date is 1547 when a second cave nearby was discovered by Bernard Palissy. The first cave was then re-discovered by the caver M. Gilles in 1947.

This is ono of the most northern show caves of France. Further to the north are low plains which are not karstified. The limestone around the Loire is karstified, but there are no big caves and no other show caves. So this cave is definitely extraordinary from the geologic view, but it is not as impressive as the huge karst caves of the south. The owners try to make the cave more interesting for visitors by adding many strange details. While the incrusting of objects with limestone is rather interesting, the decoration of the cave with dinosaurs is kitschy. The cave bear at the end is nice for children, but has nothing to do with Ursus spelaeus. And the glass of wine at the end of the tour is fine for a cellar visit - lots are offered in the area - but strange at a natural cave.


See also


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