What makes Loire architecture so magical is the iconic stone from these parts. The quarrying of tufa limestone to build our châteaux and churches, our farmhouses and townhouses, is why our beautiful region is full of underground stores and galleries. These former quarries have been turned to many uses, including as wine cellars and mushroom farms.


Tufa limestone was extracted from the Loire Valley’s slopes. The underground quarrying left behind troglodytic caves and long galleries that are now a fabulous feature of the region.
Once quarrying ceased, the underground galleries were often transformed into mushroom farms. Their cool, moist atmosphere creates an ideal environment for cultivating fungi.


Many former tufa quarries have also been turned into wine cellars where wine can be stored and aged.
At La Cave de la Dive Bouteille in Bourgueil you can discover one such wine cellar created out of a former tufa quarry dug into the slope.
Many local winemakers can show you their underground cellars, allowing you to enjoy the extraordinary atmosphere in these underground galleries.

A typical underground cave created by tufa quarrying

The underground Cave de La Dive Bouteille and its magnificent light well



It’s thanks to the creamy colour of the local tufa limestone that the Loire Valley’s châteaux shine so brightly in the sun, standing out so sharply in the landscape. Tufa formed the basis for the majority of buildings in the region, hence why it has become so emblematic of the Loire Valley.
The word tufa derives from the Latin ‘tofus’, meaning a spongy stone. Tufa was already used in Gallo-Roman times. A soft, porous stone, it was much appreciated by stone masons, as it was so easy to work with.

Tufa is the characteristic stone used to build the Loire’s châteaux… for example, at Gizeux

at Marcilly-sur-Maulne

or at Langeais

If you get the feeling someone is watching you as you wander around the area, look up and you may well find a gargoyle staring down at you!

Share on