May 24, 2010

Troglodyte Village, Rochemenier - May 22

Troglodytes are cave dwellers, and there are dozens of these dwellings to visit throughout the region.  Some lived in natural caves whereas others dug immense holes in the plains, then carved out the caves from those retaining walls.  We visited Rochemenier which is a village situated on a plain with no natural caves.
The farmers first dug out the courtyard, a kind of large open-air quarry, and then around it the "underground buildings" for sheltering the inhabitants, the farm animals, the agricultural implements, and the work area. 
The rock of these plains is called "Falun".  It is a kind of limy sandstone which was transported and spread on the acid fields situated a few kilometers away in order to lime the ground, thus neutralizing its acidity.  The digging of a farm produced about 4000 cubic metres of Falun, transported in carts which contained 1 to 1.5 cubic metres.  The digging could take a long time, but in times past, available workers were numerous and the cost of labour was low.
Welcome to our home!
So glad you could make it.
Our wedding photo.
Our troglodyte home.
What will I make for supper?  The pans are big enough to feed quite a large family.

Chicken perhaps?  How about a big omelet.
Laundry is a full day affair.
My work is never done...  Actually, the mule would walk in circles, grinding nuts between the wheels to make oil.

Feeding the goats.
The bedroom is part of the living room, close to the hearth where it's warm.
Once the babies arrived, they would learn how to walk using one of these walkers.  One slides back and forth whereas the other goes round and round.
Men work pretty hard too.

But always there is someone to share the load.
This is very interesting.  It's called a "vêleuse" and is used to assist a cow give birth to her calf. 
 These are our fancy "going to town" wheels.
These types of animals would have been found on the farms dating back to the end of the 17th century or beginning of the 18th century.

Before going on to the next troglodyte site, we stopped for lunch and noticed that there was a wedding happening.  The "new" church, above ground, was partially built over the underground church.

Beautiful people, all heading to the celebrations.

 These flowers were right next to our outside table as we indulged in wonderful "tartines" (open-faced sandwiches), wine, beer, chocolate fondant and a crêpe with strawberry jam inside, (just like Mom used to serve) with some Chantilly cream.

Our next stop was in Perrières.  This site is more of a quarry, but it's amazing how they extracted so much with such primitive tools.  Here they used pulleys that would draw the falun out, much like water out of a well.  It gives it a cathedral feel.
The quarrymen eventually lived in the caves and today these troglodyte dwellings are available for rent.

~ AM

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