One of the remarkable characteristics of the Saumur region is its tuffeau caves, carved into the chalk hillsides, in which wines have historically been aged and in which some residents of the area have made their homes. Bouvet Ladubay’s own cellars lie in such a cave, excavated 1,000 years ago by the Saint Florent monks, who quarried the chalk stone to build their abbey, La Belle d’Anjou, consecrated in 1040 and at its greatest influence in the 13th century. It was said that the monks of the abbey buried an immense treasure in the caves during the French Revolution, but the treasure to be found there today is the result of a childhood dream that Patrice Monmousseau realized in 2002: the Underground Cathedral.
To create this work, sculptor Philippe Cormand rendered 35 architectural fragments from castles, churches and cathedrals sculpted by stonemasons over the centuries, adding to the natural beauty of the 5-mile-long cellars. Light and sound now complement this tribute to 10 centuries of builders in the Loire Valley. The Underground Cathedral was made a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2002; visitors are welcome to view the site.