Turquant – Troglodytes in the Loire Valley
Iggy the Hymer motorhome sits contentedly at the tiny free Aire in the village of Turquant. (N47.223801, W0.029189)
Marley and I have already walked the early morning pathways while Jay catches an extra snooze or three.
Soon it will be time to pack up and leave. Trundle our way round today’s waiting corners. Hopefully with a bridge or two along the way. Old. Stone. I have a bit of a fondness for bridges of the old, stone, variety.
But first I must cast my mind back a few hours to the road we have just travelled. The one that led us from yesterday in Alençon, to here, now. This quiet, peaceful morning in Turquant.
The weekend was upon us as we left Alençon. and wound our steady way south, south and more south. And very soon we started to come across roundabouts full of friendly, waving, “Gilets Jaunes” We waved back and shouted “Bon chance!” to the friendly faces.
Some waved fliers at cars. Some huddled round small fires. Some even barbecued food and hand passed it round to carefully monitored children.
We passed a large group near La Fleche – where we stopped on our very first trip in Iggy – and I felt sudden tears tingle at the back of my eyes and throat. Stirred by the feeling of warmth and comradeship that seemed to exude from the groups. And the many happy memories I owe to their people and their country.
Les Gilet Jaunes hand out smiles and flyers on the roundabout near La Fleche.
Many roundabouts were empty, baring the scorched marks of old fires instead of the usual French statement about the region, it’s specialities, what fun the town or village had to offer to the visitor.
In some places the roundabout displays were beautifully intact and I wondered if it was arranged with the communes which roundabouts had held the bonfires? Or were some just destroyed?
Some French giants had dropped their Boules set on this roundabout…
We chatted about the Gilets Jaunes as we drove, until we found ourselves passing through the stunning town of Saumur in the Loire Valley.
I’d come close to choosing an Aire here for tonight, plumping instead for a quiet country stop at the tiny, Troglodyte village of Turquant.
Turquant was only a few minutes further along the river valley, and having caught a glimpse of what we were missing at Saumur I was hoping it was going to be a good stop!
I needn’t have worried! As we approached the village we could see a stunning old windmill high on the hillside. Below the signs of the Troglodyte dwellings dotted the cliff face. Chimneys; windows; doors – carved from the earth herself.
“Saumur next time.” I thought to myself as Jay guided Iggy gently to a stop at the beautifully placed free Aire. And as soon as we’d parked up two humans and a dog bounded out of Iggy and set off to explore our surroundings.
This was meant to be a quiet stop to walk Marley. Catch up on some photo editing. Maybe have ourselves a little box set session with a bottle of red.
Instead I quickly found myself entranced by the fascinating walking route set out through, and beyond, the village.
Much of the walk led past the Troglodyte houses. Call me nostalgic, but there’s just something about a cave dwelling that fascinates and calls to me. A primeval part of our racial memory perhaps? Or just good, old-fashioned fun!
We’d stayed in a cave house before in Andalucia . ( In fact that’s where we decided to buy ourselves a motorhome and get started on this Nomadic life of ours.) But these French Troglodyte houses were slightly different. They started life hundrerds of years ago as caves made by the quarrying of the Tuffeau stone cliffs to make other buildings. And then the people who couldn’t afford to buy the quarried stone, made their homes inside the cliffs themselves.
Gorgeous old van at the Pomme de Tappe Museum.
Carrying along the path we came to the Pomme de Tappe shop and museum. Marley couldn’t go into the museum sadly, and we didn’t feel like leaving her, but it looked like it would have been an interesting visit. Although…we weren’t too sure dried, flattened apples were quite worth 6Euros each for the visit.
The price of 9 euro for a jar of six seemed a bit extreme too, so we beat a quiet retreat and headed off up the path in search of the windmill we had seen from the road earlier.
I’ve got a bit of a thing for windmills and this one was an absolute cracker! Unfortunately the light was disappearing fast by that point and we had to scarper back down the steep, winding path before the way back became completely invisible in the gloom.
And that, as they say, was just about that.
We returned to Iggy to find a little pizza van sitting in the square. Saturday night treat time for the villagers. We’re both a bit mad for pizza since we’ve been travelling in Iggy as we have no oven and can’t make our own. So, suffice to be said, it wasn’t long before Team Travel Malarkey was cosied up in Iggy’s comfy dinette with an ultra thin French Pizza and chilli pizza sauce. Mmmmmm…
A glass of red, a bottle of beer, and three heads ready for sleep…